Re’eh: A blessing and a curse

Blessing

The opening verses of this week’s perasha is generally translated: See, I give you today a blessing and a curse. The blessing, if…;  he curse if… (Deut. 11:26-28)

The translation of the opening verse, however, looses a glaring grammatical error in the Hebrew, because the word “See” is singular, while “you” is plural!

text

See! (singular), I give you (plural) today a blessing and a curse.

The famous rationalist commentator Abraham Ibn Ezra, deals with it as he does with a number of similar cases, by considering it the Torah’s way of addressing each Israelite personally:

“Each one of you, see the that I give you all a blessing and a curse…”

and this explanation certainly solves the difficulty.

Nonetheless other commentators felt the difficulty was enough to warrant a homiletic explanation. HaEmek Davar suggests the following, which is a particularly pertinent message for the month of Ellul, which begins next week:

Each one of us should remember that his actions affect not only himself/herself, but also the entire community. When we do good we bring blessing not only on ourselves, but on the community at large too. And the opposite.

Jacob blessing Joseph’s sons, by Rembrandt

Jacob blessing Joseph’s sons, by Rembrandt

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