Why the Torah was given BaMidbar…..

The Negev is one of my favorite places on earth. During the day, you see a huge expansiveness of nothing but reddish-brown, rocky, dusty craters and hilltops. At night, it’s so dark that you see countless stars. It makes me feel small, grateful, special, and in awe of the world all at the same time. I remember standing with our JCC group in the middle of the desert in 2014 when our tour guide asked us why we thought the Torah was given BaMidbar, or in the wilderness? Want to know my answer? Keep reading….

This week’s edition of Hadar’s Children & Families Devash Magazine asks the same question. Two different answers are provided. First, it cites a midrash from Mekhilta which states ‘the Torah was given in the wilderness so that anyone who wants to accept the Torah can come and accept it.’  In other words, no one “owns” the midbar. The Torah was given there to say that it is meant for everyone.   Second, it cites the Talmud Eruvin, which suggests that just as the desert is humble enough to let all stumble upon it, learners also must be humble. When I read these two ideas together, I see it as finding a balance – we must be humble enough to not think we own one particular interpretation of the Torah yet bold enough to believe that we are entitled to share in this gift from God. I am thrilled to tell our day camp families – in both DC and Boston – that thanks to a partnership with Hadar, an educational institution that encourages Torah learning, your child will be coming home with their own copy of Devash magazine each week.

Back to me! Why do I think the Torah was given BaMidbar? For me, nature is a place where I am removed from the stress and anxiety of everyday life. It allows me to be more open, present, and able to connect spiritually. It’s a reminder that each day we must find a way to pull ourselves out of routine and noise and into contemplation and connection. What better way to do this than by going to camp? At camp, we connect with nature, shift from the routine of the academic year and into the rhythm of summer, and build a new community grounded in Torah.