This year Gabi wanted to make bikkurim, baskets of first fruits to bring to the Kohanim in the Beit Hamikdash.
"And the baskets will be beautiful, with sparkles. And everyone will be wearing purples keters [crowns]..." she began describing her plans. I love her enthusiasm! Making pretty baskets certainly avoids the very heavy tochecha, the rebuke described in the lengthy sixth aliyah.
But I wanted to teach the girls something which has a impact on their daily lives.
Every day we [should] make brachot. And whenever we hear a bracha we [should] say 'amen'. The word 'amen' is very significant. In the gemara (Brachot 53b), it says that answering 'amen' to a bracha is even greater than actually saying the bracha. Devarim Raba states that nothing is more precious to Hashem than the answering of amen. There was a book written a few years ago, Just One Word, with trues stories of the impact of saying amen, with an excerpt here.
We have know that 'amen' is important, but it is actually only in the Torah fourteen times. Twelve of those are in this weeks parasha. Those twelve times, the entire Jewish nation is uttering the word together. Pretty powerful.
I thought about making something for the project, like this:
It is pretty, made out of a spoon (connected to eating), you wear it and look at it...
But 'amen' needs to be a constant. Not just a pretty box for bikkurim once a year, or a nice bracelet you might misplace. A physical project does not do it justice.
The goal this week was a refresher in saying brachot nicely.
Before I eat or have another opportunity to make a bracha, I stop, concentrate, and make the bracha nicely and loud enough for everyone around to hear and say amen. This isn't something special for Ki Tavo. It should be a constant, but this parasha is serving as a reminder for me. When the girls do not say a bracha, I remind them by saying something like, "I am sad that I didn't get to say amen. Can you please give me the chance to say it?" And they appreciate it a lot more than, "Where is your bracha?"
Cohava likes to report at dinner how many brachot she made that day, and how many times she said 'amen'.
While I was explaining the importance of 'amen', Ruti began saying 'amen' over and over. I went to capture it on film but I was too late. So Cohava made up a bracha for Ruti to reply to. Ruti cannot make brachot yet, but is very enthusiastic about saying "amen!"
I'll get better at this video thing soon. :)