Happily Ever After by Zack Fagan

(2006/5766) Both Parshat Ki Tavo and Parshat Bechukotai
include passages of Tochachah (rebuke).  However, there is
a marked difference between the two.  In Bechukotai,
Hashem concludes His rebuke with words of hope:
“VeZacharti Et Beriti Yaakov, VeAf Et Beriti Yitzchak, VeAf Et
Beriti Avraham Ezkor, VeHaaretz Ezkor,” “Then I will
remember My covenant with Jacob, and also My covenant
with Isaac, and also My covenant with Abraham, and I will
remember the land.”
But in the Tochachah in Devarim, there is no
hopeful ending.  Hashem merely concludes: “VeHitmakartem
Sham LeOyevecha LaAvadim VeLiShfachot VeEin Koneh,”

“You will sell yourselves there to your enemies as
bondsmen and bondswomen, and no one will buy you.” 
Why are there no verses of hope at the end?
According to Ramban, the Tochachah in
Vayikra refers to the destruction of Bayit Rishon and
Galut Bavel.  That exile was decreed by God to last for a
specific number of years (seventy).  Therefore, that
Tochachah ends with a verse of hope.  But the
Tochachah in Devarim refers to the destruction of Bayit
Sheni, and the Galut which is still going on.  As there is no
definite date given for its conclusion, there are no verses of
hope at the end.
Rav Soloveitchik suggests that there is in fact a
hopeful ending, found in the next Parsha, Nitzavim.  The
Pasuk there states, “It shall come to pass when all these
things have come upon you – the blessing and the curse
which I have set before you – that you shall think among all
the nations where the Lord your God has driven you, and
you shall return to the Lord your God and listen to His
voice…”  In other words, this exile ends when the Jews do
Teshuvah, and therefore there is no specific number of
years given.  The length of the Galut depends on our
actions.  According to the Rav, our Teshuvah, however
long it takes, will turn the curses turn into blessings.
The question is where to start.  What kind of
Teshuvah would best turn the Tochachah’s curses into
blessings?  The Gemara in Masechet Yoma says that
the destruction of Bayit Sheni and our present Galut
were caused by “Sinat Chinam,” baseless hatred.  If
treating people badly brought the curses upon us, what
might be the effect of treating people right?
At the beginning of the Parsha, before the
Tochachah, the Torah says that after bringing Maaser
Ani and announcing that he has followed God’s
commands, including gifts to the poor, a Jewish farmer
would say, “Hashkifah MiMe’on Kodshecha, Min
HaShamayim, UVareich Et Amecha Et Yisrael,” “Gaze
down from your holy abode, the heavens, and bless your
people Israel.”  The word “Hashkifah” – gaze down – is
usually used in the Torah when Hashem gazes down in
anger and judgment, such as when He was about to
destroy Sodom and Amorah.  Midrash Tanchuma
comments that this case is an exception.  The word
“Hashkifah” is used because giving gifts to the poor
changes Hashem’s anger into mercy.  The Kli Yakar
explains that when people show compassion and
conquer the natural tendency to be cruel, Hashem
changes His anger into compassion for us.  Little acts of
kindness can have major effects.
This same Parsha that presents the Tochachah
also includes a suggestion for Teshuvah that can turn
curses to blessings.  Our compassion invites God’s
compassion.  Treating others with kindness and mercy
may help to write a hopeful end to the long Tochachah.

Necessity of the Whole by Nachi Friedman

“Live It” by Jesse Dunietz