“רְאֵה אָנֹכִי נֹתֵן לִפְנֵיכֶם הַיּוֹם בְּרָכָה וּקְלָלָה” “Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse” (Devarim 11:26). So begins Parshas Re’eh as Moshe Rabbeinu further prepares Bnei Yisrael for their entrance into the Land of Israel. This pasuk is a continuation from last week’s parshah, Eikev, where we said that the main theme of the parshah is to teach Bnei Yisrael to keep the mitzvos first out of fear and eventually out of love. The blessing and curse mentioned in this pasuk are the results of either keeping or not keeping the Torah.
The commentaries on this pasuk ask, what is the purpose of the word “הַיּוֹם”, “today” in the pasuk? This word does not seem to add anything extra. We will mention just a few of the numerous answers to this question.
The Kli Yakar says that the word “הַיּוֹם” refers to the normal passage of time. All things change due to passage of time, clothes wear out, light bulbs burn out, food cooks, but none of these things happen as a direct result of time itself, but rather through the interference of Human activity. By themselves, clothes would not wear out, nor would food cook, only through Human usage do they evolve and eventually decompose. So too by the blessing and curse mentioned in this week’s parshah. It requires no change in nature by the hand of God for either ones of these to take effect, left to its’ own accord, the world would function like a well-oiled machine. The changes only come through Human interference. If we keep the Torah and mitzvos, then the world will continue to run as it should. But if not, the world will function differently, but either way, it is only a result of Human behavior. That’s what the word “הַיּוֹם” teaches us, by nature the world will run smoothly and everything will be a blessing, only through our mistakes will that status quo be changed.
The Ohr HaChaim gives several answers of which we will only bring one. He bases his answer on a gemarah in Avoda Zarah (5b) which says that a student cannot fully grasp or comprehend his rebbi’s teachings until he has studied by him for forty years. This day that Moshe laid out the blessing and curse was the fortieth anniversary of the Bnei Yisrael traveling in the desert, therefore they could now completely understand the teachings of Hashem, Moshe and the Torah and could fully comprehend the meaning of the blessing and the curse that Moshe was telling them (hence the word “הַיּוֹם” “today”).
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