It is a widespread minhag (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 78:4, though by no means do all communities do this) that during the Tochachah of Bechukosai (Vayikra 26) and Ki Savo (Devarim 28), the reader reads this section quietly and quickly.

Nevertheless, the Midrash (Koheles Rabbah 8:7 in Warsaw numbering) notes that some Amoraim disapproved of this practice (translation follows Eitz Yosef and Matnos Kehunah):

רבי לוי בן פנטי קרא את ארוריא קדם רבי הונא וגמגם בהון אמר ליה אשמע קליך דלית אינון קללות תוכחות אינון

R’ Levi ben Panti read the curses before R’ Huna, and he mumbled them. He said to him: Let me head your voice, for they are not curses; they are rebukes.

R’ Huna clearly held that we should not mumble during the Tochachah (as an inspiration to do Teshuvah - Yefeh Anaf). Granted that we don’t necessarily pasken a Midrash, but what is wrong with his logic that many have the minhag not to follow it?

It is unclear to me whether R’ Levi accepted R’ Huna’s opinion. If anyone can prove to me that R’ Levi continued this practice in spite of R’ Huna’s psak, perhaps we could argue that we follow R’ Levi.

In respect to the line opening by saying he was reading the “curses” - while that is Artscroll’s translation, Eitz Yosef translates it as “rebuke.”

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    He said אשמע קליך that we should hear the voice, which is not clearly held that we should raise our voices. Just that it should be audible. Furthermore, Rabbi Levi mumbled it, which is not the same thing as reading it clearly and audibly, if quietly. || Maybe they are instead following R. Levi who evidently disagreed with him. || but what is wrong with his logic What logic? They are curses! What does ארור mean? – mevaqesh Oct 15 '17 at 1:20
  • @mevaqesh You are correct on the first point - I misspoke. On the second point - that’s where the Midrash ends, so it’s unclear whether R’ Levi accepted R’ Huna’s ruling. On the third point - I assumed ארור was used in line with R’ Levi’s intention of reading it quietly, while R’ Huna disagreed as to the intention of the pesukim. – DonielF Oct 15 '17 at 1:22
  • How is ארור not a curse? (ALso what does he think that tokhekha means) Quite frankly I have no idea what R. Huna is talking about. Unless we know what he is talking about, it seems reasonable to not reckon with his opinion. – mevaqesh Oct 15 '17 at 1:30
  • @mevaqesh Generally speaking, tokhakha is understood to be an attempt at correcting someone from doing an improper behavior (i.e. prevention), as opposed to an after the fact condemnation. – Loewian Oct 15 '17 at 2:42
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    @mevaqesh Furthermore, it's a pretty well-established practice of traditional Jewry to reckon with its sages' opinions even when we don't understand fully yet their reasoning. – Loewian Oct 15 '17 at 2:44

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