Thursday August 4
In shiur today, we learned the painful history about Nicholas Donin, a convert from Judaism to Christianity, who brought a list of 35 charges against the Talmud to the Pope in 1236. Pope Gregory then sent an edict to all the kings in Europe to confiscate the books from the Jews and burn them. The only king that complied was King Louis of France, and he gave the Jews the opportunity to defend themselves. The trial lasted two years, but ultimately, the Talmud was found guilty. In 1242, twenty four wagons were loaded up and burned. Every manuscript that was burned was handwritten, having taken months upon months to painstakingly complete. The chanichim, of course, needed to be sensitized to the loss of knowledge when books are burned and there is no internet!! R. Meir of Rotenburg (known as “the Maharam”) witnessed this tragic burning and composed a kinah (lamentation) which many read on 9 Av. While kinnot are normally written about a person, this unique kina is composed about the Torah. The loss of the Talmud, and by extension, Torah, is the loss of the soul of the people. Not only that, but the symbolism of the Talmud pages going up in flames was incredibly painful. Some of the drama was experienced by the chanichim, when later on during shekem in the late afternoon, they were witness to a fire burning in a large garbage can, into which Roshei Eidah threw “books” (really, just cardboard – but the imagery was powerful!)
We actually started the day with some excitement in the Minyan held for/by eidot Bet and Gimmel. One of the Gimmel boys celebrated his becoming a bar mitzvah. He was chazzan, leined the kiriat haTorah for today and had candy thrown at him by everyone!! We actually all danced and sang for this simcha in the middle of the Shul! It was so special for him and for everyone there. Mazal Tov Daveed Sarna and special Mazal Tov to his parents Rabbi Yehuda and Michelle Sarna.
It was a fun busy day at machane with regular peulot all day and then chugim (electives) before shower-time and hachanot erev.
Tonight was a special night tochnit that was basically Junk Wars BUT it was done very very creatively in connection with what we are learning about. After maariv, the chanichim watched a skit in which the Maharam from Rotenburg was taken away by the police (we got our security guards in on the action) and imprisoned in Indoor World. (In real life, he really was imprisoned) The chanichim needed to earn money to pay the ransom the government was demanding. Each round, each bunk sent up what they thought their best junk was for the category given, and whoever won received “money”. The bunk at the end with the most money was told they could now ransom the Maharam. But, just like it really happened way back when…the Maharam refused to be freed. He did not want to set the precedent that the Non-Jewish authorities would kidnap and imprison Jews and then make money for it. He ended up withering away in prison.
Admittedly, two sad topics today but enough fun was had in between and around the drama, that they all seemed just fine 🙂 Looking ahead… tomorrow is HIKE DAY again!!
Kaytana had such a great day today – they learned about Matan Torah and then celebrated by going to Midway, a kiddie amusement park 40-min away. They had so much fun on all the rides, slides and bumper cars. They came home exhausted, so they ate dinner and went straight to sleep!
Machal left their Chutz site for a few hours of canoeing down the Allegheny River. This gave them some experience (skills and tips too!!) for their trip to Virginia soon! Back at their Chutz site, they prepared Tisha B’Av skits that they will be presenting to the younger campers on Sunday. They will have a few stations and the various eidot will walk around and watch them all. Fuller report on that will be given Sunday night… Tonight, their dinner was in the form of a Master Chef competition. Yum!