Summer is the time for camp and many of us have wonderful camp memories. I am truly blessed because I create new memories each summer as I continue being a camper all my life. Teaching Jewish values in a camp setting requires one thing — a great singing session. We have found that the lessons that our campers (and counselors) learn through singing stay with them forever. For the nine weeks of camp, I will introduce a new song each week in this column. If you want to know the tunes, just check out iTunes.
When we talk with our children about faith in G-d, they ask us so many questions that we often cannot answer. Judaism is a great religion with so many guidelines and things that we are supposed to do. There are 613 commandments — that’s a lot of things to do. Throughout our history, prophets, judges and rabbis have tried to sum up what we should do to lead a good life and do good for others. The prophet Micah summed everything up in three simple things to do, but these things include everything.
Only This (Micah 6:8)
Josh Zweiback & Steve Brodsky
What does G-d demand of you? Only this, only this. (2)
Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with your G-d (2)
U-mah A-do-nai do-resh mim-cha
Ki im a-sot mish-pat V’a-ha-vat che-sed
V’hatz-nei-ah le-chet im E-lo-he-cha
Whenever we want tounderstand words from the Bible, we begin by asking questions. Micah asked the first question, “What does G-d demand of you?” What is Micah trying to learn? What does he ask about demands — does that mean that G-d expects us to do these things whether we want to or not? Do we have a choice to behave the right way?
After we question Micah’s question, more questions come to mind. Think and talk about these questions with your family:
Why does Micah respond to the question, “Only this?” Is it simple?
What does it mean to “do justly”? How do we act in a just manner? What does it mean to be fair to others?
What is mercy? How do we act with mercy? Why does Micah say to “love mercy”? Is that different that treating people with mercy?
Being humble, showing humility is a very important Jewish value. What does it mean? What does it look like? Why does Micah say to “walk humbly”? How do we walk with G-d?
Why just these three things? How do they relate to everything else we should be doing? Is this really enough?
How can we use this song in our lives? Sometimes when we wonder how we should be acting, this song may come to mind. There are so many things we need to remember — this makes it easy to sum up the really important things to do.
Laura Seymour is Jewish Experiential Learning director and Camp director emeritus at the Aaron Family JCC.