Oath on becoming Bat Mitzvah
Rabbanit Surale Rosen
My daughter is about to celebrate her Bat Mitzvah. She asked whether she needs to take an oath on keeping Mitzvot as part of becoming responsible for her religious life?
What a beautiful question. The wish to dedicate oneself to a life of Torah should be cherished and encouraged.
The Gemara (Shevuot 25a) discusses a case where a Jew takes an oath that he will give charity to a poor person. The Gemara clarifies that this is not an oath that takes effect, since he is under oath from Mount Sinai to keep all the Mitzvot, charity included. The vow that precedes all vows is intact since Matan Torah.
In Deuteronomy (27:26) the Torah brings an oath the Bnei Yisrael were commanded to take on keeping the Torah, just after entering the land: “Cursed be he who does not uphold the words of this Torah, to fulfill them. And all the people shall say ‘Amen’!” Rashi comments on this verse: “here in this curse, Moshe included the entire Torah, and they accepted it upon themselves with a curse and an oath”.
It seems that the purpose of the oath that comes later after they enter the land, is to strengthen the previous commitment to a generation that wasn’t necessarily present in Matan Torah, not to renew it.
Similarly, the Rambam holds that all Mitzvot that were given in Matan Torah bind us from that moment on (commentary on the Mishna, Chulin ch.7) and this commitment is passed from generation to generation without the necessity of renewal.
On this wonderful occasion of entering with full responsibility the world of Torah and Mitzvot, we can highlight the importance of how we keep the Torah, of setting positive and vibrant tones to our worship of Hashem. Indeed we stand under an ancient oath from Mount Sinai but your daughter’s individual path lies ahead fresh.