Friday, 27 June 2014

Chukat Beyond Understanding

Two years ago when I wrote about Chukat the girls focused on the death (and life) of Miriam and Moshe hitting the rock.  Last year we discussed using our words and not our hands in times of anger and frustration. I felt this year We should branch out and look at more elements of the perasha.

I started by explaining the word chok, (from Chukat) how some things God commands are 
completely beyond our understanding and reasoning but we do them because He commands them. (I didn't actually discuss the para aduma/red heifer because that will be next year).
We reviewed the passing of Miriam and the midrashic connection between her well and the complaining for water. The girls enjoyed taking terms reading the Hebrew.

Later in the day we discussed the scenario with the snakes. Hashem sends a plague of poisonous 
snakes and Bnei Yisrael are dying from them.  Moshe beseeches God and He instructs 
Moshe to construct a snake from copper and place it on a stick. When the Israelites gaze upon this structure they are cured.
"Girls, I'll be honest. I don't understand what is going on here. Why the snakes? Why the copper one?
  Do you have any ideas?"
"Ema, it is a chok! It is in this parasha because we cannot understand it. And we don't need to understand. HaShem does and that is enough," Gabi explained. Yet again I am 
rendered speechless by  her insights. 

I cannot get the pictures to format at all so I will just describe the rest and you can decide how the pictures correlate.  Gabi and Ruti took cups, filled them with rocks, got a stick and 
secretly put water in. They pretended they were Moshe. (Really Gabi did it and Ruti joined in on stick, rock, water fun). 

Then we painted paper plates. One plate we cover in copper glitter. When they dried we cut them around to turn the plate into a coil. Googley eyes and red foam turned coil into snake. 

Hopefully we will put on a play with camp (we are at Sephardic Adventure Camp right now) with the snakes.  

Shabbat shalom!!!

Friday, 20 June 2014

Korach's Self-Worth

Parashat Korach recounts Korach's attempts at mutiny. His jealousy over the leadership is met harshly, with the earth opening and swallowing him, his family, and his possessions whole.  The miraculous punishment is harder to relate to today, but jealousy is just as all-consuming of an emotion today as it was in antiquity. 
Each year when this parasha roles around I discuss jealousy with my girls. I wish the lesson were more effective, as they struggle with jealousy a great deal. 

Riddle: How do you make a child with a lollipop sad?
Answer: Give their sibling two lollipops.

A big component of jealousy is not valuing yourself and what you have. In theory my kids understand this. Gabi remarked, "Korach was very poor." 
"No, actually he was very wealthy," my husband corrected her.
"No, but he wasn't rich, because umm- eze hu ashir..." Gabi clarified. She was citing the mishna in Perkei Avot which states, "Who is a rich man? He who is happy with his lot."

Our method for fighting jealousy is building self-worth, complimenting their talents and deeds. This week there was a talent show at school. This led to discussions on what is a talent and how can they be shown off. I thought this week's project should reflect them and their talents.  And then I looked and saw that is what we did last year. But neither the girls, nor I remember it (it was approaching the end of our time in Australia and that period is blurry.). The girls said, "We should make candied almonds!" Which is what we did two years ago. Along with these challot

In the end we improved on last year's project and made candied almonds.

After numerous discussions about our strengths, talents, gifts, personalities, etc., I had the (big) girls sit with pen and paper. They each had to write at least 5 things about themselves and 3 about their other sisters (we actually left Tova out. Next year, Baby.) I wrote a few for each of them as well. And then I typed up their lists (in different fonts and colors) and printed photos of the girls. I mounted their photos on cardstock the size of the picture frames while they cut out their talent lists. Ruti cut her own with great assistance from me. 
 Tova supervised. 
And then they glued the words around their photos. Glue sticks would have been easier. I put glue on Ruti's and she stuck them down. 

I think the results this year were more meaningful and better keepsakes. Hopefully with them hanging on the wall, a physical reminder of individual self-worth, we can work to better combat jealous. 

