Deuteronomy 26:1 – 29:8
When you come to the land that HaShem is giving you as a heritage, occupying and settling it, you shall take the first of every fruit of the ground produced by the land that HaShem is giving you. You must place it in a basket, and go to the site that G-d will choose as the place associated with His name.
There you shall go to the priest officiating at the time, and say to him, “Today I am affirming to HaShem that I have come to the land that HaShem swore to our fathers to give us.”
The priest shall then take the basket from your hand and place it before the altar of HaShem.
You shall then make the following declaration before HaShem: “My ancestor was a homeless Aramaean. He went to Egypt with a small number of men and lived there as an immigrant, but it was there that he became a great, powerful, and populous nation. The Egyptians were cruel to us, making us suffer and imposing harsh slavery on us. We cried out to HaShem, Lord of our ancestors, and HaShem heard our voice, seeing our suffering, our harsh labor, and our distress.
HaShem then brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and an outstretched arm with great visions and with signs and miracles.
He brought us to this area, giving us this land flowing with milk and honey. I am now bringing the first fruit of the land that G-d has given me.”
With that, you shall set the basket down before HaShem, and you shall then bow down before HaShem.
You, the Levite, and the proselyte in your midst shall thus rejoice in all the good that HaShem has granted you and your family.
Declaration for Removing Tithes
When you have finished taking all the tithes of your grain for the third year, which is the special tithe year, you must give them to the Levite, and to the foreigner, orphan and widow, so that they will eat their fill in your settlements. You must then make the following declaration before HaShem: “I have removed all the sacred portions from my house. I have given the appropriate ones to the Levite and to the orphan and widow, following all the commandments You prescribed to us. I have not violated your commandment, and have forgotten nothing. “I have not eaten the second tithe while in mourning. I have not separated any of it while unclean, and I have not used any for the dead. I have obeyed You, HaShem and have done all that You commanded me.
“Look down from Your holy habitation in heaven, and bless Your people Israel, and the land that You have given us, the land flowing with milk and honey that You swore to our fathers.”
Concluding the Commandments
Today HaShem is commanding you to obey all these rules and laws. You must carefully keep them with all your heart and with all your soul. Today you have declared allegiance to HaShem, making Him your G-d, and pledging to walk in His paths, keep His decrees, commandments and laws, and to obey His voice. HaShem has similarly declared allegiance to you today, making you His special nation as He promised you. If you keep all His commandments, He will make you the highest of all the nations He brought into existence, so that you will have praise, fame and glory. You will remain a nation consecrated to HaShem, as He promised.
The Written Stones
Moses and the elders of Israel gave the following instructions to the people: Keep the entire mandate that I am prescribing to you today. On the day that you cross the Jordan to the land that HaShem is giving you, you must erect large stones and plaster them with lime.
When you then cross over, you shall write on them all the words of this Torah. In this manner you shall come to the land that HaShem is giving you, the land flowing with milk and honey that HaShem, promised you. When you cross the Jordan, you shall set up the stones that I am now describing to you on Mount Ebal, and you shall plaster them with lime.
There you shall then build an altar to HaShem. It shall be a stone altar, and you shall not lift up any iron to it. The altar that you build shall thus be made of whole stones. It is on this altar that you shall sacrifice burnt offerings. You shall also sacrifice peace offerings and eat there, rejoicing before HaShem. On the stones, you shall write all the words of this Torah in a clear script.
Becoming a Nation
Moses and the Levitical priests spoke to all Israel, saying: Pay attention and listen, Israel. Today you have become a nation to HaShem. You must therefore obey HaShem and keep His commandments and decrees, as I am prescribing them to you today.
Blessings and Curses
On that day, Moses gave the people the following instructions: When you cross the Jordan, the ones who shall stand on Mount Gerizim for the people’s blessing shall be Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph and Benjamin. The ones who shall stand on Mount Ebal for the curse shall be Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan and Naphtali. The Levites shall then speak up and say the following to every individual Israelite in a loud voice:
“Cursed is the person who makes a sculptured or cast idol, which is repulsive to HaShem even if it is a piece of fine sculpture, and places it in a hidden place.” All the people shall respond and say, “Amen.”
