Vort from the Rav: Nitzavim

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(Excerpt from Chumash Mesoras Harav)

Devarim 29:13

כִּי אֶת אֲשֶׁר יֶשְׁנוֹ פֹּה עִמָּנוּ עֹמֵד הַיּוֹם…וְאֵת אֲשֶׁר אֵינֶנּוּ פֹּה עִמָּנוּ הַיּוֹם  – but with those standing here with us today…and [also] with those who are not here with us, this day.

Grandfathers and grandchildren, though members of different generations, are part of one fraternity—the mesorah community. Jews of the past, pres­ent, and future are united in their commitment to the divine teachings of the Torah and to the historical destiny of the Jew. One collegial fraternity exists of Moses, Rabbi Akiba, Maimonides, the Gaon of Vilna, the Baal Shem Tov, and others, joining hands with grandfathers, parents, and children of all generations.

As the child is born, he is absorbed into the mesorah com­munity. He will hopefully speak our language, study our texts, share our solemnities, dream our dreams, and adopt our ideals. Rashi will be his lifelong companion in Torah study, as he is ours. In this fraternity of the committed, there need not be any generation gap, any splintering of ranks, but rather a sharing of ideas and ideals which span and unite countless generations. Each newborn child enters an extended historical family where he will be reared by the wisdom and teachings of great Torah personalities, all interested in his spiritual devel­opment.

When it is achieved, a mesorah relationship between grand­father and grandchild contains an emotional intensity and intel­lectual closeness that in some ways transcends the parent-child relationship. Psychologically, one would not expect a deep identification between two individuals whose great disparity of years could easily result in alienation. Yet grandparents, more so than parents, are sensitive to the transiency of time and to the pressing need to assure the perpetuation of one’s lifelong principles. The child is far more than a biological extension; he embodies one’s hopes for spiritual continuity. If a bond between old and young is achieved among Torah Jews, it is due to this singular awareness of a mesorah community in which past and present generations are contem­poraries. Distance in time is bridged, and divergence in outward style is rendered irrelevant. This is in sharp contrast to the secular scene, where generations too often confront each other as cultural antagonists. (Reflections, Vol. 2, pp. 14-16)

About Arnold Lustiger

Dr. Arnold Lustiger is a research scientist and has edited multiple volumes of the Rav's Torah, including the recently published Chumash Mesoras HaRav.

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