And if all else fails, I will enjoy the candied almonds!

Shabbat Shalom! 
May the holiness of this coming Shabbat bring back our boys!

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Shelach- Getting Gritty

Sorry for my brief hiatus. Behaatlotecha was too hard with Shavuot in the middle of the week. But last year we did a LOT so I don't think the girls are too deprived.

On Sunday we went to the zoo. When we got out of the car I started to laugh. 
"It is parashat Shelach this week, isn't it?" I asked, slightly incredulous. 
"Yes. So?" replied husband.
"Because we went to the zoo for parashat Shelach before. We made binoculars and spied out the land," Gabi replied. 

Gabi was right. And more amazing than the coincidental zoo visiting was Gabi's recollection. That was two years ago, the first parasha project we did, when she was only three years old! Clearly experiential parasha lessons have a big impact on one's memory. Last year's project was less memorable for them because it was doing something they do regularly. 

Year three for Kosherkidz! Happy anniversary to me! Now I am not after an exciting new project (okay, I am always after and exciting new project) but trying to give the girls a deeper understanding of the text or of themselves. 

We review the story of the spies. Gabi read the Hebrew for what Calev Ben Yefuneh & Yehoshua Ben Nun said about the land of Israel. Cohava read what the other's reported. (I was proud of their reading!)

"Did the spies lie?" I asked. Lying is a big theme. Like here
"Yes!" replied Gabi and the same moment Cohava yelled, "No!" We had a discussion about both points of view. 
"The 10 spies said the land was too dangerous and it wasn't so they lied," Gabi explained.
"No. They said what they saw and felt. There were giants. It was scary. They didn't think they could do it. It was all true," Cohava argued.

"You are both right. Gabi, they weren't telling a lie. They just didn't believe.  Cohava that was a good explanation. Let's say I take a big book off the shelf and ask you to read it. Can you do it?"
"No," Gabi replied.
"It would be really really hard," Cohava said timidly. They both eyed the bookshelf, wondering which massive tome I would pull down. 
"Maybe you couldn't read it right now, but in a few years, you keep practicing reading and you will be able to read anything." 
I reminded Cohava of the monkey bars at school in Australia. Each day at recess she would attempt them. She came home proud when she reached the second rung. Then the third and so on. She proudly showed off the calluses forming on her hands from her on-going attempts. And then one day she made it! "Everyone cheered for me when I got across!" She glowed with pride in her accomplishment. And now she is a regular monkey on all such bars.

"It is called 'grit'. Even though somethign looks hard, you can do it. You have to push yourself and believe in yourself and Hashem and you WILL do it. But it isn't easy. Grit is sticking with something hard. The 10 spies didn't have enough grit and belief in Hashem. Do you?"

The girls enthusiastically agreed they did until we talked about things like bike riding without training wheels and they got a little hesitant. 

"What was the grittiest thing you did recently," I asked. The girls each explained challenges they faced in the classroom and how they overcame them. 

"When we stick with something and we succeed, how does it feel?"
"Should we reward our success?"
"Yeah, but I thought you said no more stickers for our chart."
"There are other rewards. What were bnei yisrael finally rewarded with when they got to Israel?"
"Umm, Israel!" Cohava was confused by the obvious.
"Yes, a land flowing with milk and honey," Gabi added.
"And the shivat haminim [seven species]," Cohava said.
"We aren't going to Israel any time too soon, but we can have the other things."
We filled a plate with dried figs, pomegranates, and raisins. I asked the girls why I just included those. Cohava said, "I know why but I want GIANT ones."

We got the milk and honey and heated them on the stove top. 
Then everyone sat down to enjoy warm milk&honey, and the fruit of the land. 
They enjoyed the food, but more importantly, I plan to reference back to this food and the lesson of grit as they struggle and doubt their abilities.

Of course grit isn't only for children. It is crucial for everyone. In honor of this parasha, try something challenging and prove your grit this week.

Shabbat Shalom!