The version of the tochacha (warnings / "curses") in parshat Ki Tavo are much longer (i.e. occupy almost double as many verses) as the ones in parshat Bechukotai.

I am assuming that nearly all the words in the book of Devarim were spoken by Moshe, rather than God. If so, is Moshe relaying punishments that God may have relayed to him, previously, but were not written or relayed the first time? If so, why were they left for the later version and not mentioned, earlier?

Or, is Moshe analyzing / deriving some of these punishments based on his own thinking or analysis?

1 Answer 1


The Kli Yakar addresses this question, as well as why here the curses are in the singular, whereas in Bechukosai they’re in the plural. After addressing why in Bechukosai they’re specifically 49, he writes:

וקודם הערבות נאמר ואם לא תשמעו בלשון רבים לומר דווקא שאם כולם סג יחדיו נאלחו אז הם ראוין לאותן מכות כוללות אבל הצדיק אשר בתוכם הוא את נפשו ימלט, אבל כאן אחר הערבות כל אחד יסבול עונו ועון חבירו על כן באו במספר צ"ח כפול כנגד עונו ועון חבירו, ונאמר והיה אם לא תשמע. בלשון יחיד והמכות כלליות לומר לך שאפילו יחיד החוטא מסבב קללה אל הכלל, כמ"ש (דברים כט יז–כא) פן יש בכם איש או אשה וכו', וכתיב וראו את מכות הארץ. ש"מ שרבים ישאו עון היחיד כמו שהיה במעשה של עכן (יהושע ז) לכך נאמר ואם לא תשמע. שאפילו יחיד שלא ישמע גורם מכות לרבים והם המכות הכלליות הנזכרים בפרשה.

Essentially he says that in between Bechukosai and Ki Savo, they accepted responsibility for each other; therefore, in Bechukosai, only if they sin as a community will they be punished, whereas in Ki Savo even if an individual sins, others will be punished on his account. Therefore the number of curses is doubled, to indicate that one is being punished for his own sins as well as his friend’s.

(This doesn’t fully answer your question, as it doesn’t address where these curses come from, but it does address why there are so many more.)

  • Thanks. Interesting idea to ponder. I may have to follow up with a question addressing why this communal responsibility is there and why there is communal penalty. Shanah Tovah.
    – DanF
    Commented Sep 20, 2019 at 19:43

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