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Torah Message:

Subtle as a Brick

“You are standing today…” (29:9)

Rashi comments on this verse: “For when Israel heard a hundred curses minus two (in the previous parsha), their faces turned green. They said, ‘Who can stand these(curses)?’ Moshe began to mollify them (with the first words of this week’s parsha)‘You are standing…’

If the purpose of the curses was to arouse the fear of Heaven in the hearts or the Jewish People, why did Moshe seek to mollify their effect and dilute the impression they made on the Israel?

An unsophisticated individual is affected by bald threats and explicit warnings. The more intelligent and sophisticated the person, the more subtle can be the reproof, and the greater can be the appeal to logic and reason.

The Jews who left Egypt were the “Generation of Knowledge” — Dor de’ah. Never was there a generation on such an exalted plane. When they heard such graphic and bare-faced curses and threats, their faces “turned green”. This means that they were very hurt that they were considered to be on such a low level that they required such overt and explicit physical threats.

Thus Moshe started to placate then and told them that these threats were not directed at them: “You are standing all of you in front of the L-rd, your G-d.” You are still standing on the highest level, close to G-d, and these warnings are not directed at you. However, “not with you alone do I make this covenant… but also with those who are not here today,” — with those future generations who will sink to the level that only the most explicit warnings will speak to them.

  • Sources: Kehillat Yaakov in Mayana shel Torah