Parashat Ki Tavo


Devarim 26:1 It will be when you enter the land that Hashem, your G-d, gives you as an inheritance, and you take possession of it, and dwell in it,

Rashi on 26:1 IT WILL BE WHEN YOU ENTER...AND YOU TAKE POSSESSION OF IT, AND DWELL IN IT. This [verse, which is immediately followed by the commandment of bringing the firstfruits,] teaches us that they were not obligated [to bring] "firstfruits" until they conquered the Land and divided it.

26:2 that you shall take of the first of every fruit of the ground that you bring in from your land that Hashem, your G-d, gives you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that Hashem, your G-d, will choose, to make His Name rest there.

Rashi on 26:2 OF THE FIRST but not all the first, because not all fruits are subject to [the mitzvah of] "firstfruits"—only the seven species [for which the land of Yisrael is noted]. Here, in our verse, it says the word eretz, "land," and there [in the verse describing the praise of Eretz Yisrael], it says, "A land (eretz) of wheat and barley, vines and figs and pomegranates, a land of oil-producing olives and honey" (Devarim 8:8). Just as the earlier verse (Devarim 8:8) is referring to the seven species through which Eretz Yisrael is praised, here too, [the verse is dealing with] the praise of the Land. [Rashi proceeds to explain two expressions in Devarim 8:8, which are relevant to the mitzvah of firstfruits, in light of the connection taught by our Rabbis above:]. The oil-producing olives [refers to] "aguri olives," [see Sifrei 26:2, meaning superior quality] olives that retain their oil, keeping it gathered (agur) [as it were] inside it. [Hence, it is the superior fruits which must be brought here]. [And in the same verse (Devarim 8:8):]

OF THE FIRST OF EVERY FRUIT. [What is the process of taking these fruits?] A man goes down into his field and sees a fig that has ripened. He winds a reed around it for a sign and declares: "This is the firstfruit (bikkurim)."

26:3 You shall come to the Kohen who will be in those days, and you shall say to him, "I declare today to Hashem, your G-d, that I have come to the land that Hashem swore to our forefathers to give us.

Rashi on 26:3 WHO WILL BE [SERVING] IN THOSE DAYS. You have only the Kohen in your days, whatever he is [and although he may not be as wise or holy as those of previous generations, you are obliged to address him with the respect due to his office as an agent of G-d].

AND YOU SHALL SAY TO HIM that you are not ungrateful [for all that G-d has done for you] "I declare today." [The expression, "today," teaches us that the one who brings the firstfruits must make this declaration] once a year, and not twice [even though he may return with more firstfruits later that same year].

26:4 The Kohen shall take the basket from your hand, and lay it before the Altar of Hashem, your G-d.

Rashi on 26:4 THE KOHEN SHALL TAKE THE BASKET FROM YOUR HAND - in order to wave it. [How so?] The Kohen places his hand under [the basket, beneath the level of] the owner’s hand [which is grasping the basket at the top, by its rim], and [in this position,] waves [the basket together with its owner].

26:5 Then you shall call out and say before Hashem, your G-d, "An Aramean would have destroyed my father, and he descended to Egypt and sojourned there, few in number, and there he became a nation - great, strong, and numerous.

Rashi on 26:5 THEN YOU SHALL CALL OUT. Hebrew: veanit veanita. [Usually meaning to "respond." However, in this context, this word] denotes the raising of the voice.

AN ARAMMIAN WOULD HAVE DESTROYED MY FATHER. [The declarer] mentions [here] the kind deeds of the Omnipresent [by stating]: "An Arammian [would have] destroyed my father." That is, Lavan, when he pursued Yaakov, sought to uproot [i.e., annihilate] all [the Jews], and since he intended to do so, the Omnipresent considered it as though he had actually done it, for [regarding] the pagan nations of the world, the Holy One, Blessed is He, considers the [mere] intention [of an evil deed] as [being equivalent to] the actual perpetration [of the deed itself].

AND HE DESCENDED TO EGYPT. And [apart from Lavan,] still others came upon us to annihilate us, for after this, Yaakov went down to Egypt ["and the Egyptians treated us cruelly..."].

FEW IN NUMBER. [Namely,] seventy persons.

26:9 He brought us to this place, and He gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.

Rashi on 26:9 TO THIS PLACE, meaning the Temple. [The expression hamakom hazeh must refer specifically to the Temple and not to the Land of Yisrael in general, because the following clause:] and He gave us this land [is to be understood] literally.

26:10 And now, behold! I have brought the first fruit of the ground that You have given me, O Hashem!" And you shall place it before Hashem, your G-d, and you shall prostrate yourself before Hashem, your G-d.

Rashi on 26:10 Then' you shall lay [The repetition of the expressions                (v4) AND YOU SHALL PLACE IT - teaches us [that there were two procedures involving laying the hands on the basket and waving it, namely that [the owner] takes [the basket] after the Kohen has [completed] waving it; [the owner subsequently] grasps it in his hand during his declaration, and then repeats the waving procedure.

26:11 You shall rejoice with all the goodness that Hashem, your G-d, has given to you and to your household - you and the Levi and the convert who is in your midst.

Rashi on 26:11 AND YOU SHALL REJOICE WITH ALL THE GOODNESS. From here, [our Rabbis] said that the firstfruits declaration is recited only at the time of "rejoicing," namely, from Shavuot until Sukkot, for [then] a person gathers in his grain, fruit, wine and oil [over which he rejoices]. However, from Sukkot and onwards, he must bring [his firstfruits to the Temple], but he does not recite the declaration.

