Friday, August 22, 2014


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Re’eh
26 Menachem Av 5774/August 22, 2014
Pirkei Avos – Perek 6 --- Mevorchim Chodesh Elul

After two exciting months of non-stop action and activities, the bustle of camp has been stilled, and another great camp season has come to an end. Campers and staff have returned home with wonderful memories and great friendships.
Shortly prior to everyone’s departure, Camp Dora Golding’s learning director Rabbi Noach Sauber, addressed the camp for the final time. His message is poignant and relevant:
The Shulchan Aruch states that when one departs from shul he should leave backwards. The true meaning of the law is that, when leaving, one should not turn his back on the shul out of respect.
Rabbi Sauber offered the following homiletical explanation:
Whenever one davens in shul he (hopefully) has a ‘kedusha experience’. He has spent sometime connecting with his Creator and reminding himself of his true purpose and direction in life. When he leaves the shul to ‘return to the world’, he should not turn his back on the experience he just had. He should not allow the inspiration of those few moments to fade away. Rather he should back out of the shul as he maintains his direction – facing the Aron Kodesh and maintaining the spiritual elevation he just experienced.
Rabbi Sauber then looked out at the faces of the imminently departing campers and continued: “Over the course of the past few weeks we have all grown together. Many of us have davened more than we do during the year, especially with a minyan. Some of us may not be used to singing Shema carefully with the tropp as we did in camp. An incredible amount of campers made sure to be ready for Shabbos a half hour early to come to the shul and learn in memory of the three boys who were killed in Eretz Yisroel a few weeks ago. Many of us displayed a greater level of kavod hatefillah by not speaking at all in shul, even though we may not be as careful during the year. For many it is a tremendous challenge not to play organized sports games on Shabbos, and yet we didn’t do so on Shabbos in camp. An incredible amount of boys learned one, two, and even three hours from their own free time (!) every Shabbos afternoon. And the list goes on.
“If you can take any of those lessons to heart and keep them going in your homes throughout the year, then you have not turned your back on Camp Dora Golding. I beg of you: Don’t turn your back on Camp Dora Golding!”  
It is worth adding that the following morning, after those of us who were still in camp, together with many guests visiting the Poconos, davened Shacharis, a young man approached Rabbi Sauber and mentioned to him that he had been a camper over a decade earlier and Rabbi Sauber had offered a monetary incentive for anyone to learn two halachos a day from the summer until Chanukah. The young man told Rabbi Sauber that after getting the reward, he never stopped. Over ten years later he was still learning two halachos a day because of the inspiration from that summer. Talk about not turning your back!
Each Friday night during at the conclusion of Lecha Dodi the congregation turns around and faces the back of the shul, ushering in the holiness of Shabbos.
Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach a’h noted that on a deeper level, as Shabbos begins we are turning our backs on our failings and frustrations of the week, as we allow ourselves to become enveloped in the sanctity of Shabbos, in the hope that we will be able to maintain its holiness.
This week we bless the month of Elul and begin to think about teshuva and personal growth. The first step of that process is to contemplate what things we need to turn our back on, and what things we want to continue to facing with complete focus.       

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,
            R’ Dani and Chani Staum      

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