D’var Torah Naso with Rosh Amitzim, Max Mandel!

Max Mandel  |   25 May 2018

Parsha Naso is the longest Torah portion, with 176 verses. Given the enormous length of Parashat Naso, there are so many possible directions for exploration but one thing that stuck out to me was the priestly blessing.

יְבָרֶכְךָ יהוה, וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ                                                                   May God bless you and guard you

יָאֵר יהוה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וִיחֻנֶּךָּ                                       May God deal kindly and graciously with you

יִשָּׂא יהוה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם‬          May God bestow favor upon you, and grant you peace.


In Naso we are introduced to the “priestly blessings” which were once recited by the priests. This passage has been part of the spiritual life of the Jewish people, recited during Shabbat, during holidays, and at life-cycle events. Traditionally, the blessing is said from parents to their children every Friday night.

At camp, every Friday night we place our hands on each others heads to recite the priestly blessing. Madrichim blessing chanichim, chanichim blessing madrichim and everything in between. Reciting this blessing is one of my favorite parts of shabbat at camp. It is incredible to look across the entire chadar ochel to see everyone’s head being covered in blessing. This blessing helps contribute to a special feeling of closeness between the whole machane. The act of saying this blessing together exemplifies how we care for one another over the kayitz (summer). At machane Ramah, we build our own kehillah (community) for just a few short weeks and become each other’s families. The bonds and connections you make with your friends at camp are unlike any others. Camp is such a special, holy place where we experience community and a rich sense of 3 old and new traditions.

I am looking forward to our first Shabbat together in just a few weeks. No matter if it is someone’s first year or fifth year when camp starts everyone will be welcomed into our community. At our first Shabbat dinner at camp, as we cover each other’s heads during the priestly blessings, our close knit community and family will be perfectly exemplified. Shabbat Shalom!



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