YOU AND THE LEVI. [From here, we learn that] the Levi is also obligated in [the mitzvah of bringing] firstfruits if they planted [trees] within their [forty-eight] cities. [Outside of these cities, they had no land.]

AND THE CONVERT WHO IS IN YOUR MIDST. [I.e., the proselyte.] He brings [his firstfruits], but he does not recite the declaration, since he cannot say "to our fathers" [in the introduction to the declaration (v3): "I have come to the land which Hashem swore to our forefathers to give us"].

26:12 When you have finished tithing every tithe of your produce of the third year, the year of the tithe, and you will have given to the Levi, to the convert, to the orphan and to the widow, and they will have eaten in your sities and will have been satisfied,

Rashi on 26:12 WHEN YOU HAVE FINISHED TITHING EVERY TITHE OF YOUR PRODUCE OF THE THIRD YEAR. When you have finished separating the tithes of the third year [of the seven-year shemittah cycle]. It fixes a time for the removal [of the tithes from the house] and for the [accompanying] confession [regarding their proper disposal] on the Eve of Pesach [for the removal, and for the confession, in the afternoon of the last day of Pesach] of the fourth year, as it is said, "At the end of (miketz) three years, you shall take out [all the tithe of your crop] (Devarim 14:28), and later on, Scripture also uses this expression: "At the end of (miketz) seven years" (Devarim 31:10), referring to the mitzvah of hakhel [assembling all the people in the Temple courtyard, to hear the king read the book of Devarim]. Just as there, the mitzvah was to be performed on a Festival, here too [in the case of removing the tithes and reciting the confession, the mitzvah must be performed] on a Festival. But one could suggest that just as there [in the case of hakhel, the mitzvah was performed] on the Festival of Sukkot, here too, [the mitzvah must be performed] on the Festival of Sukkot. Therefore, Scripture states here: "When have you finished taking all the tithes in the third year"—[this refers to] a festival on which all tithes have been completely taken: this is Pesach [not Sukkot], because many trees have their fruits picked after Sukkot [but not after Pesach]. Consequently, the separating of tithes of the third year’s produce will conclude on Pesach of [the following year, namely] the fourth year. And anyone who has delayed [in distributing] his tithes is ordered by Scripture to remove [any remaining tithes] from the house [on Pesach of the fourth year of the shemittah cycle].

THE YEAR OF THE TITHE. [The third year of each shemittah cycle is called "the year of the tithe" because] it differs from its preceding two years insofar as it is a year in which only one of the tithes separated in the two preceding years is separated. During the first and second years of the shemittah cycle, the tithes separated are: a) maaser rishon, "the first tithe," as the verse says, "[Speak to the Leviim, and say to them,] "When you take from the children of Yisrael the tithe..." (BaMidbar 18:26) [referring to "the first tithe,"] and b) maaser sheni, "the second tithe," as the verse says, "And you shall eat before Hashem, your G-d... the tithes of your grain, of your wine and of your oil..." (Devarim 14:23) [which is a reference to "the second tithe"]. Thus, we have two tithes [being separated during the first two years of the shemittah cycle]. Now Scripture comes and teaches us that in the third year, only one of these two tithes is separated. And which one is that? It is "the first tithe." ["The second tithe is not separated during the third year."] Instead of "the second tithe," one must give "the tithe for the poor," for it says here in our verse "you shall give [them] to the Levi" what belongs to him, namely "the first tithe"` [then our verse continues:] "the stranger, the orphan, and the widow" — this is "the tithe for the poor."

AND THEY WILL HAVE EATEN IN YOUR CITIES AND WILL HAVE BEEN SATISFIED. Give them enough to satisfy them. Based on this, [our Rabbis] stated: One may not give the poor in the granary less than one-half a kav of wheat [or one kav of barley. [A kav represents the volume of twenty-four eggs].

26:13 then you shall say before Hashem, your G-d, "I have eliminated the holy things from the house, and I have also given it to the Levi, to the convert, to the orphan, and to the widow, according to the entire commandment that You commanded me; I have not transgressed any of Your commandments, and I have not forgotten.

Rashi on 26:13 THEN YOU SHALL SAY BEFORE HASHEM, YOUR G-D. Confess [i.e., declare] that you have given your tithes [as required].

I HAVE ELIMINATED THE HOLY THINGS FROM THE HOUSE. This refers to: a) "the second tithe," and b) neta revai, the fruit yielded by a tree in its fourth year of growth [both of which are termed kodesh, holy (portions)], they must be brought up to Yerushalayim and eaten there in purity. [Accordingly,] the verse here teaches us that if one has delayed bringing these tithes up to Yerushalayim for two years, he must take them up now [in the third year].

AND I HAVE ALSO GIVEN IT TO THE LEVI. This refers to "the first tithe."

AND...ALSO. [This seemingly superfluous word, "also,"] comes to include terumah [the part given to the Kohen] and the firstfruits [which is are also given to the Kohen. Since Kohanim stem from the tribe of Levi, they are referred to here as Leviim].

TO THE CONVERT, TO THE ORPHAN, AND TO THE WIDOW. This refers to "the tithe for the poor."

ACCORDING TO THE ENTIRE COMMANDMENT THAT YOU COMMANDED ME I have given them [the tithes] in their proper sequence (ibid). I did not give terumah before the firstfruits; I did not give tithes before terumah; I did not give the second tithe before the first tithe. For terumah is termed reishit, "the first one," because it is the first portion to be separated when the produce has become [matured] "grain," and it is written [regarding the separation of tithes]: meleatcha vedimacha lo teacher (Shemot 22:28), which means that one must not change the order [set out in Scripture for separating tithes].

