Rabbi Justin Held, Director of Jewish Education
It is B’yachad Shabbat! We are so excited to see our oldest campers lead the whole camp in Shabbat. The theme for this week is Last Dance Shabbat where we will look at what it means to end journeys and leave a legacy.
This week, we read Parshat Vaetchanan, the second parsha in the book of Deuteronomy. In Parshat Vaetchanan, we hear the account of receiving the 10 commandments for the second time, one of Moses’ lasting legacies to this day. In Parshat Vachanan we also hear the famous declaration שְׁמַ֖ע יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵ֖ינוּ יְהֹוָ֥ה ׀ אֶחָֽד” Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.” Directly following the Shema, we one of the most thought provoking statements in the Torah, “וְאָ֣הַבְתָּ֔ אֵ֖ת יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֑יךָ בְּכׇל־לְבָבְךָ֥ וּבְכׇל־נַפְשְׁךָ֖ וּבְכׇל־מְאֹדֶֽךָ׃ You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
For thousands of years, the rabbis have asked, how can one be commanded to love? What does it mean to be told to love?
Our campers come to camp with the expectation that they will fall in love. Those whose parents or older siblings were campers loved camp, therefore, they are expected to love camp as well. Our staff love camp. They spend each and every day on the shores of Devils Lake attempting to spread that love to their campers and whom they come into contact with.
Last summer, our B’yachad campers had their hearts broken. They were not able to come to the place they love. They were unable to be with all their friends and staff, who they love. This Shabbat is Last Dance Shabbat, our B’yachad campers are taking their last public opportunity in front of all of camp to share their love. A love that spanned a summer away. A love that has been forced to adapt when their expectations have not and could always be met.
Tomorrow, during Shabbat, we celebrate Tu B’av (the 15th of the month of Av). Tu B’av is known as the holiday of love. Jewish Valentine’s Day if you will. There is no more fitting day for our Yachers to have their Shabbat then on the day of love.
May you be blessed as you go on your way this Shabbat.