Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Toldot -- Getting Hangry

Toldot has three primary scenes. First the birth of twins, Yaakov and Eisav, to Yitzchak and Rivkah, then the selling of the birthright for a bowl of soup, and finally Yaakov and Rivkah trick Yitzchak and get the birthright he was sold.

I have always been bothered by how Eisav becomes 'bad'.  I asked the girls if they had thoughts on this.  Gabi contemplated it. Cohava ran off to ask my husband.  He came in the room and said, "According to the Rashi, these twins were pretty indistinguishable in their youth. As teenagers there was suddenly a marked distinction between them. Yaakov's nature of sitting and learning had been nurtured by his parents and education, forming him into the righteous person he became.  Eisav's nature was more wild, and this was not harnessed. His education was not geared to his personality and interests and he became distant and just pursued his wild tendencies in negative ways.  Each child must be reared according to their unique nature."

"Good. Now we know!" Cohava announced.
"Get the Chumashim. I want us to learn it inside. I have a new idea I want to share. It is a little silly but I think there is a lot we can relate to in it."
We began to read the scene of the sale of the soup.
30. And Esau said to Jacob, "Pour into [me] some of this red, red [pottage], for I am faint"לוַיֹּ֨אמֶר עֵשָׂ֜ו אֶל־יַֽעֲקֹ֗ב הַלְעִיטֵ֤נִי נָא֙ מִן־הָֽאָדֹ֤ם הָֽאָדֹם֙ הַזֶּ֔ה כִּ֥י עָיֵ֖ף אָנֹ֑כִי 

"What does 'עָיֵ֖ף' mean?" I asked.
"You are right, but is Eisav right? Does he need to soup because he is tired?" 
"He needs a nap if he is tired," suggested Tova.
"The word Eisav really means to use he doesn't know because it wasn't invented until thousands of years later. Do you know what 'hangry' is?"
"Happy and angry," guessed Ruti. I praised her guess and was amused that this is an emotion that is unique to her.
"Horribly angry?" Gabi asked. I was even more amused that her definition was something she knows so well. 
"Really hungry that you get mad," Tova suggested. I was astounded.
"Yes! Tova is right! It means so hungry you get angry," I explained. Cohava did not believe me it was a real word and looked it up online. She was shocked that it exists.
"Now that you know the word, can you think about how you feel when you get hangry and how it applies in the story?"
"Yeah, I make bad choices when I am too hungry," Gabi reflected.  "Eisav just got overwhelmed and made a bad choice."
Another proof on hanger being the cause of Eisav's downfall is that immediately after this story, the Torah recounts a famine in the land. 
How do we combat hunger? 
How do we combat hanger? 

B"H, for us it is not a matter of actually being able to afford food. It is eating well-balanced food items, in a timely manner, before hanger sets in. 
The girls and I embarked on menu planning. 

Truth: I am the one opposed to meal planning. To me it means pressure to have the right ingredients on hand, commitment to one item with no flexibility. I think I am in the minority as a parent opposed to organizing meals.

Eventually we came up with a plan that made everyone happy. The weekly menu is the same, but the flexibility is endless. In case you cannot read the dry-erase board on the fridge: 

Sunday- 'Sunday Special' all of Shabbats Greatest Hits on Repeat (aka leftovers from Shabbat).
Monday- Big Salad- this can be any kind of salad, the possibilities are endless.
Tuesday- Taco Tuesday- this could be tacos, spanish rice, nachos, burritos, any form of Tex-Mex.
Wednesday- Souper soup. Again endless possibilities. 
Thursday- Noodle night. Shabbat prep starts early. I will boil the noodles. If  have time it will be tuna casserole or something. If not, they can put on whatever they want.
Shabbat meals are Shabbat meals. That menu plan is always a google docs worth. 
I love the simplicity and open-endedness of this. The girls are very enthusiastic. 

Back on the parasha:

The younger girls are not as familiar with the parasha stories.
In addition to our Torah books, the girls enjoy watching this cute puppet show series. They like the puppets and want to do it themselves. I do have puppets and tell the story this way at school but there is never enough Rivkah to go around.
The girls enjoyed making paper bag puppets.