I HAVE NOT TRANSGRESSED ANY OF YOUR COMMANDMENTS, I did not separate tithes from one species [of produce to fulfill the obligation of tithe-separation due] from another species [of produce], and I did not separate tithes from the new crop [of the year to fulfill the obligation of tithe-separation due] from the old crop.

AND I HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN to bless You [on the performance of the mitzvah] of separating tithes.

26:14 I have not eaten of it in my intense mourning, I have not consumed it in a state of impurity, and I have not given of it to a dead person; I have listened to the voice of Hashem, my G-d; I have acted according to everything You have commanded me.

Rashi on 26:14 I HAVE NOT EATEN OF IT IN MY INTENSE MOURNING. From here [our Rabbis derive the ruling that the second tithe] is forbidden to [be eaten by] an onein [close relative of a deceased on the day of death].

I HAVE NOT CONSUMED IT IN A STATE OF IMPURITY. Whether I was unclean and it was clean, or I was clean it was unclean. But where [in the Torah] is one warned against this? [The warning is alluded to in the verse: (Devarim 12:17),] "You shall not eat in your cities [the tithe...]." This refers to eating in a state of uncleanness, as it is said in reference to pesulei hamukdashim, [animals dedicated as sacrifices, which subsequently became blemished and consequently unfit for that purpose (see Devarim 15: 21-22) the Torah says,] "You may eat it within your cities, the unclean and the clean person together..." (Devarim 15:22). This [the second tithe], however, you shall not eat in the manner of "eating in the cities," mentioned elsewhere.

AND I HAVE NOT GIVEN OF IT TO A DEAD PERSON [using its value in money] to make for him a coffin or shrouds.

I HAVE LISTENED TO THE VOICE OF HASHEM, MY G-D [in that] I have brought [it] to the Temple. [In fact, the second tithe was not brought to the Temple, but eaten in Yerushalayim. If a person redeemed it, however, he was to bring the redempion money to Yerushalayim and purchase food to be eaten in Yerushalayim. Although all types of food could be purchsed, it was customary to purchase animals and sacrifice them as peace offerings. In this respect, the tithe would be brought into the Temple.]

I HAVE ACTED ACCORDING TO EVERYTHING YOU HAVE COMMANDED ME. I have myself rejoiced and caused others to rejoice through it.

26:15 Gaze down from Your holy abode, from the heavens, and bless Your people Yisrael, and the ground that You gave us, as You swore to our forefathers, a land flowing with milk and honey.

Rashi on 26:15 GAZE DOWN FROM YOUR HOLY ABODE. We have fulfilled what You have decreed upon us. Now You do what is incumbent upon You to do, for You said, "If you follow My statutes... then I shall give [you] your rains in their [proper] time..." (VaYikra 26:3-4).

THAT YOU GAVE US, AS YOU SWORE TO OUR FOREFATHERS to give to us, and You have [also] kept [the promise You made to our ancestors who left Egypt, that You would give us] "a land flowing with milk and honey."

26:16 This day, Hashem, your G-d, commands you to perform these statutes and the laws, and you shall observe and perform them with all your heart and with all your soul.

Rashi on 26:16 THIS DAY, HASHEM, YOUR G-D, COMMANDS YOU. Every day, you shall regard the commandments as if they are brand new, as though you are just today being commanded regarding them!

YOU SHALL OBSERVE AND PERFORM THEM. A heavenly voice is blessing you: "You have brought the firstfruits today—[so] will you merit to bring them next year!"

26:17 You have distinguished Hashem today to be a G-d for you, and to walk in His ways, and to observe His statutes, His commandments, and His laws, and to listen to His voice.

Rashi on 26:17 YOU HAVE DISTINGUISHED. Hebrew: heemarta; has distinguished you - Hebrew: heemircha. We do not find any equivalent expression in the Scriptures [which might give us a clue to the meaning of these words]. However, it appears to me that it denotes separation and distinction - heemir. [Thus, here, the meaning is as follows:] From all the pagan deities, you have set apart Hashem for yourself, to be your G-d, and He separated you to Him from all the peoples on earth to be His treasured people. [Notwithstanding,] I did find a similar expression [to heemir], which denotes "glory," as in the verse "[How long will] all workers of violence praise themselves (yitamru)?" (Tehillim 94:4).

26:18 And Hashem has distinguished you today to be for Him a treasured people, as He spoke to you, and to observe all His commandments,

Rashi on 26:18 AS HE SPOKE TO YOU. When He said]: "And [out of all the nations,] you shall be to Me a treasure" (Shemot 19: 5).

26:19 and to make you supreme over all the nations that He made, for praise, for renown, and for splendor, and so that you will be a holy people to Hashem, your G-d, as He spoke.

Rashi on 26:19 AND SO THAT YOU WILL BE A HOLY PEOPLE...AS HE SPOKE. [When He said]: "And you shall be holy to Me" (VaYikra 20: 26).

27:1 Moshe and the elders of Yisrael commanded the people, saying, "Keep the entire commandment that I command you this day.

Rashi on 27:1 KEEP THE ENTIRE COMMANDMENT. Hebrew: shamor. [The word shamor here denotes] continuous action [that is to say: "You must observe this commandment always"].

27:2 It shall be on the day that you cross the Yarden to the land that Hashem, your G-d, gives you, you shall set up great stones for yourself and you shall coat them with plaster.

Rashi on 27:2 YOU SHALL SET UP GREAT STONES FOR YOURSELF in the Yarden, and after this, you shall take out other [stones] from there, and out of this [second set of stones], build an altar on Mount 'Eval. Consequently, we find that there were three places [at which constructions] of stones [were set up]: a) Twelve [stones were put together] in the Yarden, b) the same [number of stones set up] at Gilgal [i.e., the Yisraelim's first stop in the land of Yisrael,] and c) the same [number of stones set up] at Mount 'Eval. The above is taught in Tractate Sotah (35b) [where the Talmud, citing Chapter 4 of Yehoshua, proves the above].

