Torah Portion: Mishpatim
Do not curse E-lokim (Shemos 22:27).
It is a negative commandment to not “bless” the Name of Hashem. [The Rabbis used the term to “bless” as a euphemism for “curse].
Among the roots of the commandment against “blessing” God is that by doing so the person depletes himself of all good and the most exalted aspect of his soul is twisted for evil. By using the very thing that Hashem bestowed upon man to set him apart from all animals—his power of speech—in this manner he becomes animal-like. He used the unique human faculty of speech to become no greater than a loathsome lizard! The Torah therefore warns us about this, for God, Who is good, wishes only our benefit. So, any type of speech that causes the withholding of that good from coming from Him is against the will of God, blessed is He.
The laws of the commandment include: One becomes culpable for this only if he used the explicit Divine Name, which is spelled with the letters yud, heh, vav, heh; and according to some commentators if he used the Name that begins with aleph, dalet, nun. When the witnesses [to this sin] are examined, they do not utter the actual word used by the blasphemer but a substitute term. Once the questioning is concluded, and it necessary to clearly hear their testimony in order to issue the verdict, all [bystanders] are removed from the court and the judges question the eldest of the witnesses, and they say to him, “Say with your mouth [exactly] what you heard.” [That witness] repeats the words of the blasphemer explicitly. The judges rise to their feet and rend their garments. The second witness then says, “I, like him, heard the same.”
One by one all of the witnesses and the judges lean their hands on the head of the blasphemer, and they say to him: “Your blood is upon your own head, for you caused this for yourself.” No other sinners who are put to death by the court are leaned on by the witnesses and the judges except for the blasphemer alone, as it is written: all those who heard shall lean their hands upon his head (Vayikra 24:14).
This prohibition applies in all places and at all times. One who transgressed this and “blessed” the Divine Name in the manner explained above, is stoned to death by an ordained beis din (court) in the Land of Yisrael. Nowadays, when we do not have ordained judges, [and so no one is authorized to try capital cases], all Jews shun the blasphemer and he his excommunicated.