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.