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THE MYSTERY OF THE SUPERFLUOUS CURSE

September 7th, 2017

One of the most dramatic moments during the last few weeks of Moses’ life was the mass staged event on Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal. Half the nation was told to position themselves on one mountain, while the other half were told to stand on the other. The Levites then proclaimed a scripted set of curses one by one, and the nation responded collectively and unanimously to each of them with a resounding “Amen!”

Each “curse” was aimed at those who would transgress a particularly heinous sin, except, it seems, for the last one — “Cursed be he who does not uphold the words of this Torah, to fulfill them”. This “curse” seems far more general, and appears to encapsulate every transgression in the Torah. This strange anomaly does not go unnoticed by the Talmud, and also by later commentaries.

Rabbi Dunner takes us on a journey through various classical and modern sources, to demonstrate how this final “curse” proclamation was of profound significance, not just in the context of the Torah narrative, but in a way that resonates to this very day.

Photo: Replica of Michelangelo’s Moses. Copyright: jgaunion / 123RF Stock Photo

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