Wednesday, September 28, 2011

rosh hashana

we reviewed sheni of vayetze. then shlishi the ones she did yesterday. then i wanted to do new pesukim. chana was arguing with me about how many (i ventured maybe 7) and i said i will put the timer on for 15 minutes. she began to argue that this is too much. i said it seems to me that 15 minutes is not too much for anything (though now that i'm thinking about it, perhaps 15 min of straight contractions or 15 min of bleeding copiously can be too much). and she said, i'm not used to that much. and i said, really, 15 minutes is not a large amount of time.

anyway, sach hakol she did 17 pesukim. after 7, she said she should have just done 7 pesukim. at that point we had over 8 or 9 minutes left and i reiterated that 15 min of chumash was not unreasonable.

most of the words were pretty simple. she got annoyed at me when i asked her to not just translate but to make sense of the pesukim. and she got annoyed at me when i asked her to translate the shoresh of the names of leah. she said, why do i have to? and i said, coz it's cool.
but i guess it's not that cool if i'm "forcing" her.

btw, her shoresh ability is improving. when she reviewed sheni, when she didn't know the word she was able to break down the shoresh and look at surrounding words to give her clues. it was nice.

now she's having a 20 min break before rashi. frankly, i would like a longer break. i may do that. i doubt she'll complain. i have to figure out which rashis to do.

on a rosh hashana note, i was thinking what i want for each of my children, and what i want in terms of my relationship with each one. ie where are my challenges and where do i need divine help. with chana, thankfully we are in a fairly amenable phase and not having too much conflict. i realized what i would like is for her to love and enjoy learning torah.

and that got me thinking about how this skill work is not so conducive to love of torah. or at least the way i'm doing it is not. as you know, i always go back and forth over this issue. do we push skills and figure it will not affect the love of learning, as long as learning is enjoyable in other venues (in which case i must make an effort to provide some of those other venues). or does every little drop affect the overall attitude? i guess these days i lean towards the first one.

i also was thinking about how what we daven for is both based on and also affects the future of our assessment of the situation. i assess my relationship with chana. i ask for things based on that understanding. and that act of standing before hashem and asking for that particular thing affects how i act in the future.

Monday, September 26, 2011

we did just sheni in the car on the way to ceramics. we did 4 new pesukim and fought about the last 3, even though they weren't that hard. chana has yet to do chazara (revi'i of toldos) and she says she'll do it later. i told her 7:30pm tonight is too late. i wonder if i should remind her or not. i'll ask her what she wants to do.

there are a lot of great, not too hard, pshat oriented rashis in vayetze, just as somebody on torch-d advised me. chana read through a couple with nekudos. i would like to do more, but she said it's not rashi day. apparently one day a week we do it more intensively.

Friday, September 23, 2011

google images

chana asked why the plishtim covered up avraham's wells if they could have used them. good q. r' hirsch does not address it. nor does a quick survey of mikraos gedolos.

google images are really valuable for showing pictures. we've used it for brimestone in sedom, fiery furnace and pillar of smoke in bris ben habesarim, dew in the brachos of eisav/yaakov, monument, and to show parsha ptucha and stuma.

chana zipped through shlishi of toldos. she resisted doing rishon of vayetze, since we are already up to sheni. but i think she needs more chazara. so we argued about that and i insisted, and her mood became dour. then we took a break before doing the 4 pesukim in rishon and the new pesukim, since she was getting bad-tempered. i put 10 min on the timer. then she got upset because for some reason she thought we were doing only 1 new pasuk. the one new pasuk had 3 new words, but the next 3 pesukim were easy so i wanted to do them. she fought that. i persisted again. she kind of cried a little but overall contained herself well. then i gave her another 10 min and we did rashi. she just read it and didn't translate it. even though i saw from the way she read that she needs a couple more sessions of translation, because she didn't pause at the right places which she would have done if she understood it. ("how do you know if she knows it if you don't give tests?")

