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    Tradition teaches
    that the souls of all
    Jews who would
    ever live until the
    end of time were present at Mount
    Sinai when the Torah was given.
    This concept actually finds halachic
    expression, in the concept of “Mushba
    Ve’omed Me’Har Sinai,” which
    means that we are all considered to
    have vowed at Mount Sinai to observe
    the Torah. The Rabbis teach that a
    vow to observe the Torah does not
    add anything, since we in any event
    are bound by the oath we took at Sinai
    to fulfill all of G-d’s commands.
    On the other hand, the Gemara in
    Masechet Nidda tells of an additional
    vow that we all took, committing
    ourselves to observe the Torah. The
    Gemara teaches that before a child
    is born, the infant is forced to take
    an oath pledging to be righteous and
    avoid sin throughout his or her life. A
    number of Rabbis raised the question

    of why this oath is necessary, given
    that the child’s soul had already taken
    this vow at Mount Sinai. If, indeed, we
    are all under the category of “Mushba
    Ve’omed Me’Har Sinai,” then why is
    a second oath necessary before birth?
    One answer that has been given is based
    on a Halacha relevant to employment.
    An employer is not permitted to
    change the terms of the agreement
    with the employee, making his work
    responsibilities more difficult, without
    the employee’s consent. For example,
    if the arrangement described in the
    contract involves work to be done in a
    comfortable, air-conditioned building,
    the employer is not entitled to change
    his mind and force the employee to
    work outside in the scorching heat.
    When we vowed at Sinai to fulfill the
    Misvot, we made this vow when we
    were just souls, without a body. But
    when an infant is born, the soul is
    placed into a body. Needless to say,

    observing the Torah is infinitely
    more difficult with a physical body.
    It is because of our bodies that we
    have needs that distract us from our
    obligations to G-d, and that we are
    so easily tempted and lured toward
    sinful conduct. The oath we made
    as souls at the time of Matan Torah
    does not require us to observe the
    Torah under the far more difficult
    circumstances of life with a human
    body. Therefore, just before birth,
    when the soul enters the infant’s
    body, a new oath is needed, wherein
    the child promises to meet the great
    challenge of fulfilling the Misvot with
    a physical body.
    As we prepare for Shabuot, when we
    reaffirm our acceptance of the Torah,
    we should remind ourselves that Torah
    observance is worth every bit of hard
    work and sacrifice that it entails. As
    any conscientious Torah-committed
    Jew knows, living a spiritual life in our
    physical world is very challenging,

    and is fraught with struggles. But we
    firmly believe that the benefits and
    rewards of our religious commitment
    are worth far more than anything that
    we are required to sacrifice for Torah
    observance. We accept the Torah fully
    aware of the difficulty involved – but
    also fully aware of the great benefits
    we receive by striving and working
    to serve our Creator to the best of our