Parshas Ki Savo contains the second set of curses, known as the Tochachah, told to Bnei Yisrael. These curses, along with the first set in Parshas Bechukosai, tell a frightening tale of what could happen to the Jewish people if they fail to uphold the laws of the Torah. However, this parsha contains an interesting note not found in Bechukosai, which gives us a tip on how to avoid reaching this stag: “תַּ֗חַת אֲשֶׁ֤ר לֹֽא־עָבַ֨דְתָּ֙ אֶת־יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ בְּשִׂמְחָ֖ה וּבְט֣וּב לֵבָ֑ב מֵרֹ֖ב כֹּֽל” “Because you did not serve Hashem, your God, with happiness and with goodness of heart, out of an abundance of everything” (Devarim 28:47).
The Ohr HaChaim points out an important difference between the two sets of curses. In Bechukosai, after listing all the curses, the Torah follows up with a few uplifting pesukim, explaining how even when all seems lost, Hashem still will not give up on us. (See Vayikra 26:44-45.) However, Ki Savo contains no such pesukim, the Torah simply lists curse after curse until the section ends. How come there are no pesukim of consolation in our parsha?
The Ohr HaChaim begins his answer by asking another question. Why do we need a second set of curses? Weren’t the ones in Bechukosai already enough? The answer is that the curses in Bechukosai were said for when the nation as a whole (or majority) will leave the path, while the curses in this week’s parsha deal with individuals who may sin. When the nation sins as a whole, there may be a good section of the people who never sin or repent, or vice versa. Therefore, we need another set of curses to deal with the individual people who persist in their evil ways, found in Ki Savo.
We can now understand why the pasuk offers consolation only in Bechukosai. When dealing with the sins of the entire nation, the Torah wants to be sure we understand that Hashem guarantees that no matter how poorly we act, Hashem will always be there for us as a nation. When it comes to an individual, however, he does not have the same protection. If he sets out on his own and follows his own path, apart from the Torah and Bnei Yisrael, he loses this protection. He has no promise that he will be saved. There is no guarantee of consolation.
As we go through the month of Elul, we are all focused on improving ourselves and correcting our course for the upcoming year. The Torah reading was set up so that Parshas Ki Savo is always read during this time of year. Perhaps this is the lesson Chazal wanted to teach us when they did so. If we stand together as a people, and look to improve as a collective, as a community, as the children of Hashem, then we maintain the guarantee of Parshas Bechukosai that Hashem will never leave us. And no matter how poorly we may have acted over the previous year, Hashem guarantees us that He will stick around until we return to Him.
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