Jeff Marx, the rabbi in my The Bible as Literature class talked about blessings and curses in the Jewish religion. I believe blessings are how we express gratitude, appreciation, thankfulness. A blessing doesn’t require the granting of a wish or an answered prayer. My vocabulary doesn’t include curses. I associate curses with hateful behavior. Wishing hate on another person. And when you relate curses to religion, it’s the antithesis of spirituality. The rabbi explained that if you buy into the system of blessings that curses must exist. He gave an analogy that when a mother is breast feeding, the child is blessed. At the point where the child no longer feeds off the milk of the mother, it is a form of curse. That deep emotional and physical attachment is broken. An extreme example. He went on to compare blessings and curses with heaven and hell. If heaven exists, there must be a hell. Sounds very new testament but I’m no religious scholar.
The whole discussion was triggered by passages in the Book of Judges from the old testament. This is the first time I’ve been in a bible study situation and find it enlightening. The misogyny and paternalistic writing is horrifying. The pointed questions from the senior students criticizes the inconsistencies. The mix of agnostics, atheists, Jews and non-Jews make for a compelling course.