In the Torah, we recently started reading the book of Numbers- Bemidbar in Hebrew, meaning “in the wilderness.” We learn in the Midrash:
“There are three ways to acquire Torah, with Fire, with Water, and with Wilderness.” (Midrash Numbers Rabbah 1:1)
It could be understood to mean that we acquire Torah through passion (fire), through immersion (water), and through a trek through the unknown (wilderness).
Soon over 70,000 Jewish children will be headed off to camp where they will meet tremendous role models who will share their passion. They will have immersive Jewish experiences (beyond just passing their swim tests), and there, in the bucolic setting of camp, they will experience community and prayer in ways we cannot even imagine in most of our (sub)urban life styles.
Tomorrow we will celebrate Shavuot, the holiday commemorating our national memory of the Revelation of the Torah at Sinai. In the words of Rashi, it was there at Sinai that we encamped at the foot of the mountain as “one nation with one heart.” The reality is that the memory of Sinai might be hard to access. It is easier to reconnect to our memories when in the place where they were created. It has been a long time since I was at camp, but I think about it all the time. At camp I felt impassioned and alive. I was on fire. At camp I felt like I really belonged. I was immersed in my Jewish life. Camp was a safe and supporting environment in which I could challenge myself. Camp is that special place where we can all find our own way to acquire Torah. This summer, together we can make profound memories to deepen the Shavuot experience for years to come. Have a very meaningful Shavuot.
As seen on Foundation for Jewish Camp’s Blog