Keeping the Entire Torah

Sotah (7:5) | Yisrael Bankier | 3 years ago

Both in this week's Mishnahyot and this week's parasha we learn about the berachot and kelalot. The Mishnah (7:5) explains that when klal Yisrael crossed the Yarden in the times of Yehoshua, they came to har Grizim and har Eival, with six tribes congregating on one and six on the other. The aron was stationed between the two mountains with the (elder) kohanim and leviim surrounding it. They would face har Grizin and call out one of the berachot, with everyone responding amen. They would then face har Eival and call out the complimentary curse, with everyone again responding amen. They would continue in this manner until all the berachot and kelalot were called out.

The Mishnah explains that the kelalot were the "arurim" that are listing in the parasha. The berachot were therefore the compliment of those kelalot. The example the Mishnah brings is the beracha "blessed is the one that does not make an idol or image" with the kelala being "cursed is the one that makes an idol or image".

The final kelala mentioned in the Torah is, "cursed is one who will not uphold the words of this Torah" (13:26). What is the intention of this curse?

Rashi explains that this curse is understood as simply encompassing the entire Torah ensuring that its acceptance was done by way of oath and curse. In a similar direction, the Sforno explains that this curse applies to one that feels that a particular mitzvah is not relevant - a mumar le'davar echad (see also Shaarei Teshuva). The Ramban comments that by extension, the curse would therefore not cover an individual whose desires or laziness drove him to violate a transgression or not fulfil a mitzvah. The issue is the acceptance of the entire Torah.

The Ibn Ezra cites the above explanation and another one that it only encompasses those ten curses that were mentioned just prior to it. He however prefers to explain that the curse applies to those you do not perform the positive mitzvot even in private (see Rashbam). The Kli Yakar adds, citing the Akeida that "asher lo yakim" ("does not uphold") refers to one that does not learn the Torah lishmah – for its own sake. Instead, he does so out of arrogance to be considered wise, with no intention of keeping the mitzvot, and when push comes to shove will abandon them. That is why a critical part of the kelala is "asher lo yakim", with fulfilment being the focus. This also explains why the practice is covered by a kelala that Hashem alone will execute. Since it is seated in the inner world of the individual, it is only discernible to Hashem (see HaKetav VeHakabala.)

Other commentaries however broaden the responsibility implied by this curse beyond the individual. The Shir Me'on notes that the word "them" – la'asot otam – appears to be superfluous. He therefore explains that the curse applies to one who has the capacity, within his sphere of influence, to make other keep the Torahla'asot otam – yet forgoes that responsibility. The Emek Davar explains more directly that it applies to an individual that despite being unable to uphold the Torah through its study, also declines in upholding the Torah by supporting those that can.

The Torah Temima however cites the Yerushalmi that explains that "asher lo yakim" refers to a chazan. He notes the Ramban's explanation that the chazan refers to one performing hagbah but does not raise the Torah so that all can see the text. The Torah Temima however explains that the chazan, in the language of the Mishnah (Shabbat 11:1) refers to a teacher. In the context of the kelala this refers to one that teaches his students with many errors, engraining in them flawed principles. Such teaching can lead to uprooting principles of the Torah and deserving of the curse.


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