BaMidbar’s curriculum, tied to program phases, is an integral driver of the student therapeutic process and experience.
Phase work is directed by clinicians, and implemented and guided by field staff.
The five phases are:
Throughout your time at BaMidbar, you will work through program phases. The five phases are:
The work you do within these phases is meant to enrich your time at BaMidbar and you guide you through a journey of personal reflection and growth. This first phase, Hachanah, is meant as an orientation to BaMidbar. Hachanah means preparation, and just as the word implies, your time in this phase is meant to prepare you for the journey to come.
A Journey into the Wilderness
In Torah portion Beshalach, the Israelites reach the Red Sea and cross from Mitzrayim, Egypt, into the Midbar, the wilderness. As Moses prays, the Israelites weep, and the Egyptians pursue, an unlikely hero steps forward. The Talmud tells us that Nachshon ben Aminadav walks into the sea, not knowing what the future holds, but knowing that he cannot return to the slavery of Egypt. As Nachshon moves forward, taking a leap of faith, the sea parts and a pathway emerges. In the Talmud, God speaks to Moses saying, “There’s a time for prayer and a time for action.” Moses had prayed, and nothing happened. But a young and unknown man took a leap of faith, stepping into the sea, and embraced the infinite possibilities that lay before him, rejecting the constraints of his past.
At BaMidbar, each of our students is a Nachshon, initiating their own leap into the unknown to embrace a future full of infinite possibilities. It is hard to leave challenging situations. As challenging as the present may be, it provides a source of comfort in its familiarity. By coming to BaMidbar, you are taking that chance, saying, “Even if I don’t know where this path will take me, I know I can’t stay here.” It is not because of Moses that the sea parts and the Jews begin their journey to freedom. It is the unassuming, the Nachshons of this world, who change the future of the Jewish people forever. Similarly, as a student at BaMidbar, you are brave, the unlikely hero of your personal narratives as you dive into a new experience and environment, your personal journey through the midbar, the wilderness.
Kavanah comes from the root kaven, which means to direct. Kavanah is how we direct our hearts and minds as we speak words and do actions. In Judaism, this is most often associated with performing mitzvot, or commandments. Performing mitzvot may not be meaningful by itself if there is no intention or meaning behind it.
There is a balance in Judaism between kevah, what is fixed and routine, and kavanah, what is intentional. It is important to have both. Some think of kevah as a cup, and kavanah as the liquid within the cup. Without the cup, the liquid would spill everywhere, and you could not drink it. Without liquid to fill the cup, the cup has little purpose.
As you enter your journey at BaMidbar, what intention are you bringing? In what ways do you hope to change, learn, and grow? How will you cultivate sacredness, however you define it, in your life? How will you seek support and use structure to make sure your intention follows through into action? Through the program, BaMidbar provides the container, the structure of the student experience. Through your kavanah, you determine how you fill that structure, what you put in your container.
Among the many things that religious tradition holds in store for us is a legacy of wonder. Wonder goes beyond knowledge. Wonder is a state of mind in which we do not look at reality through the perspective of our memorized knowledge; in which nothing is taken for granted. Modern man fell into the trap of believing that everything can be explained, that reality is a simple affair which has only to be organized in order to be mastered. As civilization advances, the sense of wonder almost necessarily declines. Such decline is an alarming symptom of our state of mind. Mankind will not perish for want of information; but only for want of appreciation. The beginning of our happiness lies in the understanding that life without wonder is not worth living. What we lack is not a will to believe but a will to wonder.
From Man is not Alone
Yirah, often translated as fear, also means awe. At BaMidbar, you will explore fear and awe in the context of a safe environment and supportive community. While fear and awe can be seen as two separate entities, in Hebrew, they are expressed through the same word, demonstrating that they serve as two sides of a single coin. What are the things we are afraid of, and why do we fear them? How does this fear impact how we move through life? During your time in Yirah, you will begin to delve into deep personal exploration and introspection, in the beauty of the Colorado Rockies. As you summit mountains, build skills, and push yourself in new and challenging ways, you will build tools to better transform the visceral state of fear into reflective, spiritual opportunities for growth.
Since the minute we are born, we have survived because of connection. Whether we like it or not, we exist in relation to other people. We are all connected to one another, in distant and close ways. Connection has many scales– family, town, school, synagogue, county, state, nation, world. Kesher has many forms; it can be friendship, romantic partnership, family membership, relationship with the self and many more. Through the lens of kesher, you will explore the multifaceted nature of your relationships and what it means to love the self and to have caring and compassionate relationships with others.
Relationships and connections are the source of our greatest joy and pleasure, and the source of our greatest pain and grief. Our closeness to others–how much we share, how much we feel understood, how we can be vulnerable and still feel loved–are all part of what make life special.
Kesherim do not remain the same; relationships change constantly. Sometimes, they are very strong and beautiful. Other times, they feel broken. As every relationship builds, there are breaking points, like small arguments or big fights. It is up to us how we deal with that break, and how we work to repair it. What relationships in your life feel broken or distant? What relationships in your life feel strong and mutual?
During your time here, what relationships do you hope to repair?What relationships do you feel you need to let go of? What kind of relationship do you hope to build here, and as you move forward?
Both in and beyond Judaism, Kehillah, community, is not a luxury. It’s a necessity. We depend on one another to survive, make meaning, and we support one another in joy and sorrow. How is community built and strengthened? Is community based on where you are, or does it transcend geography? What communities are you a part of?
Having a strong community makes us more resilient individually and together. In this final phase, we will explore wellness and strategies for building and sustaining positive social support networks. What has community taught you during your time at BaMidbar? What kind of community do you hope to build in your life? During Kehillah, you will explore what it means to you to be a contributing member of your community, and will continue to work with your support networks and clinicians on building your transition plan.
The root of “tahalich” is ה-ל-כ, hay-lamed-caf. From this, we get the word “holech,” to go, as well as “halacha,” or “the way,” which is our system of Jewish law. Where are you going? Where did you come from? What “way” do you plan to follow with your life beyond BaMidbar?
Our processes – the structures and habits we have in place – play a strong role in building resilience and keeping us moving in our intended direction. It means finding the courage to work through trauma. It means finding our own way , and also being able to reach out for help when you need to get back on track.
Processes are difficult to map; they can be messy and complicated. But, as each process ends, another begins. How will you find your way when you are lost? What plans will you put in place now to keep you on the path that is best for you moving forward? It’s not enough to know where we want to go; we also must have an idea of how we want to get there.
Throughout Tahalich, you will be exploring your next steps after BaMidbar. You will be setting goals, identifying supports, and defining a plan for how you want to move forward. This is an ongoing process, that begins the first day that you arrive at BaMidbar, and continues long after you leave here. This process involves you, your treatment team, your parents or guardians, and other support systems in your life. The transition process is individualized, to meet your unique needs, and thus does not look exactly the same for every student in the program.
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Bamidbar Wilderness Therapy is a program of Ramah in the Rockies.