CLICK HERE for Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’s d’var Torah.
From Torah study leader Howard Brill:
This week’s parshah is one of the most difficult for me. In it are a list of blessings and a much longer list of curses. It is the part of a covenant, a contract, that spells out incentives and penalties for performance or non-performance. At work, I’m involved in writing contract terms and this is a regular part of the job. There’s even a new term for it — service level agreements or SLAs.
When my father died at a young age, some of members of my family felt that God had broken the contract. We ate kosher, we lit candles on Friday night. Bad things shouldn’t happen. When they did, it was harder to keep following the rules.
Well, bad things do happen. In the Talmud there is an aphorism that God refused to answer the only question put to him by Moses: why do bad things happen to good people?
Rabbi Sacks, in a dvar from a previous year, also points out that this week’s parshah is about being attentive to history. (I think this year’s dvar is too similar to others we’ve taken a look at.)
We’ll also look at text from an ancient treaty
written roughly at the same time of the Torah with a similar set of curses. Some of the curses also create interesting images, something to have at the ready the next time a parking space is taken from you.