Friday, August 27, 2010

Deuteronomy Ki Tavo Verses 26:1-29:8

Although I miss the Moshava terribly, I am glad to get back to doing my usual Torah interpretation. Last time we looked at the Book of Life, we were in Numbers. Now we are toward the end of Deuteronomy. Late August and September with Judaism is like October with baseball. The Torah is already a very complicated, beautiful text to figure out. The last few portions are like the post-season. They are intense, difficult, and mean a ton to their domain. Then, Rosh Hashana is the championship series. The path to glory is on the line. Successfully celebrating Rosh Hashana takes us to the World Series. Next, Yom Kippur is the World Series of Judaism. Completing Yom Kippur makes us feel pure, new, and like champions. Maybe the Yankees should go to High Holy Services this year.

Anyways, Parshat Ki Tavo revolves around the idea that the Jews are promising allegiance to God and the commandments they have received in the desert. Then, God officially curses anybody who breaks main points in the Torah. For example, God curses those who do not respect their mother or father. After that, Adonai sends the blessings of following the Torah. Finally, God deciphers the punishments of absolutely disobeying the Torah for the rest of the reading. Let me share that I had shivers after reading the final portion this morning.

Disobeying Torah will lead to pure, personal downfall according to Parshat Ki Tavo. By disobeying, I mean constantly sinning to the point where we are known as a cruel person. Skeptics would say that this is truly not possible. God will not go after us, if we never observe the Sabbath. I like to think maybe this is a mental, personal downfall. In my eyes, Judaism gives me comfort. Faith allows me to take time to reflect and relax. Sitting in a service is like a mental vacation from the politics and pressures of growing up in 2010. Without that comfort, I would have to deal with the stress of life all alone.

As I said I had shivers after reading Parshat Ki Tavo. What makes it controversial is what God states as punishments.

Adultery, plague, sometimes death, and idolization? For instance, "The Lord will bring upon you a nation from afar, from the end of the earth, as the eagle swoops down, a nation whose language you will not understand,a brazen nation, which will not respect the elderly, nor show favor to the young.They will devour the fruit of your livestock and the fruit of your soil, to destroy you. They will not leave over anything for you of the grain, wine, oil, offspring of your cattle or flocks of your sheep, until they annihilate you." (Deuteronomy 28:49-51). God taught us not to do these things while we wandered desert. Why is God breaking the Torah? Maybe this refers to Parshat Emor. Eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth. Deuteronomy is known to refer the past lessons of the Torah.

This past week I was training for the IGNITE program. In my school, 8th graders are given the chance to mentor 6th graders as the enter the middle school. Being an 8th grader, this week was all about leadership. The first lesson in IGNITE we were taught this week was to lead by example. I do not know about the public, but God's example is not one that I think should be followed.

Friday, August 20, 2010

My Thoughts on Camp Shomria 2010

Camp Shomria was an amazing life-changing experience. Camp Shomria is a lovely camp in the Catskills mountains. It is an American simulation of Kibbutz life along with all the wonderful activities a camp should have. Hashomer Hatzair is a kibbutz youth movement that oversees the activities of Camp Shomria. By going to the camp, I have a new understanding of Israel. Also, my ideas of friendship of developed over the past six weeks. Overall, I feel to have grown as a person.

My first day was nearly impossible to process. When we picture camp, we most definitely do not envision Camp Shomria. Most people think a camp somewhere along the line of the camp in the Parent Trap . Camp Shomria is a little run down. To an outsider, it may even look abandoned. When I was finally settled in, I realized that the smiles of each camper makes Camp Shomria beautiful. The camp has been around longer than my grandparents have after all! Hadracha, or the counselors who run Camp Shomria, are also amazing. They really care for my welfare and my peers. The oldest member of Hadracha was 21, so it really gives the chance to create our own youth village.

Hashomer Hatzair is a worldwide movement that was formed by two merging movements in 1913. Hashomer, the guard, was a scouting movement that worked in and with nature. Hatzair, young/youth, was the intellectual side where we explore philosophy of ourselves and each other. When the two merged they created three pillars for their movement to put forth; Zionism, Socialism, and Judaism. Israelis are welcome onto the Moshava (camp/colony) and encouraged to share what they have experienced living in the Promised Land. Each age group combines all food and money received over the summer. Shabbat is an experience on Camp Shomria that can not be explained, it must be experienced.

As I said, I finally get Israel. For one thing, I know really want to travel there. Hashomer Hatzair hosts a program that brings Arabs and Jews together onto the camp to live and coexist with each other. The program even lead a day teaching us about Israel. I understand both sides of the conflict and the cultures the go with them. We forget that Israel is only 62 years old. That is relatively new for a country. When the United States was 62, there were still slaves of another race, and a large gender gap. Israel has time to work out its tweaks.

Another element that is important is the process of the Kvutza, group. A Kvutza consists of the kids in your grade level. We do activities with each other twice a day. The friends I have made are friends I will keep for a lifetime. By the sixth week, I felt their full compassion and full trust. Any summer camp can not create that environment.

I hope I will be able to push forward with the knowledge I have received over the past year. Thank you Camp Shomria and all the people I have met for the opportunity I have gotten this summer.