This past Shabbos was so special as so many staff at Philmont came to the Jewish Study to share the Shabbos meal. We shared food like challah and gefilte fish and had a delightful conversation. Some expressed that they find more spirituality in the outdoors than in religious school or in their respective houses of worship.
How many of the young people we come in contact through the various Scouting programs feel a disconnect with their beliefs and are looking for meaning. For this reason we need to provide a good Scouting experience for all Scouts.
The outdoors holds a special place in our beliefs and these teachings are often lost amid a curriculum of prayer, holiday observances and Torah/Scripture study. Sometimes one gets very much overloaded and misses the warmth, beauty and love of being Jewish.
Within the storm of questions and the natural curiosity of faith, one can many times find answers:
THE FIERY FIRE
Two men were walking through a forest as night fell. One man was very wise and his name was Chacham. The other man was very simple and learned with great difficulty and his name was Tam.
As they walked down the path through the forest the sky grew dark and a storm began to brew. Soon the quiet of the night was broken by the crash of thunder and the rain fell in torrents. Lightning streaked the sky as the two travelers looked for shelter from the wind and rain.
Suddenly the men heard the crackle of lightning and the roar of thunder and saw in the distance a bright light. Tam stared at the light and was afraid. Chacham began to work his way toward the light. Tam, not wanting to be left alone, reluctantly followed Chacham. As they blazed a new path toward the light the rain and wind stopped.
Soon, Tam and Chacham were in a clearing walking toward a tree that was on fire. Tam was afraid of the bright light and blazing fire. He looked down to the ground and would not move. Chacham went right up to the tree and looked into flames.
Chacham went over to Tam and took him by the hand and led him to the burning tree. Tam came very slowly, but Chacham was very insistent. For Tam it was difficult, but he trusted Chacham.
As they drew near the flames Tam felt the warmth and he began to listen to Chacham who started to tell him stories and teach him wisdom. All night, Tam and Chacham stayed in the light and warmth of the blazing tree.
For you see Chacham, understood that the burning tree could provide warmth and light. Tam only knew the fire and the crashing thunder and was afraid.
So it is that those who don’t understand and rely solely on what they see, they are afraid of the unknown.
The Torah is referred to as the etz chaim, the tree of life. Those who embrace it, learning and live by its wisdom are not afraid of the darkness, storms, lightning or thunder.
As scout’s we learn about ourselves, our community, the wonders of nature, and our beliefs. Let us all grow in wisdom so one day we too can be called Chacham.
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