Parshas Netzavim – Blessings and Curses

By Shalom Olensky


This week in the Torah:

“When all these, the blessings and the curses, shall happen to you, you shall have a change of heart amidst all the nations to which He cast you away… you will return to G‑d your L-rd… with all your heart and all your soul.” (Deuteronomy 30:1-2.)


This verse is referring to an awakening of remorse and repentance in the Jews, brought about by events that occur to them in exile – “The blessings and the curses.” What role do the blessings play in arousing a feeling of remorse and repentance?

[Editor’s note:

Although man often feels gratitude for G-d’s blessings, which brings him to better his ways, a) this is not so in every case, and b) the above verse seemingly speaks of a contrite feeling of remorse which is produced by a feeling of constraint, lending to the assumption that this repentance is resulting from heartbreak, etc. (may G-d protect us). Hence the question, specific to this verse – why mention blessings as a catalyst to contrition?]


These afflictions cause a deep sense of remorse, resulting from the pain inflicted. The most deeply felt pain is when the afflictions were preceded by blessings. Hence, the blessings are mentioned before the afflictions, in a verse describing the catalysts for remorse.


Does this mean that only those who were blessed before they were pained can arrive at this deep feeling of remorse?


From this question itself, it is understood that, indeed, each and every Jew is promised blessings. (It is just that proper behavior is necessary for these blessings to endure.)


As we approach Rosh Hashanah – the Head of the Year, which is also a Day of Judgment, we must realize that G‑d’s very first adjudication when judging us is to give each and every Jew blessings. Surely, then, we will all be blessed with a good and sweet year.

(Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. 14, Nitzavim)

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