Shoafim: Lessons from Mattot – Massei

Visiting Educator Rabbi Jeff Arnowitz delivered a d’var Torah this sunny morning to our adat-haShoafim.  In this week’s double Parsha, Mattot-Massei, the Jewish people are getting close to crossing in to the Promised Land after many years of wandering in the desert.  However, almost at the last minute, the tribes of Reuben and Gad did not want to cross the Jordan River, because the land on the east side of the river was far more ideal for their cattle.  Rabbi Arnowitz connected this to the chanichim’s (campers’) personal experiences, regarding the theme of spiritual and practical preparations for major life transitions.  Some of the chanichim have already celebrated their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, and many others will in the coming weeks and months.  He asked the chanichim what it is they are looking forward to the most, and the least, as they are engaged in these preparations.

The chanichim had many different answers — including being full Jewish adults with all the associated rights and responsibilities, and seeing many friends and family (on the “looking forward to” side of the equation).  Rabbi Arnowitz talked about how there is much work and training to prepare for this milestone, and with all of that, the rewards are great.  Just as the tribes prepared both physically and spiritually to cross the Jordan River, so too the chanichim are preparing for becoming B’nei Mitzva.   And in preparation for the day to come, the intrepid Rosh Edah Claire M., reminded the chanichim to wear hats, apply suncscreen, and drink lots of water due to the hot conditions.