Towards the end of Parshas Nitzavim, there are twenty Psukim within which the Torah refers to the Brachos and Klalos, which were just delivered on Har Grizim and Har Eival, in a multitude of different ways.  First, Hashem tells us that after all the Brachos and Klalos have befallen us and we are in Galus, we shall once again return to him and he will bring us back to the land of our fathers.  (Netzavim 30:1-5) Next, Hashem says that “today he has set before us the life and the good and death and evil.” (30:15).  Finally, Hashem says that he is bringing the heavens and earth as witnesses that he has indeed set before us “life and death and blessings and curse”. (30:19).  Why does the Torah alternate between blessings and curse, life and death and good and evil

As with many such instances of subtle word changes in the Torah, context is critical to our understanding.  At the beginning of the Perek, the Torah is generically referring back to the Brachos and Klalos which had just been given to Klal Yisroel on the two mountains.  Hence, they are simply referred to as the “Brachos and Klalos.” The second reference to “life and good and death and evil” come after Hashem tells us that the Mitzvos are “close to us” and “in our mouths and hearts”. (30:14) That we should not think that returning to Him is difficult, on the contrary the Torah is Lo Bashamayim, it is here, in our world, with us.  Hashem wants us to understand that the Brachos and Klallos are not mere consequences of certain actions.  Rather, that they are much more, they represent a life of good or in the alternative Challila, death and evil.  Hashem wants us to choose to have a life that is good.

Finally, Hashem tells us that he is calling the Heavens and Earth as witnesses – that he has placed before us “life and death” in the form of “Brachos and Klallos”, in order that we should choose life. (30:19).  Since the Heavens and Earth are to act as “witnesses”, it is necessary that they not only warn us to act in the ways prescribed by the Torah, but for the purpose of Eidus, they must also warn us of the potential punishment if we do not listen.  (Sanhedrin 40B) Accordingly, it is most necessary to tell us that the consequences are “life or death”

The Torah tells us that ultimately, we will do both and enjoy the Brachos and endure the Klallos.  Yet it also makes clear that afterward we will find the Torah in our hearts and return to Hashem.  Over the centuries of the current Galus, we have seen the Torah’s words come to fruition.  We have suffered the Klalos, most recently in World War II, and begun to see Hashem’s promise of allowing us to return to our land over the last 70 years.  The Torah makes it very clear what we must do so as to capitalize on this beginning.  As we approach the Yom Norayim, let us do our part to see that the Geula is brought in it’s entirety, by following in Hashem’s ways.  The Heavens and Earth are watching.  Let us heed their warnings and choose to have lives that are good.