Oath on Becoming Bat Mitzvah


  • Teshuva
  • Texts Referenced

Oath on Becoming Bat Mitzvah originally appeared on Shayla.

Adar 5780 | March 2020

She'ela (Question)

Dear Rabbanit
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?

Teshuva (Answer) from Rabbanit Surale Rosen

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.

Rabbanit Surale Rosen is a graduate of Hilkhata, Matan's Advanced Halakhic Institute and is a certified Meshivat Halakha. She is the Director of Shayla. In addition she is a certified To'enet Rabbanit and a graduate of Matan’s Advanced Talmud Institute. Surale has taught Midrash, Talmud and Halakha and Daf Yomi in a wide array of shuls and communities, including the Matan Beit Midrash. Surale is a graduate of Bar Ilan University and holds degrees in English Literature and Talmud. This past year she wrote the weekly Parashat HaShavua column for Chumash Shemot in the leading religious Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon and periodically writes Divrei Torah for weekly Torah publications.

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Texts Referenced

כיצד אמר שבועה שאתן לפלוני ושלא אתן: מאי אתן אילימא צדקה לעני מושבע ועומד מהר סיני הוא שנאמר (דברים טו, י) נתון תתן לו

§ The mishna teaches: How so? Examples are if one said: On my oath I will give so-and-so some item, or: On my oath I will not give it to him. What is the case of an oath in which he says: I will give? If we say that he takes an oath that he will give charity to a poor person, that is not an oath that takes effect, since he is under oath from Mount Sinai to give charity, as it is stated with regard to a poor person: “You shall give him” (Deuteronomy 15:10).
אָר֗וּר אֲשֶׁ֧ר לֹא־יָקִ֛ים אֶת־דִּבְרֵ֥י הַתּוֹרָֽה־הַזֹּ֖את לַעֲשׂ֣וֹת אוֹתָ֑ם וְאָמַ֥ר כׇּל־הָעָ֖ם אָמֵֽן׃ {פ}
Cursed be he who will not uphold the terms of this Teaching and observe them.—And all the people shall say, Amen.

פירוש המשנה לרמב"ם מסכת חולין פרק ז משנה ו
ושים לבך לכלל הגדול הזה המובא במשנה זו והוא אמרם מסיני נאסר, והוא, שאתה צריך לדעת שכל מה שאנו נזהרים ממנו או עושים אותו היום אין אנו עושים זאת אלא מפני צווי ה' על ידי משה, לא מפני שה' צוה בכך לנביאים שקדמוהו, דוגמא לכך, אין אנו אוכלים אבר מן החי לא מפני שה' אסר על בני נח אבר מן החי, אלא מפני שמשה אסר עלינו אבר מן החי במה שנצטווה בסיני שישאר אבר מן החי אסור. וכן אין אנו מלים בגלל שאברהם מל את עצמו ואנשי ביתו, אלא מפני שה' צונו על ידי משה להמול כמו שמל אברהם עליו השלום, וכן גיד הנשה אין אנו נמשכים בו אחרי אסור יעקב אבינו אלא צווי משה רבינו, הלא תראה אמרם שש מאות ושלש עשרה מצות נאמרו לו למשה בסיני, וכל אלה מכלל המצות.