Parshat Nitzavim-Vayelech: On the importance of tradition

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By Asher UddemeBy Asher Uddeme

This week, we read two portions from the Torah, Nitzavim and Vayelech. Both portions emphasize the chain of tradition. In the opening of Parshat Nitzavim, Moses tells the people that God is making a covenant with them and all the future generations, fulfilling the promise made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The covenant is made with all of Israel — past, present and future. My bar mitzvah marks my entry into this covenant and tradition.


In Parshat Vayelech, Moses writes down God’s teachings and gives them to the priests and to all the elders of Israel. In Pirkei Avot 1:1, it says: “Moses received the Torah at Sinai and transmitted it to Joshua, Joshua to the elders, and the elders to the prophets, and the prophets to the Men of the Great Assembly.” This tradition that began with Moses and was passed down through the many generations before us will be passed down to all the generations that follow us. This is tradition!

Tradition is very important to me because it is a way to respect those who came before me and to carry on their legacy.

In fifth grade we made tallitot. On my tallit, I put the line from the Amida: Elohei Avraham, Elohei Yitzhak, Elohei Yaakov — God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. These three founding fathers who are mentioned in this week’s parshah link us to the original covenant. I chose to put this line on my tallit to show that I am now part of this precious link. I am now part of this precious tradition!

Another important tradition teaches us how to respect our elders. We learn from this week’s Torah portion that Moses chooses to transmit the tradition to our elders. Our elders are wise and experienced, and they teach us valuable lessons. For my bar mitzvah project, my friends and I visited a senior home. It was a good opportunity to listen to the seniors talk about their lives and experiences. As I become a bar mitzvah, I am thinking about how I want to live and pass on the traditions to my family.

Asher Uddeme is an eighth grade student at Krieger Schechter Day School.

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