all told i think chumash and rashi took about a half hour. but i didn't time it. calculating, i think it took about 45 min. when i asked chana, she said she felt like it took her 3 hrs.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

today is parkour. chana had a choice to do chumash in the car, but she chose to do it in the house. we tried to do it before jack woke up, but til teethbrushing and breakfast occurred, jack was already awake. but for a change he was happy to sit and feed himself breakfast, which kept him happy through chumash. today we reviewed rishon of vayetze. i gave chana the option of to herself or out loud. she chose to herself. we started with 2 rashis, since it's "rashi day" from the summer. we reviewed "i don't know the day of my death" and we did the rock one w/o nekudos. chana had some trouble with it but not terrible for the first day of no nekudos. she suggested we change rashi day to a day w/o parkour. then we did one new pasuk, because it was long and had at my count 2 words she didn't know and 1 word she didn't remember. it turns out it was 1 new word and 2 words she didn't remember. as soon as i said "crouch" she remembered that the camels were crouched. she saw the big rock and asked if hashem was going to take it off the well. won't she get a thrill when she finds out it's her hero, yaakov. did i mention yesterday that chana was in conflict about doing more because she is so excited to be in the part where yaakov meets his wives?

oh, and at one point chana and i stopped chumash and pantomimed wild piano playing to this song that elazar was listening to:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

chana negotiates

this morning chana was going out with bubby for a haircut. so i rushed through rashi (still doing w/ nekudos) and then i wanted to get done as much of chumash as we could. so she reviewed the pesukim and then did 3 more. then i wanted her to do chazara of rishon of toldos. but she asked if she could trade finishing up rishon of vayetze instead of doing rishon. i thought that was a fair trade; we'll chazer rishon of toldos tomorrow.

Friday, September 16, 2011


so i chose to do the famous rashi about the stones arguing over who would be the pillow of the tzadik. little known is that rashi first gives the pshat that yaakov took the stones to build himself a fortress because he was concerned about wild animals.

chana was astonished by this rashi. she looked at me like the world had gone mad. i said, do you think this happened?

she was reluctant to say it didn't (hashem changed all the rocks into one rock; after all, He certainly can). but she did say, "rocks don't speak." and i agreed.

i told her that rashi and chazal speak in riddles, and it's a riddle.

she asked me if i knew what the riddle means.

i said i have maybe a little bit of an idea. she pressed me. i said that if i wanted to help a tzadik and she wanted to help a tzadik, maybe hashem would help us do it together.

she frowned and said, "yes, but we aren't rocks."

she has a little way to go before she grasps the concept of metaphor. actually, i had a sheet that i used to illustrate the idea that i used to use for classes. maybe i'll see if i can dig that up.
ah, friday. homeschool is always a bit tough on a friday, especially if i have to cook and especially if i'm having company and especially especially if i'm having company for both meals. and especially especially especially if it's someone i never had over before (though i am determined to keep the menu low key). anyway, jack is a late sleeper and aharon is napping and elazar is busy. so it's a perfect time. for me. but we all know that chana does not like to work first thing in the morning.

so a bit of back and forth. we started vayetze. and then she'll have a break and then do shishi to herself. but first i hope to chap in a rashi if i can find a good one.

chana asked 2 excellent questions. first of all, how can hashem be standing on the ladder? i said it's a dream. she said, yes, but how does hashem represent himself in the dream with no form (not in exactly those words). does he make a malach represent him? but a malach not like the other malachim in the dream? (because she remembered that other times malachim carried a nevua, i think to hagar for example, and said "i am hashem.")

the other good question was more of a statement. when chana makes an observation, i often say, "good question." and she says, "it wasn't a question." but it sort of is. as she translated "i am the Gd of your father avraham" she muttered "and the Gd of everybody else." which is an implied question: why say specifically the Gd of avraham when hashem is the Gd of everybody?

i'm off to find a rashi now and to coax her to do it.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

ambiguous and redundant

today chana reviewed the beginning of shishi while she ate lunch, and asked me for the words. it went quickly and uneventfully.

