It is an unpleasant subject to write about and an unpleasant subject to contemplate. Worse yet, is the unpleasant reality.

The Torah portion we’ve just read tells us of blessings and curses. The curses bring on fear, shock, and negative awe. The text tries to steer us from the bad through fear, and to tempt us to good through the promise of reward.

The structure of this annual text is considered, by some, to be archaic; an outdated religious and philosophical stance.

Consider: do we live in a world in which groups which act well are rewarded? Do individuals acting well seem to be rewarded? (If a ‘good’ farmer lives among ‘evil’ farmers, will the heavens open up and drop rain only on his farm?). It’s not how the world operates.

Our world, of late, is not operating in so many of the ways we would like to see. Aside from invasive war which appears to be unprovoked, are attacks on children, which are by definition unprovoked.

What does our “archaic, antiquated out of date” Torah portion describe?

Hauntingly, in its curses, we find a society veering so to the negative that it devours its own children. A society which could devour its own children is considered so shocking, so jarring to the Jewish mind, that in Jewish tradition we whisper these verses in synagogue rather than chant them aloud for all to hear like the rest of the Torah.

I don’t need to touch anything political here, don’t have to touch the Left Wing or the Right Wing. We are beyond the realm of pro-regulation and anti-regulation. The only question is how we tolerate a social set-up in which children are unsafe to go to school.

The issue isn’t guns or not-guns, rules or not-rules, permits or not-permits. The issue is how do we maintain a societal structure in which the everyday ritual of going to school, coming home at lunchtime, and going back for afternoon classes is normal and uneventful and unexplosive.

3,300 years ago we wrote that it’s a curse – a curse! – to be a group that devours its children. Startlingly, sadly, not an antiquated 3,300 year old verse after all.

Rabbi Mark Biller