Thursday, 25 April 2013

Count on It- Emor

Parashat Emor begins with laws relating to the cohanim. This is an area which I described in very broad terms with my own girls, although discussed in depth with a girl whose Bat Mitzvah is this week. The BM girl was very unsettled by the "unfairness" related to cohanim. We spent a great deal of time discussing how being different isn't the same as unfair.

Cohava's approach to cohanim was simpler. "I am going to marry Binyamin (a boy in her class) because he is a cohen and is going to be a rabbi!"
The next day I mentioned it to Binyamin's mother. "Interesting," she said. "I didn't know he planned to be a rabbi. That is good. But I am not sure how he is going to become a cohen, since his father isn't one..."

After all of the laws of marriage, impurities, deformities, and mourning relating to a cohen, Emor describes all of the Chagim of the Torah and the mitzvah of counting the Omer. The variety in Chagim is quite special. Rav Kook famously explained that there are 613 so everyone has a mitzvah they truly love, embrace, and embody. I think the variety in Yamim Tovim serve the same purpose. Everyone has their favorite holiday and their favorite components of each chag.

For our weekly project, we made an Omer counter. Husband wandered in the room while we were hard at work. "Umm, you know we are more than half way through," he remarked.
"Yes, Abba. Today is 30," Cohava replied, barely looking up from her work. The girls count the omer every night with a scroll counter from the Olivewood Factory. My objective in this project had less to do with the mitzvot of the Omer and more to do with teaching numeracy.

I cut 13 pieces of construction paper in quarters, found a cheap carabiner clip, and a whole punch. The girls got their markers and they got to work.
"I will do 1!" Cohava announced.
"I've got 2!" Gabi added. And so it went. With Cohava the focus was writing in the right direction. With Gabi it was number formation. They both practiced ordering.

Once all the numbers were written, the girls had to sort them into the right order. Again, this is a very important numeracy skill. Once all the numbers were in order, each girl made a picture of Matan Torah for Shavuot. 
Then hole punching began. If I really wanted to preserve the project the papers would need laminating, but with only a few weeks left, I think this will be fine. I slid the papers onto the carabiner. Our counter does not include weeks and days, but the girls worked hard on early maths skills. In a few years they can practice dividing by 7. 
Shabbat Shalom and Happy Counting!

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