The Israelites are standing upon the shores of the Red Sea with the Egyptians chasing behind them. They stare out into the abyss of the water unsure of what to do next. They look back and think about returning to Egypt, about returning to slavery. They look ahead and imagine the freedom that awaits them beyond the waters, but they know that the only way to reach that freedom is by crossing through the sea. One tribe says, “We’re not going,” followed by another and another. Then suddenly, one man does something unimaginable. A man named Nachshon, meaning “daring,” begins to walk into the water. He walks, and walks, until the water is up to nose. And abruptly, the sea parts, and the Israelites can pass through to freedom.
This is the story that Nachshon is most known for, but Nachshon again emerges as a leader in this week’s Torah portion, Nasso. The Tabernacle, the portable sanctuary for God, is finally completed and the heads of the twelve tribes are invited to present offerings for the Tabernacle’s dedication. Unsurprisingly, it is Nachshon who presents the first offering for dedication. Nachshon is the one who steps forward first, when no one else is willing to. He does not wait around for others to make a decision for him. Instead, he acts. He embodies the kind of self-confidence, courage, and bravery that Jacobs Camp imbues within our campers.
One of our core values of this summer is the value of bitachon atzmi, self-confidence. Jacobs Camp is a place where campers can push themselves beyond what they thought they could do and discover new passions. I just returned from the Talmidim trip where I saw this self-confidence firsthand. I saw campers jump off a 30 foot drop off into a lagoon, repel down a 90 foot cliff, rock climb up the side of a mountain, and master wilderness survival skills. And even more important than that, I saw campers help one another accomplish those things. Without the encouragement and support of one another, the campers would not have been able to accomplish all that they did. These past few days, and each and every day at Jacobs Camp I have the honor of watching the Nachshon in each and every camper shine through.
May we all strive to be as daring and courageous as Nachshon.