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Ki Tavo. Am I a Hypocrite?

Please discuss:

  • What do you think of hypocrisy? Yes... hypocrisy has a negative connotation, but is it legitimate to have different ethical or religious standards at work and at home, in a communal setting and in private?

  • Why do many people find hypocrisy particularly offensive? Why is a “double-standard” perceived as dishonest?

  • One might say that we ALL have a double-standard; many of us act in a slightly different manner when we are away from the gaze of others. Is this reasonable or unreasonable?

Our parsha instructs Israel to convene a national gathering, a covenantal ceremony, at the mountains of Eval and Gerizim. There, twelve pronouncements - twelve “curses” – are invoked against those that break God's law: from idolatry to incest, bribery to assault, parental affront to misleading the blind. Are these twelve sins of particularly severity? Why are these crimes singled out?

Looking at the list (Deut 27:15-26), one specific word jumps out. It is the word, “ba-seter” meaning “in private” or “in secret”. Twice this phrase comes up:

"Cursed be anyone who makes a sculptured or molten image, abhorred by God … and sets it up in secret…. Cursed be he who strikes down a fellow man in secret…" (v.15,24)

These are people who do things in private, and then pass themselves off as upstanding citizens in public.