27:8 You shall inscribe on the stones all the words of this Torah, well clarified.

Rashi on 27:8 WELL CLARIFIED...very clearly in seventy languages.

27:9 Moshe and the Kohanim, the Leviim, spoke to all Yisrael, saying, "Be attentive and hear, O Yisrael: This day you have become a people to Hashem, your G-d.

Rashi on 27:9 BE ATTENTIVE. [To be understood] as the Targum [Onkelos] renders: atzeit, [meaning' "Listen!" or "Pay attention!"].

THIS DAY YOU HAVE BECOME A PEOPLE TO HASHEM, YOUR G-D. Every single day, it should seem to you as though you are today entering into a covenant with Him.

27:12 These shall stand to bless the people on Mount Gerizim, when you have crossed the Yarden: Shimon and Levi and Yehudah and Yissachar and Yosef and Binyamin.

Rashi on 27:12 TO BLESS THE PEOPLE. As it is found in Tractate Sotah (32a): Six tribes ascended to the top of Mount Gerizim and [the other] six to the top of Mount 'Eval; the Kohanim, the Leviim and the [holy] ark stood below in the middle. The Levim turned their faces towards Mount Gerizim and began with the blessing: "Blessed be the man who does not make a graven or molten image...," and these [the tribes on Mount Gerizim] and these [the tribes on Mount 'Eval] answered "Amein!" Then [the Leviim] turned their faces towards Mount 'Eval and began with the curse, saying: "Cursed be the man who makes any graven [or molten] image...," and these [the tribes on Mount Gerizim] and these [the tribes on Mount 'Eval] responded "Amein!" The Leviim then turned their faces once again towards Mount Gerizim, and said: "Blessed be he who does not degrade his father and mother," [and the tribes on Mount Gerizim and those on Mount 'Eval responded "Amein!" The Leviim] would then turn their faces once again towards Mount 'Eval, and say: "Cursed be he who degrades his father and mother," [and the tribes on Mount Gerizim and those on Mount 'Eval responded "Amein!"]. Thus [it would continue] in this manner for all of them [the blessings and curses] until [the very last curse, namely (v26)]: "Cursed be the one who does not uphold [the words of this Torah]."

27:16 'Accursed is one who degrades his father or mother.' And the entire people shall say, 'Amein.'

Rashi on 27:16 WHO DEGRADES HIS FATHER. Hebrew: makeleh aviv [The word makeleh means:] to treat cheaply [i.e., with disrespect]. It is similar to the verse, "your brother will be degraded" (Devarim 25:3).

27:17 'Accursed is one who moves back the boundary of his fellow.' And the entire people shall say, 'Amein.'

Rashi on 27:17 WHO MOVES BACK THE BOUNDARY OF HIS FELLOW, moving it back and stealing the land. [The term masig] is an expression similar to, "has turned backwards (vehusag achor)" (Yeshayahu 59:14).

27:18 'Accursed is one who causes a blind person to go astray on teh road.' And the entire people shall say, 'Amein.'

Rashi on 27:18 WHO CAUSES A BLIND PERSON TO GO ASTRAY. One [figuratively] blind regarding some matter [i.e., ignorant or inexperienced], and [knowingly] giving him bad advice.

27:24 'Accursed is one who strikes his fellow in secret.' And the entire people shall say, 'Amein.'

Rashi on 27:24 WHO STRIKES HIS FELLOW IN SECRET. [Scripture] is speaking of [someone who causes harm to his fellow Jew through] slander. I saw in the Yesod of Rabbi Moshe Hadarshan that there are eleven curses here, corresponding to eleven tribes. [Each of eleven tribes was blessed by Moshe before he passed away. Here, we learn that every tribe had an allusionary curse attached to it, as if in admonishment: "If you do G-d’s will, you will be granted the blessing, but if not, then there is a curse attached."] But in allusion to [the tribe of] Shimon, [Moshe] did not write "Cursed be he...," for [Moshe] did not intend to bless [the tribe of] Shimon [individually] prior to his passing, when he blessed the other tribes. Therefore, [Moshe] did not wish to curse them [either. Moshe did not deem the tribe of Shimon deserving of a direct blessing before he passed away, on account of the shocking incident at Shittim which involved the leader of the tribe of Shimon having illicit relations with a Midyani princess. See BaMidbar 25:1-15].

27:26 'Accursed is one who will not uphold the words of this Torah, to perform them.' And the entire people shall say, 'Amein.'

Rashi on 27:26 WHO WILL NOT UPHOLD THE WORDS OF THIS TORAH. Here [in this curse,] Moshe included the entire Torah, and they accepted it upon themselves with a curse and an oath.

28:4 Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb, and the fruit of your ground, and the fruit of your animals; the offspring of your cattle and the herds of your flocks.

Rashi on 28:4 THE OFFSPRING OF YOUR CATTLE, the young which are born from your cattle, [that is,] which the animal sends forth (meshageret,) from its womb.

THE HERDS OF YORU FLOCKS. [This expression is to be understood] as it is rendered by the Targum [Onkelos]: "and the flocks of your sheep." Our Rabbis, however, said: Why are [sheep] ashterot? Because they enrich (maashirot) their owners and maintain them, as ashterot, which are strong rocks.

28:5 Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.

Rashi on 28:5 BLESSED SHALL BE YOUR BASKET. Your fruits. Another explanation of tanacha: liquids which you strain through baskets [used as strainers].

