In the events leading up to the giving of the Torah, Moses singled out a segment of the population:

And Moses wrote all the words of the L‑rd, and he arose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain and twelve monuments for the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent the youths of the children of Israel, and they offered up burnt offerings, and they slaughtered peace offerings to the L‑rd….. And he took the Book of the Covenant and read it within the hearing of the people, and they said, "All that the L‑rd spoke we will do and we will hear.1

If you’re going to build monuments on behalf of the entire nation and read out the text to the entire nation, and if the whole nation is going to simultaneously promise to fulfill the Torah, why single out the youthsTo build a community, you have to reach out to the young for special treatment by having them offer their own sacrifices?

Obviously, they are not like everyone else. They are the future. Think of young children in the synagogue: Their tremulous tones as they sing along to the prayers and that special gravitas they display as they stretch to kiss the Torah contribute immeasurably to the character of the service. The older congregants might arrive on time and maintain the minyan (the quorum of ten men), but kids are the lifeblood of a congregation.

There could be 1,000 people packing every pew in the synagogue every week, but if there are no young people among them, the congregation is moribund. You can tell an organization has a future when young people are willing participants in the activities. Conversely, if there are no teenagers and young adults in the crowd, there won’t be a crowd for long.

So first, Moses called the young people forward and convinced them to pledge themselves to the program, and then, and only then, he addressed the rest of the nation.

To build a community, you have to reach out to the young.