May 21, 2024
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May 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Getting all arrogant and full of ourselves is never a good idea, especially when we didn’t do anything to deserve it! In this week’s Torah portion (Deut. 8:14) Moses warns the people not to get arrogant when they see how much wealth and success God gives them when they enter the land of Israel. We can learn from here the value of not puffing ourselves up.

In our story, a kid puffs himself up, only to discover that things unpuff very fast.


Oh, Brother!

“You won’t mind switching to the bottom bunk bed, right Jason?” Ron asked, more like an answer than a question. “I’ll breathe so much better up next to the window.”

“Um … OK, I guess so,” Jason replied, not looking at the short, skinny Ron in front of him, but rather at Ron’s BIG, strong counselor brother, Jack, on the other side of the bunk.

“Thanks, chum. I thought you’d understand,” Ron said as he began moving his stuff.

Jason sure did understand—because Ron had made it very clear to him and everyone else from the moment he’d shown up on this, the first day of camp, that he was the counselor’s younger brother and that starting up with him was as good as starting up with the counselor. And who in his right mind would want to do that?

* * *

Later on that day…

“OK, guys! Here we go!” Ron cried out from the pitcher’s mound as he banged the softball hard into his stiff new glove. Though the scrawny kid didn’t have much of a curveball, or a fastball either … when he’d grabbed the bunk team’s coveted pitching position for himself, none of the other kids dared to object since he was the counselor’s brother. It seemed the other team didn’t mind, either, as they went to town on Ron’s powder-puff pitches and ended up beating the guys—20 to 6!

* * *

After a long, sunny, sports-filled day, the guys dragged their sore but happy bodies back to their cabin to wash up and turn in for the night.

Ron, prancing in with his head-high, “I own the place” strut, got ready to grab the best shower when he noticed his “brother-the-counselor” swinging his full duffle bag over his shoulder. He raced over to him.

“Hey, Jack—what’s goin’ on?”

The tall teenager shrugged. “Just part of camp life, kiddo. The counselor for bunk six never showed up, so the head counselor switched everything around, so I’m going to be with them this year instead of with you guys. Don’t worry, your new counselor will be rolling in any minute.”

“Bunk… six?” Ron stuttered at the edge of the small circle of campers who’d gathered around to see what the commotion was about. “But that’s way on the other side of the camp—across the lake!”

“Yeah, I know,” Jack said, giving Ron a playful punch on the arm. “Guess that means we won’t be seeing too much of each other, after all. But you’re probably going to have more fun that way anyhow. Who wants to be stuck around his big brother all summer?”

Ron’s eyes flashed nervously around the smugly grinning circle of bunkmates all nodding their heads in agreement with Jack.

“Guys, it’s been short, but it’s been real,” Jack said, tipping his baseball cap and bounding out the door.

Ron felt like the floor of the cabin had just opened up, sliding him into a pit of alligators.

“Just part of camp life, right guys?” he smiled sheepishly.

“Uh, huh,” Jason answered. “Now can you be so kind as to give me my top bunk bed back, little guy?”

“Yeah, yeah—sure, no problem,” Ron said to the hefty Jason as he began stripping off his sleeping bag.

So long air, he sighed as he waved goodbye to the window next to his former bed. And so long to the haughty-HOT air I’ve been puffing myself up with all day.

It was definitely going to be a different kind of summer than Ron had counted on, but somewhere deep inside, he knew it was going to end up being better.

Nesanel Yoel Safran is a writer, chef and a teacher/student of Jewish spirituality. He blends these assorted vocations on his blog, “Soul Foodie,” where you can join him on mystical cooking adventures and glean practical wisdom for the kitchen—and for living.


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