AND YOUR KNEADING BOWL. Something dry, which remains (nishar) in the receptacle and does not flow through. [This interpretation follows the latter interpretation in the above Rashi. According to the former interpretation, this means simply "your kneading bowl."

28:6 Blessed are you in your coming and blessed shall you be in your going.

Rashi on 28:6 BLESSED ARE YOU IN YOUR COMING AND BLESSED SHALL YOU BE IN YOUR GOING. May your departure from the world be as free of sin as was your entry into the world.

28:7 Hashem shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be struck down before you; on one road will they go out toward you and on seven roads shall they flee before you.

Rashi on 28:7 ON SEVEN ROADS SHALL THEY FLEE BEFORE YOU. Such is the way of those who flee out of fear: they scatter in all directions.

28:20 Hashem will send in your midst degeneration, confusion, and worry, in your every undertaking that you will do, until you are destroyed, and until you are quickly annihilated, because of the evil of your deeds, for having forsaken Me.

Rashi on 28;20 DEGENERATION, "shortage," similar to "a lesion which causes loss [to the person stricken with it]" (VaYikra 13:51).

CONFUSION. [Rendered by Onkelos as shigushaya, meaning] confusion, the sound of panic.

28:22 Hashem wills strike you with wasting away, and with fever, and with fiery fever, and with parching, and with the sword; and with blasting and with withering - and they will pursue you until you are annihilated.

Rashi on 28:22 WITH WASTING AWAY [a disease] whereby one’s flesh wastes away and swells.

AND WITH FEVER as in the expression "For a fire burns (kadcha) in My nose" (Devarim 32:22). [In this context, the term refers to] the feverish "fire" of the sick, malevei in Old French, which means intense heat.

AND WITH FIERY FEVER. A feverish heat, more intense than kadachat. [All] these [terms listed in these verses, refer to] various types of diseases.

AND WITH PARCHING. This is a disease which heats up inside the body, causing him [the patient] to suffer continuous thirst for water, esardement in Old French, parching fever, as in the expressions: "and my bones dried out (charah) from the heat" (Iyov 30:30), and "The bellows is heated (nichar) from the fire" (Yirmeyahu 6:29).

AND WITH THE SWORD. He will bring [hostile] armies upon you.

AND WITH BLASTING AND WITH WITHERING. Diseases of the grain in the field.

BLASTING, an easterly wind, hasled in Old French, [meaning that the east wind causes the grain to be blasted].

WITHERING, drought, whereby the surface of the grain pales and turns yellow, chaume (?) in Old French.

UNTIL YOU ARE ANNIHILATED. [This phrase could be misconstrued to mean: "until you become lost" by G-d and found by others. Therefore, Rashi cites] the Targum [which] renders the phrase as: "until you perish," meaning, "you will perish, of your own accord."

28:23 Your heavens that are over your head will be copper and the land that is beneath you will be iron.

Rashi on 28:23 YOUR HEAVENS THAT ARE OVER YOUR HEAD WILL BE COPPER. These curses [proclaimed here at Mount 'Eval] were pronounced by Moshe himself [albeit through divine inspiration], whereas those [curses] made at Mount Sinai (VaYikra 26:14-39) Moshe pronounced from the mouth of the Holy One, Blessed is He. This is demonstrated by the verses themselves: The verse there says, "But if you will not listen to Me " (VaYikra 26:14), and, "And if you regard Me as coincidence" (26:21), [all referring to G-d in the first person]. Here, however, the verse says, "obey Hashem, your G-d " (v15)," Hashem will make..." (v21), and "Hashem will strike you" (v22) [all referring to G-d in the third person, demonstrating that Moshe is speaking]. Moshe made his curses milder [than those at Mount Sinai], for he expressed them in the singular form [as if spoken to an individual]. Furthermore, in this curse [in our verse here], Moshe made his milder [than the corresponding curse at Mount Sinai by G-d], for in the first curses [in VaYikra], G-d said, "[And I shall make] your skies like iron, and your earth like copper" (VaYikra 26:19), [meaning that] that the skies will not sweat [i.e., be moist], just as iron does not sweat; consequently, there will be drought in the world. But the earth will sweat, just as copper sweats, thereby causing its fruits to rot. Here, however, Scripture says, "Your heavens...copper, and the land...iron." [This means] that the skies will sweat [i.e., be moist], and thus, even though they will not pour down rain, there will not be a consuming drought in the world. Also, [this means that] the earth will not sweat, just as iron does not sweat; thus, the fruits will not rot. [Although the curse here contains these milder elements as explained,] it is, nevertheless, a curse, for whether it [the earth] is like copper or whether it is like iron, it will not produce fruit. And similarly, the skies [whether they become like copper or iron] will not pour down rain.

28:24 Hashem will make the rain of your land dust and dirt; from the heaven it will descend upon you until you are destroyed.

Rashi on 28:24 HASHEM WILL MAKE THE RAIN OF YOUR LAND DUST AND DIRT. [How do these two opposites coincide, rain and dust? The Talmud answers] (Taanit 3b): "[The text is referring to] a wind which follows the rain." Rain will fall, but insufficiently; moreover, there will not even be enough rain to cause the dust to settle. Then, a wind will come and raise the dust and cover the vegetation [sprouting] from the seeds, which are still moist from the water. [The dust] will adhere to them, forming [a layer of] mud, [which] will dry up [on the vegetation], causing it to rot. [This, then, is the meaning of the curse: "Hashem will make the rain of your land dust and dirt."]

28:25 Hashem will cause you to be sruck down before your enemies; on one road you will go out against him, but on seven roads will you flee before him; and you will be a trembling to all the kingdoms of the earth.

