Parshat Re’eh – What’s Your Gift?
In this week’s parsha we read that on all three festivals, Jews were commanded to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Each person who went “must not appear before the Eternal empty-handed. Each must offer according to their gift and in accordance with the blessing of the Eternal, your God, that God has given to you.”
So on each of the three festivals the Jews would go to Jerusalem, with these three stipulations from God: They could not appear before the Eternal empty-handed; they had to give according to their unique gift; and they had to give in accordance with God’s blessing. God was commanding them to bring the best of themselves, which is a lesson we can all learn each day. When we come together, it is not just an opportunity to receive, but an opportunity to share – more specifically, to share our own unique element or voice (gift) – even more specifically, we have to recognize that we can only share that gift because of God.
Each summer, we come to Yavneh and bring our best selves to share with our community. Now, Yavneh is no Jerusalem – don’t get me wrong here. But the principle still stands. We go to a place that is so important to us, so we bring the very best of ourselves. Each summer we exist in a place and moment where we are defined by the best aspects of ourselves that we have to offer. But this place wouldn’t be so special if we didn’t each bring these best elements of ourselves.
Just like going to Jerusalem on pilgrimage eventually must end, so too must camp. We have to descend the hill from Jerusalem and reintegrate back into our regular lives, until the next pilgrimage holiday, the next summer when we can bring the best of ourselves to camp. But we do so as changed people – we have been reinvigorated by our experience together. This has been my first summer at Yavneh, and it’s already helped me be my best self as I’ve had the privilege to work, learn and experience with everyone here. I’m so grateful, and I’m going to do my best, as I bless us all to do, to take this incredible summer with me into the year and come back next year even stronger. Shabbat Shalom and l’hitraot!
Questions for the Shabbat Table:
- What was the “gift” and “blessing” that you brought with you to offer to camp this summer?
- After benefiting from the gifts and blessings of the entire Yavneh community, what are you bringing back with you into the rest of your year?