Showing posts from August, 2016

What did you learn at Jewish summer camp? (Parashat Va-et'hanan)

I returned home this week after spending a few weeks as a Jewish educator and rabbinic resource at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires. And greeting me on my return is the Torah portion of Va'ethanan, which reminds me of some of the value of learning about Judaism at summer camp.  The Torah portion of Vaethanan has been described as the 'greatest hits collection' of the torah.  This torah portion includes numerous well-known passages including the second retelling of the ten commandments, and verses quoted in the Torah service and in Aleinu.   But most famous of all is the Shema, which affirms our belief in one God and our commitment to perform various mitzvot as a way to keep this central teaching at the forefront of our minds. One of the Hasidic masters, Menachem Mendel of Kotzk, made a perceptive comment about one verse in this paragraph, that reminds us of an element of the core mission of Jewish learning in a summer camp context. The verse says, ' vehayu hadevari