then, after an hour break, we did shvi'i. i told her i think she knows all the words and if she does, we can move on to the new parsha tomorrow w/o reviewing shevi'i. she didn't know "eim" (mother) and "v'y'tzav" he commanded. she often doesn't know the word with the shoresh of command until i say "torah tziva lanu moshe." as soon as i begin that, she knows. i've also been working at having her identify the shoresh which she doesn't do nearly as naturally as sarah used to, and she's been having fewer bursts of anger about it. i felt like she knows eim and tziva even though she had some trouble with them in that context

then we did a very small rashi about rivka being the mother of eisav and yaakov and rashi says, "i don't know what this teaches me." chana appreciated that because she often complains about there being information that we already know (and pronouns that are ambiguous).
another day with no plans. i like these days. we did rashi: in the one w/o nekudos, the new rashi (only 8 words) and just a reading of "i don't know the day i'll die" which she whizzed through. time to find another rashi.

then we did the second half of shishi. now a half hour break while aharon snoozes and i take jack to playground. then i plan to do the first half of shishi. and i took a look at shvi'i and i think she knows all the words and it is short, so i hope chana will finish the parsha today. keep you posted.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

today was another day with no plans. i grabbed chana for rashi when aharon was napping, and she breezed through it and was surprised how short it was. perhaps tomorrow i'll have her do one more reading w/ nekudos and then move on to w/o.

then we were supposed to wait for jack to nap to do chumash, but til we (i) got to it, jack was awake. i wanted to finish shishi today, which we did. but she still needs a lot of the words. i have a feeling this is one of those sections of torah that will seem somewhat new to her when she does it when she's older. she is not quite grasping the subtleties of the brachos because she is wrestling with the translation.

when she read about yaakov not taking a wife from the daughters of k'naan, she started reviewing the story of k'naan being cursed. she remembered they took the blanket on the shoulder and walked backward to cover him. so although i'd bet she still doesn't know that "shechem" means shoulder, she remembers a lot of details from the story.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

today part II and III

we did it in 2 stages. 1. the 5 new pesukim and a 2o min break and then 2. the rashi.

chana asked 2 good questions: how did rivka know eisav hated yaakov, if it was in his heart? good. i had her read "ruach hakodesh" in rashi. and why would both of them die on the same day? also good. because that was the rashi i had intended for her.

she was a little bad-tempered during these 2 phases, but although her teeth were clenched she didn't raise her voice too badly. i saw she was making an effort to control herself.

so we did rashi phase one with the nekudos (and only half the rashi--8 words; i chose only the part that deals w/ pshat and not the medrash). she mostly translated it today and didn't really read it in hebrew. by the way, that's what she usually does. she doesn't really read the hebrew, just straight translates it. except when she doesn't know a word at first glance; then she reads it. so tomorrow will be emphasis on reading correctly, and another run at translation.

there are a lot of steps in rashi. aside from reading it correctly, she also has to translate the words, and then she has to understand the basic meaning of the rashi, and then she has to understand the commentary he is providing on the pasuk. it's a lot.

today part I

at least i hope it's part one and i'll have the oomph to finish up later. today was one of those days where i woke up with a to do list that was too long to keep inside my head. it was also one of those days where we had absolutely nothing scheduled. which chana really loves, so she can spend the day pursuing her projects (currently making littlest pet shop films and uploading them to youtube) and playing in the playground. ah, childhood.

i probably had a to-do list because i'm thinking of it as a catch up day. this is a bad day to go into homeschooling all together, because as many homeschoolers know, one of the rules of homeschooling is that if you're trying to do something else other than "being" w/ the kids with full mental and emotional presence, you're going to end up snappish.

naturally, jack, who is teething, was grabbing at me. elazar was doing not too terribly with a spray bottle and the hose and his trains. he is thankfully in a phase where he has a lot of activities that he likes to do around the house. jack, otoh, gets bored easily. so i decided a trip to the playground was in order, even though i really didn't want to go. so we did that. then i wanted to do chumash but chana said later. then i ended up making dr appts to go to the dr that day. we had about 1/2 an hour and i asked chana to do some chumash. she said she wanted to do it when i got back. i said, chana, you know how i always want to do it earlier and you always want to do it later, and then oftentimes later is not a good time and i get frustrated. indeed, she knew. she still wanted it later. i said next time it will be my turn to do it earlier.

sure enough, later came, and chana asked for 10 more minutes to finish her tv show. then it was only about 10 minutes until the time she likes to meet some friends in the playground. talk about crunching in chumash.

