(c) 2000 Dr Hendel; 1st appeared in Bais Medrash (c) Torah.Org

Date: Sun, 26 Dec 1999 21:05:21 -0500 (EST)
From: Russell Hendel <  rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu>
Subject: Re: Obligations

In Bais Medrash Volume 2 number 3, Lauren writes:
<  <  My question is the following.  Why do modern Jewish people have to follow
and abide by the obligations of the Torah, if it was our ancestors who
accepted them.  I am aware of the fact that our Nishamos were there,
although we were not physically there, and I do not see why I am obligated
to follow these laws.  Thank you very much for your time.>  >

I can answer at two levels. First we do NOT follow the Torah because our
ancestors accepted it. Rather we follow the Torah because God ordered the
Torah. The phrase "For all generations" or "In all places" occurs
frequently in the Torah and lays down an obligation for all times and
places. Indeed, one opinion is that God held Mount Sinai over our ancestors
and threatened to bury them if they didn't accept the Torah-- but that
means the Torah was accepted under duress (which would not be binding). So
the original answer remains...we and our ancestors observe the Torah
because God ordered it to be followed for all places and all generations.

On a second level I can answer that there is a concept of INHERITANCE in
treaties. For example, the United states still owns Manhattan which it
bought from the Indians, Britain still respects the sovereignty of the US
(which came from the War for independence) and the south still abstains
from Slavery (which came from the civil war). So too the treaty our
ancestors made is binding upon us LIKE ANY OTHER TREATY.

Russell Hendel; Phd; Towson University;