Growing up, I remember thinking of two distinct times in a year where I felt my surroundings were “magical”: family trips to Disneyland or my three weeks every summer at my Jewish summer camp. Being around friends and community at camp was nothing short of pure magical bliss. Many friends and colleagues of mine also […]See More
From my social media, it looked like everyone saw Hamilton this week. Whether it was your first time, or you had seen it onstage, it is a lot of fun to share in this collective experience. I personally, love the songs around the Revolutionary War, especially “Here Comes the General.” In the song we see that George Washington needs a “right hand man.” Sure enough, Hamilton becomes that right hand man assisting General Washington and this begins his elevation.
I am always amazed how the weekly Torah portion seems to be in sync with what is on our minds, and sure enough this week doesn’t disappoint. We find that in the middle of the parsha, Pinchas, that Moses turns to his “right hand man,” and appoints Joshua his successor. Moses is instructed to lay a hand on Joshua and to imbue him with some of Moses’ authority, but the rabbis notice that Moses lays both hands on Joshua signaling his full confidence in Joshua.
Of course, we know from previous stories that Joshua is quite special. In fact, we recall that he is one of only two spies to bring back a good report from the land. Where the other spies saw reasons to fear and retreat, Joshua saw possibility and had faith that the Israelites would prevail. This is an important lesson for our time, we too are facing a daunting moment, but we need, like Joshua to have faith that we can move through and overcome our obstacles. Joshua doesn’t rely on faith alone, from this moment in our parsha he becomes the general, and must lead the Israelites to battle to conquer the Promised Land. We too will need to face our challenges and take the actions and precautions needed to stay safe and healthy. May we all find our strength to do so.
While we do this, we also need to find ways to maintain a sense of togetherness and routine. The next part of our parsha reviews the sacrifices for the different holidays, reminding us to keep our calendar as an anchor in the turbulent times that lie ahead. We draw similar strength seeing your campers on our computer screens at our virtual camp. We love seeing our campers push themselves at our workouts, and take part in camp-style fun like a magic show or meeting sports figures. We need these touchpoints to stay together and keep (and in some cases create) routine and we are grateful to you and your campers for the wonderful community we share.
Rabbi Dave Levy