D’var Torah: Blessings
God asks Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” Cain responds, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The Jewish answer is clearly yes! We are responsible for one another. As we approach Rosh Hashanah 5780, I believe that this concept is critical to all of us and integral to what we do at Camp Ramah.
In reality this concept is simple. We often talk in staff training about “never walking by.” If you see something or someone that doesn’t look right, you must turn your attention to it. This could be a sad camper or two people in an argument. Too often, if we aren’t directly involved, we just put our heads down and convince ourselves it is none of our business.
This past summer, I spoke to several different age groups about the first blessing we say in the birkat hashachar (morning blessings). It is translated, “Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the world, who gives wisdom to the rooster to tell the difference between day and night.” It is a curious prayer and one that leads to great discussions and wonderful ideas from our campers, from youngest to oldest.
However, one of the simpler meanings seems appropriate here. Even a rooster can tell the difference between day and night. It isn’t complicated. And, based on that, the rooster known when to act (or crow) appropriately. So, too, can we tell the difference between wrong and right. We are often instinctively aware when something is wrong. When we see that, we need to act, particularly to come to the aid of our fellow human beings.
Blessings are important. Tradition holds we should say one hundred blessings a day. Blessings help us to be grateful and mindful and to think about what we want to do with our day and our lives. This coming summer, we will study brachot/blessings at camp. As we start this journey, I wish our entire Ramah family what my parents always sign off saying, “Wishing you all of life’s finest blessings.” Shana Tova.