i told her to do shishi and to do it to herself, even though i am not sure she has a good enough grasp on these pesukim to follow the flow in her head w/o doing it out loud. it was going ok (insofar as she was asking me for the words she didn't remember; i am not sure she actually knew what she was reading but that's ok, at worst it was a chazara of words and she'll do it out loud tomorrow and i'll get a sense of where she is). she was asking questions about if hashem would have given eisav a bracha of wealth if it actually was eisav instead of yaakov. so she's still processing the issue and thinking about it, which is great.

as the clock crept towards the time she wanted to go out, she began to get angrier and angrier and her tone towards me got louder and more belligerent. i began to feel angry being spoken to that way. among the things i said to her were: "would you like me to yell at you like you are yelling at me?" (i think i said that more than once in different ways) and "i don't think it's fair that you pushed off doing chumash and now you are frustrated and you are yelling at me."

anyway, we took a break for her to play outside. and we have 5 new pesukim and one small new rashi to do today.

Monday, September 12, 2011

today chana translated the rashi. then we started with shishi. she did it nicely. then she did that last bit of chamishi. she still gets stuck on a about 5 or 6 words, but i have a feeling that she's going to be stuck on those for a while and it pays to just move on. i was reminded how much trouble she used to have with "your son" "his son" "his father" etc and happily she seems to have gotten a decent grip on that.

we did one new pasuk (we were doing all this in the car, which i love to do). then chana felt the second new pasuk was too hard and since i hadn't looked it over, i had her read it to me in hebrew and i said she could do it at home. which we did.

i think it's time to move on to the next rashi. she doesn't know a few words "shema" (lest), "hareni" (here i am--which i think she ought to know but she never does), "samuch" (close--she never remembers it), and maybe another one i can't remember offhand. but she learned some of the numerics of the letters (kuf = 100), and perek and da'ag. and she'll remember the concept and the general flow of the rashi. so overall it's a success.

i used to feel that i wanted her to get it 100%. why move on until she remembers all of it perfectly? but there is a point of diminishing returns in terms of her enjoyment. it's demoralizing to do the same thing over and over and it is interesting to the mind to do something new. so at this point, when i see those last few words that she keeps missing, i'm inclined to move on. even though the perfectionist in me wants to linger.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

good observations

chana asked if yaakov would have been rich if he would not have gotten the bracha.

she asked why yaakov said he was eisav "your bechor" when eisav had sold his "oldestness" to yaakov. i said it seems eisav still thought he had the bechora even though he sold it.

she said yaakov was being too nice in his impersonation because he said "get up please" and eisav didn't say please. i looked and sure enough she was right.

i did point out that eisav spoke in 3rd person to his father, which was extremely respectful, treating him like a king.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

chana gets annoyed by grammar such as "barcheni gam ani" which literally means "bless me also me." why does the pasuk say "me" twice? and i know she's going to get annoyed at the next pasuk when it says "and he said" and doesn't say who. she says that the torah puts extra pronouns in when they aren't necessary and then when you want to know, it leaves them out.

she was confused about the pasuk where yitzchak didn't know what happened but then said "gam baruch yehiyeh" without saying "yaakov did it."

luckily, we chapped rashi before i took the boys out this morning, so that was already done. she read it in the hard chumash and i translated it.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

a little vort

today i warned chana well in advance that when jack goes down for his nap, it's chumash time. instead of doing the entire chamishi (which is very long), we just reviewed the last bunch of pesukim that she needs a bit more work on. then we did yesterday's 2 pesukim, which, not surprisingly, she didn't remember too much of. though she did remember some. yesterday, btw, she said, "his cursers will be cursed and his blessers will be blessed... hmm... i know that already. where do i know that from?" and i said, "avraham."