“Cursed is he who shows disrespect for his father and mother.” All the people shall say, “Amen.
“Cursed is he who moves his neighbor’s boundary marker.” All the people shall say, “Amen.”
“Cursed is he who misdirects the blind on the way.” All the people shall say, “Amen.”
“Cursed is he who perverts justice for the foreigner, orphan and widow.” All the people shall say, “Amen.”
“Cursed is he who lies with his father’s wife, thus violating his father’s privacy.” All the people shall say, “Amen.”
“Cursed is he who lies with any animal.” All the people shall say, “Amen.”
“Cursed is he who lies with his sister, whether she is the daughter of his father or of his mother.” All the people shall say, “Amen.”
“Cursed is he who lies with his mother-in-law.” All the people shall say, “Amen.”
“Cursed is he who strikes down his neighbor in secret.” All the people shall say, “Amen.”
“Cursed is he who takes a bribe to put an innocent man to death.” All the people shall say, “Amen.”
“Cursed is he who does not uphold and keep this entire Torah.” All the people shall say, “Amen.”
The Blessing for Obedience
If you obey HaShem, carefully keeping all His commandments as I am prescribing them to you today, then HaShem will make you highest of all the nations on earth. As long as you listen to HaShem, all these blessings will come to bear on you. Blessed will you be in the city, and blessed in the field. Blessed will be the fruit of your womb, the fruit of your soil, and the fruit of your livestock, the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flock. Blessed will be your food basket and your kneading bowl.
Blessed will you be when you come and blessed when you go. If any enemies attack you, HaShem will make them flee from you in panic. They may march against you on one road, but they will flee from you in seven directions. HaShem will grant a blessing in your granaries and all your other endeavors. He will bless you in the land that He, HaShem, is giving you. If only you keep the commandments of HaShem and walk in His paths, HaShem will establish you as His holy nation, as He promised you. All the nations of the world will realize that HaShem’s name is associated with you, and they will be in awe of you. HaShem will grant you good surplus in the fruit of your womb, the fruit of your livestock, and the fruit of your land. You will thus flourish on the good land that God promised your ancestors to give you. HaShem will open His good treasury in heaven to give your land rain at precisely the right time, and to bless everything you do. You will lend many nations, but you will not have to borrow. God will make you a leader and never a follower. You will be on the top and never on the bottom. You must merely obey the commandments of HaShem, as I am prescribing them to you today, carefully keeping them. Do not stray to the right or left from all the words that I am commanding you today. Be especially careful not to follow other gods or serve them.
The Curse of Disobedience
If you do not obey HaShem and do not carefully keep all His commandments and decrees as I am prescribing them for you today, then all these curses will come to bear on you.
Cursed will you be in the city and cursed in the field.
Cursed will be your food basket and your kneading bowl.
Cursed will be the fruit of your womb, the fruit of your land, the calves of your herd and the lambs of your flock.
Cursed will you be when you come, and cursed when you go.
HaShem will send misfortune, confusion and frustration against you in all you undertake. It will destroy you and make you rapidly vanish because of your evil ways in forsaking my teachings.
HaShem will make disease attach itself to you, until it wipes you out from on the land which you are about to occupy.
HaShem will strike you with consumption, fever, delirium, paralysis, the sword, the black blight and the yellow blight, and these calamities will pursue you until they destroy you.
The skies above you will be like brass, and the earth below you like iron.
HaShem will turn your rain into powder and dust, and it will come down from the skies to destroy you.
HaShem will make you panic before your enemies. You will march out in one column, but flee from them in seven. You will become a terrifying example to all the world’s kingdoms.
Your corpses will be food for all the birds of the sky and beasts of the land, and no one will chase them away.
HaShem will strike you with the Egyptian boil, and with incurable tumors, running sores and itch. HaShem will strike you with insanity, blindness and mental confusion. You will grope about in broad daylight just like a blind man gropes in the darkness, and you will have no success in any of your ways. You will be constantly cheated and robbed, and no one will help you.
When you build a house, you will not live in it. When you plant a vineyard, you will not enjoy its fruit. Your ox will be slaughtered before your eyes, but you will not eat from it. Your donkey will be stolen right in front of you, but you will not be able to get it back. Your sheep will be given to your enemies, and no one will come to your aid.
