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Two of the curses in Ki Tavo are:

-You shall betroth a wife, and another man will rape her. [Deut. 28:30]

-The Lord will strike you with... hemorrhoids. [Deut. 28:27]

But the Talmud instructs us to read these lines differently than written:

Our Rabbis taught in a baraita: All [biblical] verses written in an indelicate manner must be read by substituting refined phrasing. [Examples:] -[Instead of reading] "You shall betroth a wife, and another man will rape her" [we read] "You shall betroth a wife, and another man will lie with her". [Deut. 28:30] -[Instead of reading] "The Lord will strike you with... hemorrhoids" [we read] "The Lord will strike you with... abscesses". [Deut. 28:27] [Megillah 25b]

Indeed, abscesses can occur anywhere in the body, but hemorrhoids only in the anus, so the first is more polite. So, in the synagogue, the Torah reader must read the amended versions.

What I don't understand is this: Doesn't the Torah DEFINE what is polite and what's not? Should we not assume that if the Torah uses some words, they cannot be considered offensive?

הֲפֹךְ בָּהּ וַהֲפֹךְ בָּהּ, דְּכֹלָּא בָהּ Turn it and turn it [the Torah], because everything is in it. [Avot 5:22]

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