Rashi on 28:25 A TREMBLING, For a cause of dread and of trembling; that all who hear of your afflictions will tremble, and they will say, "Whoe to us! Let this not befall us, in the way in which it has befallen these [people]!"

28:27 Hashem will strike you with the boils of Egypt, with hemorrhoids, with garav and with cheres, of which you cannot be cured.

Rashi on 28:27 WITH THE BOILS OF EGYPT. This was a very severe [lesion]: it was moist on the inside and dry on the outside, as taught in tractate Bechorot 41a.

GARAV. [This means] wet boils.

CHERES. [This means] boils dry as shards.

28:28 Hashem will strike you with madness and with blindness, and with confounding of the heart.

Rashi on 28:28 AND WITH CONFOUNDING OF THE HEART, literally, "clogging of the heart."

28:29 You will grope at noontime as a blind man gropes in the darkness, but you will not succeed on your way; you will be only harried and robbed all the days, ad there will be no savior.

Rashi on 28:29 HARRIED, you will experience controversy regarding everything you do.

28:30 You will betroth a woman, but another man will lie with her; you will build a house, but you will not dwell in it; you will plant a vineyard, but you will not render it profane.

Rashi on 28:30 WILL LIE WITH HER. Hebrew: yishgalena. [This word stems] from the root shegal, meaning a pilegesh [which refers to a wife without a Jewish marriage contract, i.e., a concubine. Nevertheless,] Scripture euphemizes the term [by having it read as yishkavena instead], thus [giving it] a more delicate implication. This is [like] a modification made by scribes.

RENDER IT PROFANE. [This is referring to the fruits of a tree, which must not be used for the first three years of the tree’s life. Then, the fruits of the fourth year take on holy status and are taken to Yerushalayim to be eaten. If it is too difficult to take them to Yerushalayim they are redeemed with money, which is, in turn, taken to Yerushalayim, where food is purchased for it. Here, then, the curse means that the person will plant his vineyard, but will not live to redeem it] in the fourth year to eat its fruits.

28:32 Your sons and daughters will be given to another people - and your eyes wil see and pine for them all day long, but your hand will be powerless.

Rashi on 28:32 AND PINE FOR THEM. [Meaning: Your eyes] will longingly look out for the return [of your children], but they will not return. The expression kilyon einayim refers to a hope which never materializes.

28:37 You will be for astonishment, for a parable, and for a topic of conversation, among all the peoples where Hashem will lead you.

Rashi on 28:37 YOU WILL BE FOR AN ASTONISHMENT. Hebrew: leshama. [This word is] similar to timahon [meaning, astonishment]. [Thus, the meaning here is:] whoever sees you will be astonished about you.

FOR A PARABLE. When some terrible trouble befalls a person, [people] will say: "This is like the trouble that happened to so-and-so."

AND FOR A TOPIC OF CONVERSATION. An expression similar to "And you will teach them (veshinantem)" (Devarim 6:7) [...and speak of them/ That is' people] will speak about you/ The Targum [ Onkelos ] renders this [word] in the same way, [namely:] uleshoer, [which is similar to] veishtair, [meaning to talk].

28:38 You will take abundant seed out to the field, but you will harvest little, for the locust will ravage it.

Rashi on 28:38 WILL RAVAGE IT [meaning that the locusts] will completely destroy it. For this reason [one species of locust] is called chasil, a name related to yachselenu, because it destroys everything.

28:40 You will have olive trees throughout your boundaries, but you will not anoint with oil, for your olive tree will shed.

Rashi on 28:40 WILL SHED. [Meaning, the olive tree] will shed its fruit. This is similar to the verb, "and the iron flew off [or slipped off] (venashal)" (Devarim 19:5).

28:42 All your trees and the fruits of your ground, the locust will impoverish.

Rashi on 28:42 THE LOCUST WILL IMPOVERISH. [The word yeyaresh stems from the word rash, which means destitute or devoid. Thus, the verse here means that] the locusts will cause the tree to be devoid of fruit. [Therefore,] yeyaresh [has the meaning of] yaani, "making it destitute."

TZELATZAL, a [particular] species of locust [which makes a loud sound (tzelil)]. Now, [the word yeyaresh] must not be understood as denoting yerusha, "inheritance," for in that case, the Scripture would have written: yirash [i.e., with a different vocalization. Similarly,] it should not be understood to mean horasha, "driving out" for in that case, Scripture would have written: yirash. [Rather, the word means "to make destitute, devoid," as explained above.]

28:47 because you did not serve Hashem, your G-d, with gladness and with goodness of heart, out of an abundance of everything.

Rashi on 28:47 OUT OF AN ABUNDANCE OF EVERYTHING when you still had all good things.

28:49 Hashem will carry against you a nation from afar, from the end of the earth, as an eagle flies, a nation whose language you will not understand;

Rashi on 28:49 Hashem will carry against you a nation from afar, from the end of the earth, as an eagle flies, a nation whose language you will not understand;

AS AN EAGLE FLIES, i.e., suddenly and successfully. The horses [of this enemy nation] will run swiftly.

WHOSE LANGUAGE YOU WILL NOT UNDERSTAND. [Literally, "You will not hear his language," i.e.,] you will not recognize its language. [We find a similar expression in Scripture:] "you understand (tishma) a dream, to interpret it" (Bereishit 41:15). Also, "[but they did not know] that Yosef understood (shomea)" (Bereishit 42:23).

28:52 It will besiege you in all your cities, until the conquest of your high and fortified walls in which you trusted throughout yoru land; it will besiege you in all your cities, in all your land, which Hashem, your G-d, has given you.

