It is hard to believe that the start of the kayitz (summer) is just over two weeks away. With so much going on, whether that be finals or vacations, the kayitz may seem like a distant thought. But this time is approaching quicker than we think. Because this time at the machaneh (camp) is so valuable to us, I want us to start thinking about how we can make the most it. We often think about the transition from camp to home, and how hard, yet important, it is to take our camp-selves home with us. But because we are so caught up in things like finals and vacations, that we rarely give much thought to the transition from home to camp. This is where we lose an opportunity to maximize our time together at the machaneh, and this week’s Parasha gives us the opportunity to zoom in on this idea.
The first topic in this week’s Parasha, Beha’alotcha, speaks about HaShem instructing Moses to tell Aaron to light the menorah in the newly-sanctified mishkan. From this we get the name of the Torah portion, which means “When you light” or, more literally, “When you elevate”. Here we can find a beautiful message from just the name of this portion. Beha’Alotcha is exactly what we do every single day during the kayitz: we elevate ourselves and those around us.
Yet we are so engulfed in the magic of camp that we can sometimes take this for granted, letting potential significant moments slip away. Sure, whether you try to or not, you will be “elevated” after four weeks at camp. Sure, whether you try to or not, you will be a “light” for someone around you. But if you truly want to make the most of your time at camp, let’s start thinking now about how we can make happen, and not just let it happen. What decisions can we make during the kayitz to “elevate” ourselves to our best camp-selves? Is it to say “hi” to someone new every day? Is it to write a journal? What can we do in our time before we arrive at the machaneh to make sure that we are a “light”? Before the kayitz begins, how can we mentally prepare for camp so that when we arrive, we can take the machaneh’s natural “elevation” to the next level? This week’s Parasha serves as a timely reminder of that.