"''See this day I set before you blessing and curse:
blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your G-d that I enjoin upon you this day; and curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your G-d but turn away from the path that I enjoin upon you this day and follow other gods, whom you have not experienced.
When the Lord your G-d brings you into the land that you are about to enter and possess, you shall pronounce the blessing at Mount Gerizim and the curse at Mount Ebal....
For you are about to cross the Jordan to enter and possess the land that the Lord your G-d is assigning to you. When you have occupied it and are settled in it, take care to observe all the laws and rules that I have set before you this day.'" With these powerful, haunting words, Moses announces to the gathered Israelites that they control the outcome of of their collective future in The Promised Land. They can choose blessings, not curses, if they G-d's path. Simply put, says Moses: Don't screw it up.
This public exhortation in a specific location--recreated by Shabbat Mom each Labor Day weekend out of secular Bridgehampton sand--would have occurred near modern-day Nablus.
Several years ago, Shabbat mom and her family were blessed to visit this normally deserted area with the archaeologist Adam Zertal of blessed memory. In the 1980s, Zertal excavated what he was convinced were the remnants of the first altar that the Israelites (led then by Joshua) built on nearby Mt. Erbal as soon as they crossed the Jordan.
Shabbat Mom may not be a Biblical archaeologist, but she can testify that this spot, in between two large mountains, contains a massive structure that fits the Biblical description of an altar upon which the Israelites would have brought Him their offerings. (It is here that Zertal excavated and documented finds including Egyptian scarabs and thousands of small bones, all from kosher animals.) Shabbat Mom felt an almost electric charge in the air as she and her family approached, and covered her head with a scarf as if she were visiting the Kotel. It's impossible to explain, but Shabbat Mom knew, instinctively, that something important had happened here. It is a moment she thinks about often and will never forget.