Rashi on 28:52 UNTIL THE CONQUEST OF YOUR HIGH AND FORTIFIED WALLS. [The redet here is [an expression of subjugation and conquest.

28:53 And you will eat the fruit of your womb - the flesh of your sons and daughters, which Hashem, your G-d, had given you - because of the siege and distress that your enemy will distress you.

Rashi on 28:53 AND YOU WILL EAT THE FRUIT OF YOUR WOMB...THE FLESH OF YOUR SONS...BECAUSE OF THE SIEGE AND DISTRESS. Because [the enemies] will besiege the city, and there will be caused desperation, the distress of famine.

28:54 The tender man among you and the very delicate one will turn [too] selfish against his brother and the wife of his bosom, and against the remaining sons whom he has let survive,

Rashi on 28:54 THE TENDER MAN AMONG YOU AND THE VERY DELICATE ONE. This is referring to the same person, who is both tender and delicate. These terms denote a pampered existence. [The fact] that these two expressions refer to the same person is proved [by their use together], when it says, "because of delicacy and tenderness" (v56) [referring to the same person. And here, the verse tells us that] although he is so pampered and he [normally] cannot tolerate anything repugnant, the flesh of his sons and daughters will seem sweet to him as a result of his [intense] hunger. And it will reach a stage where he will begrudge his remaining children, by denying any of them the flesh of his sons, their brothers, which he is eating. Another explanation of harach becha: The merciful and tenderhearted will become cruel because of the intense hunger, and they will not give the flesh of their slaughtered children to their remaining children.

28:56 The tender woman among you, and the delicate one who had never tired to set the sole of her foot on the ground because of delicacy and tenderness, will turn selfish against her husband of her bosom, and against her son and daughter.

Rashi on 28:56 WILL TURN AGAINST HER HUSBAND OF HER BOSOM, AND AGAINST HER SON AND DAUGHTER [referring to her] grown-up [children].

28:57 and against her afterbirth that emerges from between her legs, and against her children whom she will bear - for she will eat them in secret for lack of anything, in the siege and distress that your enemy will distress you in your cities.

Rashi on 28:57 AND AGAINST HER AFTERBIRTH THAT EMERGES FROM BETWEEN HER LEGS i.e., the small children, she will begrudge all of them [the elder and the younger children] when she eats one by denying those beside her any of the flesh.

28:59 then Hashem will make extraordinary your blows and the blows of your offspring - great and faithful blows, and evil and faithful illnesses.

Rashi on 28:59 THEN HASHEM WILL MAKE EXTRAORDINARY YOUR BLOWS. [Hashem will bring upon you plagues which are more] remarkable and different from any other plagues.

AND FAITHFUL. [I.e., these plagues will "faithfully"] chastise you in order to fulfill their mission.

28:60 He will bring back upon you all the sufferings of Egypt, before which you were terrified, and they will cleave to you.

Rashi on 28:60 [HE WILL BRING BACK UPON YOU ALL THE SUFFERINGS OF EGYPT], BEFORE WHICH YOU WERE TERRIFIED. [You were terrified of] those diseases [not that you dreaded Egypt]. When Yisrael saw the extraordinary plagues that befell Egypt, they were afraid of them, i.e., they were afraid that these plagues would befall them too. You should know, [that the Yisraelim dreaded the plagues of Egypt,] because it is written, "If you hearken..., all the sickness that I have visited upon Egypt, I will not visit upon you" (Shemot 15:26) [implying that if you do not hearken, I will place them upon you! Since Yisrael feared those plagues, G-d used them as a threat, because] one can instill fear into a person only through something he fears.

28:61 Even any illness and any blow that is not written in the Book of this Torah, Hashem will bring them upon you, until you are destroyed.

Rashi on 28:61 WILL BRING THEM UPON YOU. Hebrew: yalem. [This term is] an expression of aliyah, going up.

28:62 You will be left few in number, instead of having been like the stars of heaven in abundance, for you will not have listened to the voice of Hashem, your G-d.

Rashi on 28:62 YOU WILL BE LEFT FEW IN NUMBER. Instead of being numerous ["as the stars of the heaven"], you will be few [in number].

28:63 And it will be that just as Hashem rejoiced over you to benefit you and multiply you, so will Hashem make [them] rejoice over you to make you perish and to destroy you; and you will be torn from upon the ground to which you come to take possession.

Rashi on 28:63 SO WILL HASHEM MAKE [THEM] REJOICE. [I.e., "so will He make] your enemies [rejoice] over you, to annihilate you." But the Holy One, Blessed is He, Himself, does not rejoice. From here, we learn that the Holy One, Blessed is He, does not rejoice over the downfall of the wicked, for in our verse it does not say [in the simple conjugation], "rejoice," but rather in the causative conjugation, "cause to rejoice." I.e., G-d will make others rejoice over your downfall, because you acted wickedly, while He Himself will not personally rejoice over your downfall. Nevertheless, when it comes to bestowing good upon the righteous, G-d Himself rejoices, as it is said: "just as Hashem rejoiced (sas over you [to do good for you," where the verb sas is in the simple conjugation, for G-d Himself rejoices here].

AND YOU WILL BE TORN, an expression of uprooting. Similar to this is the verse, "Hashem will uproot (yisach) the house of the arrogant" (Mishle 15:25).

28:64 Hashem will scatter you among all the peoples, from the end of the earth to the end of the earth, and there you will serve the gods of others, whom you did not know - you or your forefathers - of wood and of stone.

Rashi on 28:64 AND THERE YOU WILL SERVE THE GODS OF OTHERS. As the Targum [Onkelos] renders: [and there you will serve nations that worship idols. Thus, the verse is] not referring to actual idolatry, but rather paying customs and head taxes to idolatrous priests.

