Friday, September 02, 2016
Re'ei 5631 Second Ma'amar
Transforming Curse into Blessing
The first Midrash on the parsha says that when reading the curses and rebukes in parshas Ki Savo, it is impermissible to stop in the middle. The Midrash explains that God does not want the curses. Rather, He wants us to learn from them. When we contemplate the curses and rebukes and then return to God we transform the curses and rebukes into blessings. The Zohar says that a person who accepts his tribulations with love and returns to God transforms those torments into torments of love – יסורין של אהבה. He understands that, through the torments, God has shown him a way to return.
Based on this the Sfas Emes explains the first pasuk in this week’s parsha, “רְאֵה אָנֹכִי נֹתֵן לִפְנֵיכֶם הַיוֹם בְּרָכָה וּקְלָלָה/Look, I place before you today blessing and curse.” (Devarim 11:26) Conventionally, this means that God is giving us a choice between doing good and receiving blessing and doing evil and receiving curses. The Sfas Emes teaches, though, that God is not giving us a choice between two exclusive options. Rather, He gives us both blessing and curse, implying that we have control over them. The purpose of the curse is to guide us to return to God. If we return to God because of the curse, it becomes a blessing. We have the ability to transform the curse into blessing. This is why the Midrash teaches us not to stop in the middle of reading the rebukes in the Torah. The rebukes and curses are not separate from the blessing. Everything is potentially blessing and we are empowered to make it so.