Saturday, 13 April 2013

Watch your mouth! Tazria Metzora

Sorry for the long Pesach hiatus. One day I might post about our adventures, although I suspect parashat Tzav will never have a project.

This week is the double parshiot of Tazria and Metzora. They are read together during all non leap years (get ready for next year!) with the same topic dominating both: Tzaraat!  Tzaraat was a condition which appeared on the skin, clothing, or a house in response to a person's sin. It offered a physical manifestation so a person could witness the consequences of their actions.  Although the Torah does not state it explicitly in this parasha, lashon harah is considered one of the primary causes of Tzaraat.

Because Tzaraat is a challenging topic for children by itself, the connection to how we speak is an important tie in.

One day this week, Gabi complained about a rash on her leg.
"Gabi was speaking lashon hara. Now she has Tzaraat," Cohava announced.
"I think it is dry skin and she just needs some moisturizer," I countered.
"Nope, definitely tzaraat," Cohava argued.
Gabi stared at her leg. "It is red, not white. And you are not a Kohen. So I don't need to leave the house," she concluded. Amazingly, moisturizer cleared it up.

Explaining lashon hara to children is important, but not simple. We read Mr. Peabody's Apples by Madonna (yes, Madonna) which is a semi-modern take on the chassidic tale of opening the pillow. The illustrations are the best part of the book, but here you can hear the Material Girl reading her book.

The book is a good jumping off point of how we don't tell tales, true or otherwise, but barely scratches the surface of what lashon hara is really about. And one cannot get too involved in telling children about not speaking about others, without the important caveat of immediately reporting to an adult if someone touches you...

I was unsure of how thoroughly my girls understood lashon hara when I set off to create a parasha project.
 At K-Mart I found these toothbrush holders, which I decided were perfect. Big mouth, almost skin coloured, and only 20 cents each!

But I let the girls choose what to do with them.

"We could tape their mouths shut so they can't speak lashon hara," Cohava suggested.
"Or put things in their mouth," Gabi added. When they asked about the actual purpose of the containers and I demonstrated with toothbrush and paste, they wanted to maintain authenticity.

 Cohava decided hers would represent lashon hara, while Gabi chose lashon hatov.
They set to work with permanent markers. Cohava worked hard at making Tzaraat sores with a white-out pen and red stop signs. Gabi drew "happy pictures" all over hers.

They were proud of their results and discussed how they would remember not to speak lashon hara every morning and night when brushing teeth.

I still was unsure of how well they understood what is lashon hara. One day Gabi asked, "What are consequences?" so using a scenario we had seen involving other people, we discussed various consequences.
Gabi said, "Now I know what consequences are, but I think we are speaking lashon hara." She ran and got the new toothbrush holders and put them on the table.

If  you do not find these nifty holders at K-Mart, Cohava brought this home from school:
 Much simpler to make and also gets the point across.

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