This Shabbat, Olim ’14 lead an incredible Shabbat T’filah on Saturday morning. Campers read, sang, danced and presented art. Here are a few of the D’vrei Torah that were written and read.
Nettie: Shabbat Shalom! This week’s Torah portion is Parashat Balak in the book of numbers. In this portion, Balak, the ring of Moab, wants to curse the Israelites because he is afraid of their military strength. He calls upon Balam, a prophet, to help curse the Israelites. When Balam attempts to speak out against Israel, a blessing comes out instead of a curse. This shows how, in a time of conflict, we can overcome differences for the good of the community. Even though Balam originally tried to curse the Israelites, he was able to bless them and peacefully resolve the conflict. We can connect this lesson to real-life situations. Jillian: As Olimers, a lot of us have decided to stay full summer. Being that many of us have only gone one session in previous summers. This summer, a large amount of us have been thrown into a new community with numerous new faces. For Deborah and me, we have only gone first session in the past. In the last four days, we have had the opportunity to meet some fabulous people who have only gone second session, including Nettie! Deborah: Not only have we met, but we have bonded and have become great friends. We were able to look past our different sessions, bunks and personalities to allow for a wonderful new friendship to flourish. As our theme, for this service is overcoming our differences to unite, we must all use our differences to strengthen ourselves and each other and enjoy the best summer of our lives.
D’var Torah #2
Jacob: Once upon a time, there was a bunk of Ofarimers. These Ofarimers were a rowdy bunch.
Perry: They didn’t care about rules. They did what they wanted, they didn’t go to sleep and they skipped their activities. Zach: Worst of all, they had a counselor who always tried his very best to relate to them but he just couldn’t. Jacob: As a result, the Ofarimers treated the counselors more poorly than anybody deserved to be treated.
Perry: Because of his differences, the kids thought he didn’t deserve respect.
Zach: When they got to camp the next summer they saw that the counselor had switched out of their unit and knew he was truly hurt.
Jacob: As they got older and finally got to Olim, these campers realized that disrespecting and not appreciating someone bcuase of their differences was wrong.
Perry: Respect isn’t a privilege. It’s a necessity.
Zach: These campers were us. And although we can’t take back our past actions, the least we can do, all of us together, is to learn from our mistakes. We hope you can learn from our mistakes as we have. Differences should bring us together not drive us apart.
Jordana Just because you’re different, or like different things, doesn’t mean anything because on the inside, we’re still the same. Your hair, your clothes, even your gender shouldn’t affect how people see you. Differences, in the end, are what bring us together. Go up to someone new today. Ask them about their interests. Opposites tend to fit together more often than similarities. For example, look at me. I’m not the most “normal” person. I have colored hair and dress and act differently. Unlike many of my friends, but we still get along perfectly. We care for each other and can talk to each other about almost anything. My bunk this year, there is the prep, the peppy blonde, the Rabbis kids, and the extreme one direction fans, skater chick, and me – the grunge kid. Together we join and create an amazing friend group, despite our differences and it has been this way for almost three years. As we recognize and honor our differences, we join together to prepare ourselves for our prayerful moments. Some of our prayers will be silent, while others will be in a single voice.
Shabbat Shalom, everyone. In the spirit of unity and acceptance, and the theme of “coming together” that we derive from Parshat Balak, I’d like to take a moment to examine this this story from a somewhat unconventional angle – For what if the Torah was told through the eyes of Balak? Balak is the traditional bad guy here. We are taught, perhaps unintentionally, to hate and fear Balak – because he calls upon Balam to curse the Israelites, because he is king of Moab, which is the subject to a degree of biblical disapproval and due to all of this he is a rather nefarious individual. But is Balak truly a villain? The Israelites were marching through Moab with a rather large and intimidating military force. The Torah tells us that the Moabite army had clashed with Israel before and proved highly ineffective. Balak realized this and so he called upon Balam to curse the Israelites – to stop the army that was razing his land and terrorizing his people. Balak acted as a king, to protect his kingdom and his subjects as best he could – and so we call him evil? We are to hate Balak too because his a Moabite. The Torah would like to imply that all Moabites are evil. But how can this be? The Jews have faced persecution everywhere throughout history – are we to despise Balak for his ethnicity, his religion? To conclude – one of the middot that we learn about in Kesher is Rachmanut – compassion & understanding your opponent. If we are to overcome our differences, we must reflect upon the viewpoint of those who we do not understand. We must consider that it is perhaps we who are wrong, not the wronged. To overcome our differences, we must first understand our differences – and it is through that that we better comprehend each other and ourselves. Shabbat Shalom!