A Biblical curse—and Arab degradation

Tuvia Brodie,

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צילום: ערוץ 7
Tuvia Brodie
Tuvia Brodie has a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh under the name Philip Brodie. He has worked for the University of Pittsburgh, Chatham College and American Express. He and his wife made aliyah in 2010. All of his children have followed. He believes in Israel's right to exist. He believes that the words of Tanach (the Jewish Bible) are meant for us. His blog address is http://tuviainil.blogspot.com He usually publishes 3-4 times a week on his blog and 1-3 times at Arutz Sheva. Please check the blog regularly for new posts.


The Torah portion we will read this Shabbat (October 24, 2015) is called, Lech Lecha (Breisheet 12:1-17:27). It introduces to us our first Patriarch, Avram, the man destined to become Avraham.

In this Torah portion, we read the famous Promise from HaShem: I will bless those who bless you and curse him who curses you (ibid, 12:3, JPS translation).  

In many ways, Biblical Hebrew is more sensitive than English. For example, in an English text, the word, ‘curse’ in this posuk (sentence) is repeated: HaShem says, “he who curses you I will curse” (Ramban, Mesorah Publications, 2007, ArtScroll translation, Breisheet 12:3). But in the Hebrew text, two different words are used. The ‘curse’ that others place upon Israel is the word, “m’kalellchah’—and the curse that HaShem will use is ‘ah-or’ (pardon my transliteration).

Consider the difference between ‘m’kahlellchah’ and ‘ah-or’. That difference tells us a lot about the Arab Muslims who incite to kill Jews today—and the self-imposed degradation that so frustrates them.

The Jewish commentary known at the Klei Yakar (Rabbi Shlomo Ephraim ben Aaron Luntschitz (1550-1619), explains the meaning of these two words. He begins by translating the curse against Israel, called ‘M’kalellchah’. This word, he says, contains a meaning that combines concepts of blasphemy, scorn and contempt (Kli Yakar, Breisheet, volume 1, Menucha publications, Brooklyn, NY, 2013, p 170; translation by Elihu Levine).  

‘Blasphemy’ contains these elements: showing a heightened disrespect to G-d and to that which is Holy, and acts which insult and/or disrespect G-d.

‘Scorn’ contains several elements: harsh criticism that shows a lack of respect, rejection, derision, refusal to acknowledge, treating someone as despicable.

‘Contempt’ contains these elements: a wilful, open disrespect of law, treating someone (or the law) as if they (or it) is not worthy of any respect whatsoever.

Arab Muslims blaspheme against the G-d of Israel. They don’t just disrespect Jewish Holy sites. They spit at them. They firebomb them. They tear them down when they can.

Arab Muslims scorn all things Jewish. They call Jews apes and pigs (“Case Study: Portraying Jews as Apes and Pigs, pmw, under heading, ‘Demonization of Jews/Israel’). They deny any Jewish connection to the land of Israel. They mock their Jewish victims (“Abbas’ advisor mocks terror victims following shooting murder and injuring of Israeli soldiers”, Palestinian Media Watch [pmw], October 21, 2015). 

Arab Muslims have such contempt for law they have declared that killing Jews is legal (“Fatah officials: Killing ‘settlers’ is legal and ‘national duty’”, pmw, October 8, 2015). Instead of condemning the murder of Jews, they glorify it (“PLO official: Killing of Israeli parents of 4 children was ‘national duty’, pmw, October 6-8, 2015). They legitimize violence (“Fatah official: Law against rock throwing is unjust”, pmw, September 22-25, 2015).  Their clergy says Jews are not worthy to live (“Al-Aqsa preacher: Jews worship the Devil, will be exterminated by Muslims”, pmw, September 18, 2015).

Arab Muslims curse Jews with blasphemy, scorn and contempt. But as our Torah says, those who curse Jews with ‘m’kalellchah’ are themselves cursed with ‘ah-or’.

The Klei Yakar translates ‘ah-or’ as ‘a grievous curse’. This type of curse, he explains, contains elements best described as ‘degradation’ (ibid).

‘Degradation’ suggests a process that leads to destruction. It suggests a condition of damage and ruin.

Look at Gaza. In 2005, Israel voluntarily made Gaza Juden-frei (Jew-free). With a single—and singular—Jewish decision, Gazans had the opportunity to do anything they wanted.

The Jews were gone. Some said, Gaza would now become the Singapore of the Middle East.

That didn’t happen. These Arabs who so viciously cursed Jews chose Hamas. They didn’t get economic development. They got ruin.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) is only slightly better. The people of the PA chose Abbas. They didn’t get economic cooperation with Israel. They got incitement to kill Jews—along with political oppression, corruption and economic stagnation.

Israel is not the cause of this state of degradation. This degradation is Arab-made.

Because Arabs choose curses over blessings, they reject cooperation with Israel. That rejection is suicidal.

The physical environment of the Middle East is harsh. Israel has shown it has the know-how to thrive in such a harsh place. To reject that know-how is the fast-track to ruin.

Arabs have brought this ruin upon themselves. They’re schizophrenic: Arabs in Gaza and the PA say they want more economic cooperation with Israel (“Most Palestinians want economic cooperation with Israel, poll shows”, blog camera. org, August 15, 2015). But they also say they want to see Israel destroyed (ibid).

For these Arabs, economic cooperation with Israel would be good. But destroying Israel is better (ibid). Therefore, they choose politicians and clergy who promote the latter over the former.

Because of those leaders, they curse the Jews. They end up cursed.

Our Tanach is correct. Don’t curse what G-d loves. You won’t win.