'What's the biblical Hebrew word for the word hero?'
A few ncsy'ers and I sat pondering...we speak Hebrew but we couldn't just remember what that word was.
'You know why you can't remember that Hebrew word?' Rabbi Menachem Nissel was giving a shiur called "Heroes" during rest time on Shabbat and we decided to sit in on it. He continued 'BECAUSE IT DOESN'T EXIST! There is no concept of a hero in Judaism!'
A little bit puzzled, we were all ears waiting for him to explain his claim. He continued saying that yes, the great things that the people deemed heroes do are amazing-they feed thousands of people in Africa, or jump into a burning house to save the old women inside, etc. But even if you don't do something huge like that, you still have the potential to be an amazing person! A mother that wakes up to nurse her baby and sweetly sings to her child at 4 AM even though she hasn't slept in days is an amazing person. A teenager that goes to visit his grandfather in his nursing home everyday just to be with him is an amazing person. Someone that will make sure they do all they can to make thier college roommate comfortable with their living situation-is an amazing person too. It's the things that you do in private that really count as well. Our greatest examples of some of the biggest chessed moments were when those great people were not in the public eye; Avraham and the Akeida, Yaakov and his experience with the angel, etc.
His point was to show us that being nice to others and being a caring person is what being a Jewish person is all about. That was the theme of the NCSY Central East fall Shabbaton. Being nice to others!
It was my first shabbaton as an adviser and I will admit I was a bit nervous going in. I remember being an NCSY'er and the problems some kids gave adviser's-I didn't want that to happen to me. But I went in with an open mind knowing that whatever comes my way is how it supposed to go.
I'm not going to go over every detail because of how much that actually happened-but I will certainly say this provided the reassurance I needed on why I came back to America.
Amazing bonds were built, emotions were brought out, inside jokes were made, pictures were taken, songs were sang, dancing was incredible, d'var Torahs were given, deep and meaningful conversations were had, and the overall shabbaton I can say was not only a learning experience for the NCSY'ers but for myself as well.
Many of the d'var Torahs given by the NCSY'ers were amazing but I will pick one to repeats. At the end of the Shabbaton an amazingly sweet girl that I got the priviledge to meet talked about the arba minim on sukkot and what kinds Jew's they represent. (Taken from jewfaq.com)
"the etrog, which has both a pleasing taste and a pleasing scent, represents Jews who have achieved both knowledge of Torah and performance of mitzvot. The palm branch, which produces tasty fruit, but has no scent, represents Jews who have knowledge of Torah but are lacking in mitzvot. The myrtle leaf, which has a strong scent but no taste, represents Jews who perform mitzvot but have little knowledge of Torah. The willow, which has neither taste nor scent, represents Jews who have no knowledge of Torah and do not perform the mitzvot."
She liked the idea but wasn't too happy about the willow branch-lacking both knowledge of Torah and lacking in Mitzvot. So she asked her local rabbi and got the answer that the willow branch is the fastest growing kind of tree-even if you cut it down, it can very quickly rebuild itself. Basically saying the Jews lacking in both categories that even if sometimes it seems so hard for them, they are the ones who can get back up and grow the quickest.
NCSY is an amazing organization and I'm very lucky to have the opportunity to be so involved. I have another shabbaton next weekend for Southern and I couldn't be more excited despite my workload of midterms, school, and work-theirs nothing more that I want then to continue on this amazing path of inspiring to be inspired. Here's to myself and everyone else being a nice and good person and just spreading the love-because that's what Jews do.