Who Guarantees that Jews Will Receive and Keep the Torah?

By Reb Daniel Lev


The women and children, of course! It’s because of them that that we received and continue to practice the Torah. We learn this from Millennia-old Rabbinic Midrashim. A Midrash is a special commentary on the Torah that uses metaphor and story to convey its wisdom. The following stories come from my adaptation of Midrash Tanchuma and Pirkei de-Rabi Eliezer, respectively:

from Midrash Tanchuma – When the Holy Blessed One was about to give the Torah to Israel, He held it back and asked the Elder Wisemen, “Who will guarantee that you will keep My Torah and regularly engage in its wise practices?” The Elders talked it over and then replied, Avoteinu orvim otanu, our ancestors will be our guarantors.” ‘Big G’ said, “Nope!” So the old guys conferred with each other again and then said, Nevi-einu arevin, our prophets will be our guarantors.” And Hashem said “Even your ancestors and prophets needed their own guarantors!” The men were stumped! “Now what?” they despaired. Eventually, one of them lead his fellows to a gathering of the Elder Wisewomen, who had been watching this entire interchange. This time, ALL the Elders, men and women, talked it over and presented HaShem with this proposal: Baneinu orvom otanu, our children will be our guarantors.” Hashem replied, “Indeed these are the best guarantors. For their sake I will give you the Torah.”

Then HaShem gathered all the children at the bottom of Mt Sinai. He also invited the pregnant mothers and turned their bellies into glass so the child within could be part of this assembly. Then HaShem asked the children, “Will you make sure that your parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, and all the grownups will keep my Torah and that they teach you what it’s all about?” The children as one voice yelled “Yes!” – and the babies in the bellies added, “Bluh-Bluh-Bluh!” At that moment, the Torah was given to the community.

from Pirkei de-Rabi Eliezer– On the eve of Shabbat, the Israelites stood at Mount Sinai, with the men and the women standing apart. The Holy One said to Moses, “Go, speak to the daughters of Israel and ask them whether they wish to receive the Torah.” Why were the women asked first? Because the way of men is to follow the opinions of women, as it says in Exodus 19:3: “Thus shall you say to the House of Jacob…” – these are the women – “…and declare to the Children of Israel” – these are the men. After the women agreed to receive the Torah, the men joined them and they all replied as with one mouth, “All that HaShem has spoken we will do and obey” (Exodus 24:7).

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