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For example: "Cursed be he who perverts the judgment of the stranger, the orphan, or the widow. And all the people shall say, Amen!"

Do we have any idea what the curse consists of?

There are many in Parsha Ki Sovo, is there any difference in the different curses?

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    I think you need to view this as the opposite of "blessed". It doesn't necessarily involve a specific punishment or penalty. It may just mean that God and other people should not view this person favorably. – DanF Sep 20 at 2:49
  • like Dan says. Exactly. People took being blessed or cursed a lot more seriously after He spoke to them en masse, and killed a bunch of them whenever they willfully disobeyed. – Gary Sep 21 at 2:11
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The word ariri in Hebrew means solitary, left alone, without posterity.

The gemara in Shevuot 36a explains that arur (cursed) has an element of ostracism (being out of the community), one of a curse and one of oath. So the curse itself is to be outside of the community and without descendants.

But interestingly, the commentators on the verses in Ki Tavo speak of less of the curse itself and more of the oath not to perform these actions. R Adin Steinsaltz writes (based on Rashbam) those curses apply to those transgressions which are performed in secret. Since the transgressors assume that their deeds will not be discovered, the people must publicly take an oath not to perform these actions (this is the part where the people say "And all the people shall say, Amen!").

For instance, the focus of the first curse is not the prohibition against crafting a molten image in itself, but the secretive worship of idolatry. If any Jew openly worships idols, the court is obligated to eliminate him from among the people. However, if one conceals his idolatrous worship, no one is aware of his deeds, and therefore, the public oath is necessary.

He then goes to explain each individual curse separately, see the original for more and references.

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    @msh210 I'm inferring from this answer some concept that G-d will take care of the punishment and treatment that the people cannot. I.e., the "curse" in a sense is mentioned by, "Moses wanted the people to declare that they despised such deeds". Perhaps, in a sense, being despised and shunned by society is its own "curse". – DanF Sep 20 at 13:58
  • "To be cursed is simply a status" - agreed. Refer as an example beginning of Lech Lecha - "Those that bless you shall be blessed, and those that curse you (perhaps the first one is an action of some type) will be cursed (the 2nd one being a status, perhaps.) We don't see any penalty mentioned. You or I should see commentaries on that. I have a hunch someone explains what the "curse" is about. – DanF Sep 20 at 14:19
  • Where did you see that? ariri is spelled with an ayin. – DanF Sep 23 at 14:55
  • @DanF for some reason I missed answering your comment. Yes I checked this with R Binyamin Tabady who told me there are multiple words starting with alef/ayin which have commonalities. He gave them example of ochel (eat)/ikul (digest). Shana tova. – mbloch Oct 1 at 16:47
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Because it's a commandment of God, God is compassionate and so we should be as well, He is just, so we should be just too. If we don't carry out these mitzvot, we are assured of severe judgment that comes in a curse form. The curse form is basically where the Shefa is cut off.

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    this is a very interesting idea and intuitively "feels" right to a large degree. Do you have a textual source for it? – Josh K Sep 20 at 7:54
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    Interesting explanation. Sources will get you up-votes – larry909 Sep 22 at 3:44

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