l'ilui nishmat R' Avraham ben Yona Ya'akov
“The blessing, that you will listen to the commandments of G-d” (11:27)
In the following verse regarding the curses it states “and you veer from the path that I command you this day, to go after other gods”. The contrast is clear and obvious. With the blessing the verse says “listen”, which implies merely hearing and accepting to keep the commandments even without any actual action to do so. Whereas in the curses the verse makes them contingent on “veering from the path”, only if a person actually goes and does something, but as long as they are only thinking about it, even though in their mind they have already veered, they won’t receive the curses.
In the Torah Temima we wrote that this can be explained based on the Talmud (Kidushin 40b), that G-d combines good thoughts to the actions (and gives reward already from the moment of thought), but with bad deeds He only considers it from when the deed is actually done. Therefore regarding the blessing it states “you will listen”, as soon as you have listened you already receive the reward as if you have already done the action, whereas with the curses it is only once you have actually veered from the path, to do actions, and the thought is not counted.
That was how we explained in the Torah Temima. However now I regret having written that, because the Talmud there explains that with the sin of idolatry even thought is included with the action. Here in the verse it states “and you veer from the path that I command you this day, to go after other gods”, which is idolatry. Therefore we have to explain based on the Talmud in Shabbat 105b which says that a person doesn’t commit the sin of idolatry with the first tempting of the yetzer hara. Rather it works gradually, from the small sin to the bigger sin. The first sins are not sins of idolatry, and therefore the thought and intent for them is not included in the punishment.
This is implicit in the verse: “you will veer from the path that I command you this day” – from ordinary mitzvot, and this will lead to “to go after other gods”. This is the meaning of the Talmud, initially the yetzer hara says to a person ‘do this small sin’. The next day it says ‘do this slightly worse sin’ until finally it leads a person to idolatry.