28:65 And among those nations you will not be tranquil, there will be no rest for the sole of your foot; there Hashem will give you a trembling heart, longing of eyes, and suffering of soul.

Rashi on 28:65 YOU WILL NOT BE TRANQUIL [meaning, as Onkelos renders:] "You will not rest." Similar to this is the verse, "and this is the rest (hamargea)" (Yeshayahu 28:12).

A TREMBLING HEART as the Targum [Onkelos] renders: "fearful, trembling," similar to "Gehinnom from beneath quaked (ragza) for you" (Yeshayahu 14:9), "Peoples heard; they trembled (yirgazun)" (Shemot 15:14), and "The foundations of heaven trembled (yirgazu)" (2Shmuel 22:8).

LONGING OF EYES. [I.e.,] hoping for a salvation, but it never comes.

28:66 Your life will hang opposite you, and you will be frightened night and day, and you will not be certain of your life.

Rashi on 28:66 YOUR LIFE WILL HANG OPPOSITE YOU, [meaning that they hang in suspense] because of uncertainty. Any doubt is denoted by the term "hanging" i.e., "in suspense." [Here, the doubt is that you will constantly think:] "Perhaps I will die today by the sword that is befalling us." Our Rabbis explain this verse as referring to one who purchases produce from the marketplace. [I.e., he relies directly on the marketplace for his sustenance, with the risk that if one time there is no produce in the market, he will not have provisions. Thus, his life "hangs in suspense."]

AND YOU WILL NOT BE CERTAIN OF YOUR LIFE. This refers to one who relies on the shopkeeper [for his sustenance. This curse, therefore, represents a level of trust far worse than the one who relies upon the marketplace. A person can take provisions from the marketplace to last a long time, but one who relies upon the middleman is at further risk of not receiving sustenance].

28:67 In the morning you will say, "If only it would be evening!" And in the evening you will say, "If only it would be morning!" - for the fright of your heart that you will fear and the sight of your eyes that you will see.

Rashi on 28:67 IN THE MORNING YOU WILL SAY, "IF ONLY IT WOULD BE EVENING!" [I.e.,] if it were only yesterday evening! [The trouble will be worse in the morning, so that you will yearn for the previous evening].

AND IN THE EVENING YOU WILL SAY, "iF ONLY IT WOULD BE MORNING!" [I.e.,] if it were only morning of that day! Thus, the troubles will always progressively intensify; each hour, the curse will be more severe than the preceding one.

28:68 Hashem will return you to Egypt in ships, on the way of which I said to you, "You shall never again see it!" And there you will offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as slaves and slavewomen - and there will be no buyer!

Rashi on 28:68 IN SHIPS. In ships of captivity.

AND THERE YOU WILL OFFER YOURSELVES FOR SALE TO YOUR ENEMIES. You will wish to be sold to them as slaves and handmaids.

AND THERE WILL BE NO BUYER! Because they will decree death and destruction upon you.

AND [THERE] YOU WIL OFFER YOURSELVES FOR SALE. [That is, the verb is in the reflexive conjugation. Accordingly,] it is incorrect to explain [as if in the passive conjugation, i.e.,] as "and you will be sold" — sold by others — because the verse continues: "but there will be no buyer." [Thus how could they be "sold by others" if there is "no buyer"?]

28:69 These are the words of the covenant Hashem commanded Moshe to forge with the Children of Yisrael in the land of Moav, besides the covenant that He sealed with them in Chorev.

Rashi on 28:69 [THE COVENANT HASHEM COMMANDED MOSHE] TO FORGE WITH THE CHILDREN OF YISRAEL that they should accept the Torah upon themselves with a curse and an oath.

BESIDES THE COVENANT. [Namely,] the curses [which appear] in VaYikra (26:14-39), which were proclaimed at [Mount] Sinai.

29:3 But Hashem did not give you a heart to know, or eyes to see, or ears to hear, until this day.

Rashi on 29:3 BUT HASHEM DID NOT GIVE YOU A HEART TO KNOW. [I.e.,] to recognize the kind acts of the Holy One, Blessed is He, and [therefore] to cleave to Him.

UNTIL THIS DAY. I heard that on the very day that Moshe gave the Torah scroll to the sons of Levi - as the verse says, "And he gave it to the Kohanim, the sons of Levi" (Devarim 31:19) — all Yisrael came before Moshe and said to him: "Moshe, our Teacher! We also stood at [Mount] Sinai and accepted the Torah, and it was [also] given to us! Why, then, are you giving the members of your tribe control over it, so that some day in the future they may claim, 'It was not given to you — it was given only to us!’" Moshe rejoiced over this matter and it was on account of this, that he said to them, "This day, you have become a people [to Hashem your G-d]" (Devarim 27:9). [This meant:] "It is today that I understand that you cleave to the Omnipresent and desire Him."

29:6 And you arrived at this place, and Sichon, king of Cheshbon, and 'Og, kiing of Bashan, went out toward us to battle, and we smote them.

Rashi on 29:6 AND YOU ARRIVED AT THIS PLACE. Now you see yourselves in greatness and in honor; [but] do not rebel against the Omnipresent nor let your hearts become haughty; rather, "Keep the words of this covenant" (v8). Another explanation of "But... Hashem did not give you a heart to know" (v3): No one can fathom neither the depths of his teacher’s mind nor the wisdom of his studies before forty years. Hence, the Omnipresent was not strict with you until this day; but from now on [since today marks forty years for the people of Yisrael], He will be strict with you; and therefore: "Keep the words of this covenant..." (v8).


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