Bechukotai: Turning Curses into Blessings



Skeptics tend to dismiss the Torah as a primitive book presenting an angry, vengeful God. One part often singled out by them is this week’s Torah reading, which lists a series of curses. They ask: Why would God stoop to cursing His people?

Indeed, the Torah states that God created flawed mortals, so why would He curse them with cruel punishments for behaving like who they are – human? Is this sadism? Does God have nothing better to do? And how do these curses help us have a loving relationship with Him? Do they not accomplish the opposite?

A cryptic story in the Talmud cites the author of the chief work of Kabbalah known as the Zohar, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, whose yahrzeitwe honor tomorrow on Lag B’omer. This story reveals for us a fascinating mystical way to look at the biblical “curses” – and at all difficult challenges in our own lives, for that matter – not as curses but as concealed blessings.


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