To be blessed or to be cursed – those are the two choices the Israelites were given. In this week’s Torah portion Moses sets an outline on how to live a blessed life and how not to succumb into being cursed.
As the Israelites move into another land, they are to cleanse the land of remnants of the other peoples who have worshipped idols. In cleansing the land, were the Israelites to become interested in the false profits, idols, or worship other gods their punishment would be fatal.
As these other peoples had been known to sacrifice animals and children to their gods, the Israelites were no longer able to sacrifice animals on any alter other than in one place that God would determine to be appropriate. Slaughtering animals for sustenance elsewhere is permitted.
Moses recounted the laws of Kashrut for the Israelites in addition to forbidding shaving heads while mourning the dead.
The mitzvah of charity is showcased by decreeing that the Israelites will give a portion of their yearly crops to the poor. Additionally, all slaves are to be released after 7 years and given property (cattle, etc.) so they can establish a new life. If the freed slaves wish to stay, they are welcome to.
Concluding this week’s portion is the order to celebrate 3 festivals: Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot.