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Sotah 7:5-6

Sotah 7:5

The blessings and curses were recited as follows: the Jews crossed the Jordan and approached the mountains of Grizim and Eival in Samaria near Shechem, which is next to Elon Moreh. Deuteronomy 11:30 says, “behold they are across the Jordan” and Genesis 12:6 says, “Avram passed through the land until Shechem, until Elon Moreh.” Just as that Elon Moreh is Shechem, so too this Elon Moreh is Shechem. Six Tribes climbed Mt. Grizim and six climbed Mt. Eival; the kohanim and Leviim stood between the mountains with the Ark. The kohanim surrounded the Ark and the Leviim surrounded the kohanim, while the Jews were on either side, as per Joshua 8:33, “All Israel, their elders, officers and judges stood on either side of the Ark.” The Leviim faced Mt. Grizim and started the blessings with “Blessed be the one who doesn’t make a graven or molten image” and everyone responded “amen.” The Leviim turned and faced Mt. Eival and started the curses with “Cursed be the one who makes a graven or molten image” and everyone responded “amen.” They continued in this manner until they completed all the blessings and curses. When they finished, they brought the twelve stones from the Jordan and plastered them, writing the words of the Torah on them in 70 languages as per Deuteronomy 27:8, that they should be written “very clearly” (i.e., easily understood). They took the stones and spent the night in that place.

Sotah 7:6

The priestly blessing was performed as follows: outside the Temple it was recited as three separate blessings, while in the Temple it was recited as one blessing. In the Temple, God’s Name was pronounced as it is written (YHVH) but elsewhere a substitute Name was used (Adon-ai). Outside the Temple, the kohanim raised their hands to shoulder height but in the Temple they raised them over their heads, except for the Kohein Gadol, who did not raise his hands above the tzitz (the gold plate on his forehead). Rabbi Yehuda says that the Kohein Gadol also raised his hands above the tzitz, as per Leviticus 9:22, “Aaron raised his hands towards the people and blessed them.”

Author: Rabbi Jack Abramowitz