(and that just reminded me that everyone always says that eisav got the money and yaakov got the bracha of avraham at a different time. but it seems like at least this portion of avraham's bracha "blessers will be blessed and cursers will be cursed" was supposed to be for eisav (had he merited), ie whoever is running the govt.)

chana remembered the part about being the prince over his brother, because we discussed that yesterday. which just goes to show you that context aids memory.

so for rashi, today was the big transfer to the other chumash. w/o nekudos. well, chana balked. and tried to wiggle out of it. but since i didn't overload her on translation, she hadn't hit saturation point and she didn't collapse when i insisted.

and seeing the difference between the rashi w/o nekudos and the one in the chumash we usually use, i am reminded again why i prefer the more difficult rashi. first of all, it had "amar rabbi" as an abbreviation. which chana dislikes, but i like her to see so that she'll know it. and it had the ages as hebrew letters "kuf kaf gimel" instead of written out. and less punctuation. all of which irked chana, but i prefer her to learn on that.

but i think it's been a nice method to start on the easier one, with everything all spelled out, and then to transition to the more difficult layout, after she's already familiar with it.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

i'm not sure what deal we made, but chana was supposed to do double chumash today. i traded the double chumash for one chumash and one rashi.

i did milim for chamishi, but she still had to do 7 pesukim reading and translating, and she ran out of steam and began whining. i only had her do 2 new pesukim because they are a bit complicated, but chana completely wound down by the second half of the second one and didn't want to do anymore. we wrangled back and forth and she finished it, but she didn't quite understand it and she didn't want me to review it.

we used google images to look up "dew." we had a bit of fun when chana realized that yitzchak thought he was telling eisav he was going to be a "gvir" over his brother, but he was actually telling yaakov. so chana asked, did yaakov end up a gvir just because of the bracha? but didn't hashem help him? i explained that it was a nevua. and hashem was letting yaakov know he was going to be a gvir, even though yitzchak thought he was telling eisav he would be the gvir.
chana wanted to know what it meant to be a gvir. i said if eisav was the gvir, then he would be in charge of running the country. but chana said they ended up being different countries. and i said yaakov's country would be in charge of eisav's country.

chana still didn't want to read rashi w/o nekudos (but i think either tomorrow or the day after we will attempt that). and she didn't want to translate it. but she was able to summarize extremely accurately the main points. there are a few words she won't remember, but that's ok.

Friday, September 2, 2011

another fine day. chana ate first. then we did milim. we are finally seeing the end of a very loooooong chamishi. chana noticed today that it says "yitzchak his father" when we already know it's his father. she is unclear why the voice is the voice of yaakov if (as per ramban) they had similar voices.

we did 4 new pesukim today. chana asked why yaakov wanted the bracha. why did he want wealth. why did eisav want to be part of the jewish ppl if he didn't want to keep the torah.

i just traded chana that i won't do chumash with her on sunday if she does the last pasuk in the aliyah and does our rashi. she agreed. she read and translated, and then read rashi again.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

what a difference a meal makes

today we didn't do chumash until after chana had ample play time in the morning, and she had eaten 2 plates of mac n cheese. also, i decided to just do spot word definitions. so i picked out a few words from revi'i, and words from chamishi until we got to the pesukim from yesterday and the day before. so she was in a fine mood. she asked why rivka had to dress yaakov and why couldn't he dress himself. her mouth opened wide when yaakov said he was eisav the bechor. she said, "ha! i knew it took too short!" when yitzchak asked yaakov why he was so quick. she asked what was going to happen when eisav finally came. i said she would find out. she asked when. i flipped two pages ahead. she is looking forward.

rashi: we did a rashi with the nekudos (it is too darn tempting to use those nekudos rather than have her hack through it w/o. i'm selling out on my principles). she had numerous questions on why a person would think about his own death within 5 yrs of his parents' deaths. i kept saying it's just the way a person feels. she said, "what if he didn't have time to think about his own death?" and i said he will think about it within 5 yrs of his parents' death. and she asked, "what about if the parent died in a car accident?" i still think a person would think about it. but i agree it's not as compelling as if they died from a disease or age.

after chana did it once, i told her to mentally prepare herself to be very angry and then let me know when she's ready. she took some deep breaths, closed the chumash and turned to look at me. i told her i'd like her to read that rashi 2 more times. she protested mildly, but then read it again. the second time was much better. she wanted to just do it next week, but i said too much time passes and it's too chopped up. then, for the 3rd time, i suggested that i read each phrase and she translate it. she said absolutely not. she'd much prefer to just read it again. i was delighted that she was so willing to read it a 3rd time. i asked her if she wanted me to translate each phrase, and she said yes. and that's how we did it.

i truly have to be more on top of rashi if i want her skills to improve, though. on the up side, i think she still remembers some of the rashis we have done last year.