Off the Pulpit: The First and the Last

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

The first mitzvah in the Torah is to be fruitful and multiply. The last mitzvah is to write a Sefer Torah. In some sense, these are the same mitzvah.

Judaism entrusts its adherents with the sacred task of transmission. Never a dominant faith in population, it has often counted on a “saving remnant” to ensure its survival in this world.

Every parent, every teacher, every writer and student and scribe is an agent of transmission. What is handed on will never be an exact copy of what was. The letters in the Torah remain the same but the implications and interpretations will grow and change.

What matters is less the nuance than the enterprise.

Since the beginning of time, countless traditions have been lost to us. Judaism endured because between the brackets of the first and last mitzvah stood the teaching that who we are arises from what we know and what we love.       

The echo of our ancestors endured through the ages: raise up children, train students, teach, write, and cherish the word so that we will never be forgotten. 

(Rabbi David Wolpe is the senior rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles.)

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