Evolving Our Passions: A Reflection on Parshat Toldot by Rabbi A | Camp Ramah Northern California

Evolving Our Passions: A Reflection on Parshat Toldot by Rabbi A

As a camp counselor my fantasy was year round camp. Instead of ending camp and returning to school and work, we’d just stay at camp all year round.  I’d live with my closest friends, we’d always have fun activities, and, thanks to the kitchen staff, we’d never have to cook! What could be better than that?

As I grew older I realized that maybe my year-round-camping idea wasn’t really the best idea after all. If we never left camp, when would we see our families? And if we never left camp, how would we get the education and job experience we would need for our careers?

The Ishbitzer Rebbe (R. Mordechai Yosef Leiner, 19th C. Poland), in his commentary on the weekly Torah portion, reveals the a deep truth we all know as we get older. In his view, Isaac and Abraham are a paradigm of how our passions shift throughout life. When we are young, our desires burn hot and fast. Like Abraham, when we want something, we passionately go after it. As we age, the desire leads us to a more measured, deeper burning passion. This is reflected in the disciplined nature of Isaac.

The passion camp fostered within me as a young counselor was life changing. Those years were critical in forming my Jewish identity and my lifelong friend group. I wanted that to last forever. But life comes in phases and things change. As I grew older, my role needed to become more measured, more strategic.

If we were never to leave camp, who would support camp from the outside? The love of Abraham is great but, for it to last, it must be balanced by the discipline of Isaac. The reality we all know is that camp is not only created by the summer counselors, but also by the year round staff, the board members, and through the generosity of donors. Without any one of these pieces, no camp could provide the quality experience that I fell in love with as a young counselor. As I grew, my responsibility shifted toward ensuring other young people would have the opportunity to experience the amazing wonders of camp. That they too would have the memories and friendships to carry them through their life.

In the spirit of the approaching season of Thanksgiving, we want to thank all the members of our community who have helped to provide a home and community for the next generation of dreaming campers and counselors.

We look forward to celebrating with you at the Ramah Galim Gala on December 10th – details and signup information can be found at Ramahgala.org. Can’t come to the gala but want to support our work? Donate on our website.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Ariel Sholklapper
Director of Development and Communications
Camp Ramah in Northern California