Jewish National Fund

How To Cancel a Curse

Dear Cyber-Rav,

I found your site in a search on cursing, in Judaism. My husband states that in Judaism, only Hashem can curse, and that man cannot. 38 years ago, my husband's mother cursed my husband, our 6-month old first-born son, and me to hell (Gehenna...forever)... We were told by a frum (Yiddish for religiously observant) friend that we should go to see the Rebbe (the Lubavitcher rebbe, Menahem Mendel Schneersohn, who has since passed on) and have the curse removed. My husband refused for the next 28 years. And I am conflicted. I believe that this curse was a curse, and I have seen so much evil happen in the ensuing years. There is only so much coincidence, and I am not all that enamored in coincidence.

I would be very grateful to hear your opinion. I had been told that in the Torah, there is a prohibition, also, on cursing any family member. As I am 65, and have to make my own burial arrangements, as my husband has very different ideas on this, it will have great impact. Thank you so much.

Living with the Curse

The Cyber Rav Answers:

Dear Living,

Thank you so much for writing. I cannot even begin to imagine the anguish you have endured in living with this curse hanging over your head and your family's heads for so many years. Let's think about it and see if we can come up with a way of terminating it once and for all.

First of all, I want you to know that with all due respect to your mother-in-law, she committed a sin. She sinned because not even knowing the circumstances that might have generated such a strong reaction in her, there is utterly no justification for cursing a six month old child. Damning the innocent is a sin and God will hold her accountable.

Secondly, there is a concept of geHEna or hell in Judaism, but to the best of my knowledge, only God can consign people to geHEna. So not only did your mother-in-law sin in damning the innocent, she attempted to usurp that which belongs to God. That is a supreme act of arrogance. The psalmist in Psalm 94 calls on God to punish the arrogant. In Jewish tradition, we have little patience for the arrogant. Arrogance is almost always connected with poor self-esteem. And as the Torah teaches us, only when we love ourselves can we begin to love our neighbors adequately.

My third point has to do with you. Blessing and cursing are two way streets. Those who curse tend to pour out their negative energy on those who are willing to be cursed. Please do not take this as criticism, but part of being cursed is feeling that you have been cursed. I happen to be fond of quoting Dr. Robert Anthony who wrote: If you are constantly being mistreated, you're cooperating with the treatment. You may ask--how is it possible to not be cursed if someone curses me? And the answer is by refusing to accept the curse. We can reject the negative energy of our enemies. By the same token, we can accept the positive energy of those who would seek to bless us. And this leads me to my final point--

I would like you to be blessed. I would like you to seek out a synagogue this Rosh Hashanah where the Birkat Kohanim or the Priestly benediction is recited. The kohanim, in reciting this blessing, are only the physical vehicles by which God transfers His intangible blessings upon us. Find that synagogue, bring your family or whomever else wants to go, and be blessed on a very holy day by a very ancient ritual. I can assure you that God's blessings upon us are infinitely more powerful than your mother-in-law's curse. And write me back what you think, if you go, and if it works.

Now, I realize that Rosh Hashanah is a bit off (though for pulpit rabbis, it's all too close!). So, between now and then, let me try to give you a little blessing via the Internet.

Ribbono shel Olam, Master of the Universe--
Please envelop Living and her entire family with your
Ahavah Rabbah--Your Deep Love.
And please envelop Living and her entire family with your
Ahavat Olam--Your Eternal Love.
Give her the strength to always stand tall in spite of life's ups and downs.
Give her the courage to deflect the evil that sometimes surrounds us.
Give her the peace that her heart craves so that she may be a more faithful servant to You.
Protect her family and
Wherever she and her family goes, may You go with her.

The CyberRav


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