Your sons and daughters will be given to a foreign nation. You will see it happening with your own eyes, and will long for them all day long, but you will be powerless.
A strange nation will consume the fruit of your land and all your toil. You will be constantly cheated and crushed. You will go insane from what you will have to witness. HaShem will then strike you with a malignant skin disease on your knees and thighs, and you will not be able to find a cure for it until it covers you from head to toe.
HaShem will bring you and your elected king to a nation unknown to you and your fathers, and there you will serve idolaters who worship wood and stone.
You will be an object of horror, a by-word and an abject lesson among all the nations where HaShem will lead you.
You will bring much seed out to the field, but the locusts will devour the crop and you will bring little back.
You will plant vineyards and work hard, but the worms will eat the grapes, so you will not drink wine or have a harvest.
You will have olive trees in all your territories, but the olives will drop off and you will not enjoy their oil.
You will have sons and daughters, but they will not remain yours, since they will be taken into captivity.
All your trees and the fruit of your land will be reduced by the cricket.
The alien among you will rise higher and higher over you, while you will descend lower and lower. He will make loans to you, but you will not be able to lend him anything. He will become the master, while you will be the vassal. All these curses will thus have come upon you, pursuing you and catching you so as to destroy you, all because you did not obey HaShem, and did not keep the commandments and decrees that He prescribed to you. These curses will be a sign and proof to you and your children forever.
When you had plenty of everything, you would not serve HaShem with happiness and a glad heart. You will therefore serve your enemies when HaShem sends them against you, and it will be in hunger, thirst, nakedness and universal want. Your enemy will place an iron yoke on your neck so as to destroy you. HaShem will bring upon you a nation from afar, from the end of the earth, swooping down like an eagle. It will be a nation whose language you do not understand, a sadistic nation, that has no respect for the old and no mercy for the young. That nation will eat the fruit of your livestock and the fruit of your land so as to destroy you. It will leave you nothing of your grain, wine, oil, calves in your herds and lambs in your flocks, so as to annihilate you. It will lay siege to you in all your settlements, until it has brought down all your high fortified walls, in which you trust, throughout your land. That nation will then persecute you in all the settlements throughout the land which HaShem has given you. If you are not careful to keep all the words of this Torah, as written in this book, so as to fear this glorious, awesome name of HaShem, then god will strike you and your descendants with unimaginable plagues. The punishments will be terrible and relentless, and the diseases will be malignant and unyielding. HaShem will bring back on you all the Egyptian diseases that you dread, and they will cling to you. HaShem will also bring upon you every punishment that is not written in this book of the Torah, so as to destroy you.
The above are the words of the covenant that HaShem instructed Moses to make with the Israelites in the land of Moab, besides the covenant that was made with them at Horeb.
Moses’ Final Speech
Moses summoned all Israel, and said to them: You have seen all that HaShem did in Egypt before your very eyes, to Pharaoh, to all his servants, and to all his land. Your own eyes saw the great miracles, signs and wonders. But until this day, HaShem did not give you a heart to know, eyes to see and ears to hear. HaShem is now declaring to you, “I brought you through the desert for forty years, during which your clothes did not wear out on you, and the shoes on your feet did not become tattered. You neither ate bread nor drank wine, so that you would know that I am HaShem.” When you came to this area, Sichon king of Cheshbon and Og king of the Bashan came out to fight us, but we defeated them.
We took their land, and gave it as a heritage to the Reubenites, the Gaddites and half the tribe of the Manassites. If you safeguard the words of this covenant and keep them, you will be successful in all you do.
This is the sixth of seven “Prophecies of Comfort” that are read between the 9th of Av and Rosh Hashanah
One of the curses in the Parsha mentions that if the people do not listen to HaShem he will send them away on boats. In the Haftara the curse becomes a blessing when the boats will return them to the land of Israel.
- Fiftieth of 54 Sedras in the Torah
- Written on 261 lines in the Sefer Torah
- 122 P’sukim (verses)
- 1,747 words
- 6,811 letters
Next week’s Parashat: Netzavim