Let’s take a minute to appreciate how strange Purim is.
When Purim comes around this week, we’ll be doing things we don’t do on any other day of the year or associate with any other Jewish holiday. It’s chag, but not yom tov. We don’t light any candles. Instead of reading from the Torah once, we read the Megillah twice. Instead of a meal at night, we have one during the day. Instead of giving charity to those in need beforehand, we give to everyone, regardless of need. Not to mention the costumes and general venahafochu (topsi-turviness).
On Shabbat and yom tov we receive a neshamah yeteirah, an “extra soul” that helps us experience the holiness of the day. On Purim, we instead don masks and costumes and perform mitzvot unique from any other day of the year — to give us the freedom to leave our comfort zones! Taking part in the singular strangeness of Purim can help us find new things about who we are and how we want to connect to Judaism. For all its levity, our discoveries from Purim are meant to empower us throughout the rest of the year.
Camp is a little bit like Purim. Hear me out. It’s not like any other experience you have during the year. You’re not at home with your parents, you’re in this weird beautiful place in the middle of nowhere with adults who are more fun than your parents. You learn every day, but it’s not school. You develop your deepest connections with friends you may only see 4-8 weeks out of the year. Camp forces you to discover who you are, and what you can do, outside of everything “normal” and familiar. You thought you weren’t an “outdoor kid”? Guess again. You’ve never danced and sang in front of other people in your life? Oops, you just had the time of your life at Rikudiah. You thought you pretty much knew what your relationship with Judaism was? Boom, it’s something totally new that you built all by yourself, with the help of 300 former strangers. Putting on the “mask” of being a camper helps you find new truths about yourself, just as we do on Purim.
So in short, have a great Purim, and let’s help each other connect with our deepest selves this summer.