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A lesson from camp - Matot-Masei

Friday, 2 August, 2019 - 8:20 am

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Yesterday was the last day of the camp where I was a counselor. It was a camp for teenage girls between 14 and 16 years old from all over the world. For 3 weeks, 24 hours a day, I was dedicated to the girls, together with the rest of the amazing staff. (As you can imagine, I'm now exhausted).

As I’m writing these lines, almost all of them have returned to their homes and I miss them already. Each one of us comes back a better person than when we arrived. Personally, one of the important things I learnt from the camp was not to judge a person from the first impression. Even some girls who seemed like all they wanted to do is complain, no matter what we did. When we nevertheless got close to them and loved them, we discovered that they were finally very good and sweet girls… It wasn’t easy but it was worth it.

We find this challenge in this week’s Parasha Matot Masei.

The Jews had to fight the people of Midian, who had attacked them without any reason. Their country was not in the way of the Jews, but they attacked in order to annihilate them.

The wars the Jews waged against various people were not only for defense or conquest purposes. Each people represent a negative power that we need to fight and overcome until today.

In Hebrew, the word “Midian” comes from the root “madon”, which means quarrel. Midian represents the hate we have for someone without any real reason. We hate them only because his or her existence disturbs us. According to the Talmud, this senseless hate was the cause of the destruction of the Second Temple. We need to fight and stop this hate. But how?  

In the initial war with the people of Midian, Moses had to be involved. Moses, which G-d describes as the humblest person on the world, shows us the way to win the battle also against the symbolic Midian, the senseless hate. If I’m the only important person, then naturally everyone will disturb me. Anyone who speaks and dares pretend that they are worth something threatens my very existence. But with humility, consideration for others instead of for ourselves, we can really love another one.

Let’s choose a small action that we can do to fight the negative power symbolized by Midian. Greet others with a smile, hear someone until the end of their sentence without interrupting etc.

In merit of our love for one another, may G-d send us Mashiach now!

Shabbat Shalom,


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