In the middle of Parshas Ki Savo (Devarim 27:12-26), the Torah details the procedure wherein when Bnai Yisrael enter Eretz Yisrael, they say a parallel series of blessings and curses when standing between Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Eval.

In the Torah, it lists only the curses that were said (i.e. "Cursed be anyone who makes a sculptured or molten image", etc.). Rashi (quoting the Gemara in Sotah 32a) says that while it's not written explicitly, each curse was preceded by the parallel blessing (i.e. “Blessed be the man that does not make any graven or molten image etc.”).

Does anyone discuss why only the curses were written in the Torah and not the Blessings?

  • Follow-up to this question, which maybe deserves a question of its own: Why were the stones with the Torah written on them, set up specifically on Har Eival, דברים כז(ד) וְהָיָה בְּעָבְרְכֶם אֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּן תָּקִימוּ אֶת־הָאֲבָנִים הָאֵלֶּה אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם הַיּוֹם בְּהַר עֵיבָל וְשַׂדְתָּ אוֹתָם בַּשִּׂיד
    – MichoelR
    Sep 5, 2021 at 1:47

1 Answer 1


The Maharal asks this question (Gur Aryeh on Rashi on 27:12):

ופתחו בברכה וכו'. [...] ואם תאמר, למה כתב קללה בקרא, אדרבה, הוי למכתב הברכה בקרא. ויראה לומר שהעיקר הוא הקללה, שהיו צריכים לקבל התורה באלה (רש"י פסוק כו), ולפיכך כתב הקללה בקרא:

If you will say, “Why are the curses written in the Passuk? On the contrary - the blessings should be written!” It seems possible to say that the main part is the curses, since they needed to accept the Torah through a curse-oath (cf. Rashi to v. 26, where he makes this point); therefore the passuk is written with the curses.

He says this answer and more in his commentary to Rashi on 11:29:

ופתחו בברכה. [...] וקשיא, למה נכתבו הקללות בפרשת כי תבא (להלן כז, טו-כו), ולא נכתבו הברכות. ונראה שעיקר המצוה היו הקללות, כדי שיהיו ישראל מקבלים את התורה באלה ובשבועה (רש"י להלן כז, כו), אלא שפותחין לעולם בזכות תחלה (ר' סנהדרין לג. ), הקדים הכתוב הברכה. ולעולם עיקר המצוה הקללות, כדי שיקבלו התורה. ועוד, אם כתב בפירוש הברכות, הייתי אומר הברכות ניתנו בפירוש, ולא הקללות, והא דכתיב "ואת הקללה על הר עיבל", היינו שמכלל ברכה אתה שומע קללה, דמכלל הן אתה שומע לאו (ספרי פסוק יח). והשתא שכתב הקללות בפירוש, על כרחך גם הברכות בפירוש נאמרו, דעדיפי ברכה מקללה, שהרי היה פותחו בברכה, דכתיב "ברכה וקללה":

Because of this piece’s length, I will try to summarize it, rather than try to translate it.

He starts off with the same answer he gives in Ki Savo, that since the Torah is to be accepted through a curse-oath, the curses are the main part. He adds that the blessings, in practice, were said first, because, similar to capital case proceedings (Sanhedrin 33a), we always start off with saying one’s merits.

His second answer is a little more technical. If the passuk had said the blessings, I would not have understood that the curses were actually said - when it says “and the curses on Har Eival,” I would have thought it means that they are understood from the blessings (in line with the Sifri to 11:18, “from the positive I understand the negative”). Now that the curses are said explicitly, though, I understand that the blessings were certainly said explicitly, since the passuk says “the blessing and the curse” - placing the blessing first.

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