Shabbat Shalom! 

Friday, 10 November 2017

Chayeh Sarah- Girl Power

In Parashat Chayeh Sarah we mourn and eulogize the first mother of the Jewish nation.
Here is video, sharing a unique perspective on the most influential Jewish woman.

In addition to this memory, the girls and I looked at old blogs from this week's parasha.

Five years ago we made a well.  The older girls remembered this well [pun intended] and enjoyed retelling the story of Rivkah at the well.

Then we looked at how we decorated candlesticks four years ago.  They remembered the project well but only had a vague recollection of the passuk and Rashi we highlighted.

First we caught the younger ones up on the story of finding a wife for Yitzchak.  The girls brainstormed what Eliezer should look for and Ruti wrote it down.

For anyone who is not adept in Kindergarten writing, it says 'Jewish, tznua [modest], single, nice'. I thought this list was fantastic because the Torah explains how Rivkah was all of these.  Cohava thought it was funny to compare it to my husband wish list (Tall, broad, redhead, non-American English speaker, religious, zionist, intelligent, funny...).

Then I circled back to the older girls and we reviewed the text we learned in the candlesticks blog.

"Now we make the well!" announced Ruti. It wasn't my plan, but sure.

It took some time to figure out the mechanics of using a well, but they soon devised a method of teamwork.

For those who did participate.

"Ema, where are the glass candlesticks from Ikea?" asked Cohava.  She was initially disappointed that there were none but perked up when I said 'make dough for clay'.

2 cup flour
1 cup cornstarch
1 cup flour
2 T oil
1 (and a little more) cup water.


slowly add water
 roll. cut with cookie cutter.
 place each shape on an upside down mini-cupcake sheet.

 bake @ 250 F for 1 hour.
 Pop out, turn upside down (right side up) and back some more.
 Paint. We used acrylic.

I plan to spray shellac them later.

We will put tealights in them, make a beracha, and our Shabbat candles will fill our home with holiness like Sarah and Rivkah's Shabbat candles. Girl Power!

Shabbat Shalom!

Friday, 3 November 2017

Lech Lecha and Vayera: Sand and Stars

These two parshiot include Hashem's promise that the descendants of Avraham and Sarah will be as numerous as the stars in the heaven and the sand on the ground.

These two images are deep, meaningful, and relatable.

 First we sat with chumashim and reviewed the relevant pesukim.  Some of the girls were more engaged in the textual learning than others. There was a lot of, 'but what's the project???'

Key points:

Star Traits (this list is not exhaustive)
  • Beautiful
  • Admired, looked up to.
  • Fill the darkness with light
  • People use them for guidance
  • Symbol of the Jewish people (Star of David)
  • Timeless
Sand traits
  • Grains must work together- unity
  • Unassuming and powerful! The power of sand to stop water and fire.
Stars are incredible but they must be separate from each other.  Sand is walked all over.
We need to harness the positive traits and work on ourselves to minimize the negatives. 

I told the girls we would need to sleep on these significant ideas.

"But what about a project!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!"

Then I showed them how they would sleep on it.

Step 1: Coloring sandpaper
I gave each girl a sheet of sandpaper. They enjoyed gently rubbing it. Gabi pointed out that sandpaper was another special thing only sand can do.
 With fabric crayons, the girls decorated their page. Stars were encouraged.
 Step 2: White pillowcases and the iron.
I placed an unloved towel down, placed the sandpaper face up, pillowcase on that, iron on medium setting on top.

After the sandpaper image was transferred onto the pillowcase, the girls drew more images for transferring. 

 (When I explained the image would be a mirror image, Cohava cut off where she wrote the date. Ruti didn't because she is still in the backwards writing stage!)

 Using the sandpaper as a transfer creates a unique texture to the print.

Now they can sleep on it!

Yesterday Tova said, "Dinner is special for the perasha!" I stared at her, confused. "Because they are Morningstars! And stars are in the Torah this week!"

Tova has been reinforcing this lesson at school where she glued sand to one side of a paper and glitter to the other.

Sand play is always a popular option. We worked on 'star' play with the lite-bright.

 Ruti really made it a star!