July 16, 2024
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July 16, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Reality television has produced some pretty random shows in its history. From “So You Think You Can Eat Pancakes?” to “America’s Got Talent(ed Goats),” it seems that almost every possible show has been produced. Well, you are about to hear about one more—“Survivor: Junior Counselor.” That’s right: Eight teenagers were placed at Camp Meshovarashanavu and were challenged with trying to keep their jobs for the entire summer. After each week, one J.C. was “fired” (voted off by judges), with the surviving counselor crowned as the winner. Three sleepaway camp veterans served as the judges. The first judge was Chanan Shulman—the former head of sports from Camp Oxford known for his stylish sports goggles and fierce competitiveness, even against the youngest campers. The second judge was Rena Schwartzman, who had served as camp dictator at Camp Anawanna for 23 summers before moving to England. The third and final judge was Naftali Schmidt, the guy who just drove around on a tractor at Camp Fischer, but nobody knew what he actually did (and neither did he).

After a summer full of lice, bed-wetting, home-sickness, actual sickness, bad sportsmanship, even worse food, broken showers, muddy grounds, two hurricanes, three canceled trips, a rat infestation, a bat infestation, a family of bears in the pool, a family of piranhas in the lake, a blackout, an unexpected blizzard, a rumor camp was closing, spoiled milk at breakfast, moldy bread at lunch, burnt hamburgers for dinner, cliques, bullying, wedgies, “new” and “exciting” sports, poison ivy, missing campers, missing counselors, stolen underwear, and non-stop complaining, only two contestants remained, Shlomo and Sara.

Considering how difficult the summer had been, both Shlomo and Sara considered it miraculous to still be in the competition. Each finalist had endured at least one incident that could have led to being fired. Shlomo had a camper who thought it was funny to sneak food back from the dining room and hide it under his junior counselor’s pillow. Although Shlomo was able to laugh about finding a challah roll in his bed, he didn’t feel the same after Sloppy Joe Day. As revenge, Shlomo poured an entire bowl of oatmeal on the camper’s head at breakfast the next day. Shlomo was not fired, but only because that week a different counselor lost his entire bunk’s laundry and tried to hide the mistake by blaming it on a monkey (that he bought and let loose in the bunk). He would have gotten away with it had he not left the receipt for Pet World on his bed; the division head saw it during inspection.

That same week, Sara decided it would be a good idea to buy soda as a prize for her bunk. To try to appear as the best counselor in the world, she bought each camper in her bunk an entire two-liter bottle of Mountain Dew. Sara’s campers did not have any interest in waiting, so many of them drank the entire bottle in one night. Energized by the Mountain Dew, these campers went 48 hours straight without sleeping, terrorizing the camp at night by running around campus screaming “Do the Dew! Do the Dew!” Sara was lucky that this happened the same week as the famous “Monkey Business.” That was the only thing that saved her job.

Anyway, both Shlomo and Sara had reached their wits by week #8, and both were ready to lose their minds. Shlomo reached a breaking point at three separate times during the last week of camp. The last one came when he stepped into his shoes and found a gift left by his “favorite” camper for a little “oatmeal revenge.” Shlomo was the only one in the bunk at the time (it was his period off), and he just lost it. He started to scream, punch and kick the walls, throw objects around the bunk, and announce all the terrible things he would do to this camper later. Fortunately, after 15 minutes of this, Shlomo had exhausted himself (and his entire collection of insults), and decided the revenge wasn’t worth it. Considering that this was a reality show, Shlomo’s latest temper tantrum was recorded and shown to the judges along with the two meltdowns that came earlier in the week. However, all of these outbursts were done in private, and the only casualty was one of Shlomo’s own deodorant cans.

Although Sara had been as close to Shlomo to going crazy, she never did. Sara managed to keep her eyes on the prize and to keep her cool. Therefore, when the time came to announce the winner, almost all of the viewers were convinced that Sara would easily win. (Of course, since this is a parsha story, we all know she lost and the lesson is going to be connected to why Sara did not win.) So (as we predicted) Sara was shocked to learn that she was the one being “fired.” The judges had shown some footage of Shlomo’s tantrums, making the loss even more shocking to her.

A few minutes after the verdict was announced, the judges quieted everyone down for an explanation. Rena Schwartzman stood up and began. “With the permission of my fellow judges, I’d like to explain our decision. Sara, you really did keep your cool this week, which took amazing self-control. However, you might not have noticed some of the things you said in front of your campers.” The judges then played a few clips of Sara making fun of Camp Mesovarashava. She mocked the camp food, said she “hated” the schedule at camp, and talked about how cheap the camp owners are. After the last clip ended, Mrs. Schwartzman continued her explanation. “Sara, although your specific actions weren’t as extreme or violent as Shlomo’s, his were done in private and did not affect anyone else. Sara, your seemingly harmless words could have had a major negative impact on the campers who were listening. Remember how they started a food fight on the last day? Maybe that had something to do with you making fun of the food. Sorry, but we stand by our decision.”

In coming to the decision to wipe out society with a flood, the Torah relates two different thoughts that Hashem had. The first, at the end of Parshat Bereishit, tells us that Hashem saw that “humankind produced much evil in the world and only thought to do evil.” After this thought, Hashem adds, “I will wipe out humankind, and the animals with them.” However, immediately after, it says “and Noach found favor in Hashem’s eyes.” One way to read this is that Noach finding favor in Hashem’s eyes actually stopped the first decree from bringing about the destruction of the world. (Maybe Noach was proof that not all people are naturally evil.)

Only in this week’s parsha, Parshat Noach, when we are told that “the world had become ruined” and “all living creatures have ruined their ways,” was Noach’s righteousness not enough to save the world. The world could have been saved as long as it was only the actions of individuals (even thousands of them). But once the environment was ruined by the influence of human beings, that was it. This teaches us the importance of paying attention to how our actions affect those around us. It’s not enough to think “am I doing the right thing?” or “Is what I am doing so bad?” We must be extra careful with everything we do, ensuring we have a positive impact on all those around us. May Hashem provide us with the role models and leaders who set positive examples, and may He give us the wisdom and awareness to impact those around us in a positive way.

By Yair Daar

 

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