This story is one for the history books.
It was during a senior set up week, where ropes and tools abound, along with equal parts freedom and responsibility. Senior week is a time where there are no chanichim around to witness our mistakes; it’s a time where madrichim can work out all of our stupid before the chanichim arrive, and we must don our masks of maturity.
Of all things that must be built during, the flag pole is of paramount importance. Without the planks holding the structure and the bungee cords to hoist the flag, we have no centre around which to scream our ruach every night. On this particular balmy senior set up day, two madrichim were responsible for erecting what was hoped to be the finest structure ever seen. But alas, distractions were rife, and the two decided that a creative break was in order.
Amidst the available toys with which to entertain themselves lay an enticing bungee cord, snaking through the grass, begging to be stretched. Of course, the only question in the world that held any importance at that moment in time was how far could it possibly stretch?
Apparently, very far.
The two madrichim ran to opposite ends of the field, running out the slack and reaching the point of Extremely Tight. They continued to pull, and the cord pulled back. Their triceps and biceps screamed in request, and the madrichim screamed at each other not to let go!
There was endless trust between the two, having grown up together, having grown together through childhood, puberty and into early adulthood.
What would happen next would have the potential to break that trust forever, as the voice of chaos sauntered by.
With a deft whisper into one ear, the newcomer breathed, “just let go.”
As the story goes, zero point zero zero two of a second passed, before the bungee cord sliced through the ear and into the madrich on the receiving end, dropping him to the ground like a stone, where he would lie for the next forty minutes. The two madrichim on the other end sprinted towards him in panic, as the weight of what they’d done rushed in.
They sat with the injured madrich as he lay in shock, begging his forgiveness and assuring him that he would be ok. At the same time, as traumatizing as the situation was, no one could help but see the funny side – they should have known there could be no other outcome.
As the sun made its way across the midday sky, the injured madrich began to stir, and made an attempt to rise. He lifted his shirt to observe the destruction; lacerations criss-crossed his stomach, and his entire torso had turned a horrific shade of purple, blue, red, green, yellow; a rainbow of colours that man has not yet even found a name for.
The current shaliach, who had only known the boys for a few days, was called over to assure the madrich. The poor shaliach got to see a torso sliced like a salami – a sight he never expected to see as he made the long journey from Israel – but was able to insist that death was not imminent. With that, the boys spent the next two hours in the freezing river as the injured soothed his wounds and the injurer battled with his conscience. As the minutes ticked by, the lacerations across the madrich’s stomach throbbed, as the colours undulated and attempted to replicate Norway’s Northern Lights. The injured madrich attempted to reassure the guilty one that he would be fine, that he would live, and that he held no resentment – but it would take years before the guilt would subside.
To this day, the story is recounted as a cautionary tale between the madrichim. Every senior camp it is brought out, as a lesson about bungee cords, as a lesson in friendship, and as a lesson in maybe not doing what others tell you to do without considering the consequences. We learnt our lesson, and all has been forgiven, but the chanichim are now never allowed to play with bungee cords.
Just don’t touch them.
(This story has been edited for a general audience.)