Please enjoy a D’var Torah this week from Rosh Atzmayim 2017 Allie Rosen. Allie graduated from Indiana University in May 2016 with a degree in Recreational Therapy and then spent most of last year traveling through Europe, Israel and Southeast Asia. Allie was a camper for six summers and spent four years on staff working with Tikvah and Atzmayim. In the fall she will start a Master’s in Occupational Therapy at University of Illinois at Chicago. Reflections on Parashat Behar-Bechukotai By Allie Rosen
In this week’s parashah, Behar-Bechukotai, we learn about the laws of the Sabbatical year and the Jubilee year. God gives the commandments relating to these special years to Moses on Mount Sinai. He delivers the laws in great detail, and explains the importance behind them. During these years, the Israelites are not allowed to sow or reap crops from their land. It is a time for the land to rest, and for the Israelites to put their trust in God that he will keep them safe and from going hungry throughout the year. However, the aspect of the parashah that stands out most to me is the emphasis that God puts on the Jewish people treating each other well, and looking out for one another.
God says: וְכִי-יָמוּךְ אָחִיךָ, וּמָטָה יָדוֹ עִמָּךְ–וְהֶחֱזַקְתָּ בּוֹ, גֵּר וְתוֹשָׁב וָחַי עִמָּך. V’chi yamuch achicha, umata yado imach – v’hechezakta bo; ger v’toshav vachai imach “And if your brother becomes impoverished and his hand wavers beside you, then you shall support him so that he may live beside you, even if he is a stranger and sojourner” (Leviticus 25:35).
It is our obligation as Jews to support others, and provide them with the assistance they need to live as fulfilling and independent a life as possible, because we as a Jewish people are only as strong as those struggling within our community. God makes that clear to us throughout the parashah. In the verse above, we can reflect on the idea that as important as our own endeavors are, when we have a member or our community in need, we must prioritize them and help them to get back on the right track.
This is no simple task. Life moves quickly, and it is easy to get caught up in our own challenges and successes. It takes thoughtfulness and selflessness to see and understand what others are going through. Empathy does not always come naturally, but it is a skill that we should all be sure to exercise in our lives. These values of friendship, and feeling the responsibility for one another, are ones that all campers learn throughout their time at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin. We must make sure to internalize them, and act on them to build the strongest Jewish communities we can at camp and at home.
In a few shorts weeks, we will all be meeting together on the kikar where we are blessed with a community that supports each other and pushes each of us to be our best selves. The nature of the Ramah community to be inclusive and always look out for friends in need is not as easy to find in the world outside of camp. With that in mind, I encourage each of you, campers and family members alike, to take the time over these next couple of weeks as we transition to summer to reach out to friends and members of the community that may need a little extra support.
I look forward to a summer of fun, growing, and supporting one another in Conover!