Tuesday, April 9, 2013

rashi hiatus

the rashi complaining has been starting up again.  maybe it was a little before pesach, but certainly since pesach.  the complaints have been getting louder, more vitriolic, more emotional.  chana's been complaining that she hates chumash.  then she amends it--it's not chumash, it's rashi.  so many rashis.  so hard.  she haaaaates it.  etc. it's affecting her attitude towards chumash.  she dreads it.

am i pushing too hard on the rashis?  i think she's capable.  i don't think we are doing too much.  we have been doing a lot.  the rashis are long.  not overly complex language, but not simple.  the concepts are meaty.  (add to that the pesukim are really breaking our teeth just figuring out pshat.)

so after fielding numerous complaints about this, and having chumash often turn into the "please stop yelling at me" "but you're speaking with a short temper too" "that's because you're yelling at me" "that's because i'm frustrated that it's so much and so hard" back and forth that is so unpleasant (though bh we are getting pretty good at disentangling from it), when chana started in today, i decided that since mishpatim is taking us so long to hack our way through, we will not do any more rashi here.  IF we need the rashi to explain a concept, i will explain it to her outside, and she will not have to go back and review it for translation, vocab, structure of concepts, etc.  (there IS a lot going on in these rashis!)

so we'll be doing rashi "outside" for now.  we can focus on the pesukim.  burden is still on me to figure out the pshat of the pesukim, but i'll just use rashi to explain anything i want explained to her.  hopefully this will make things less painful.

also, i'm beginning to feel the pinch of time constraints.  one of the things i adore about homeschool is that there are no time constraints.  since you have hours and hours, months and month, years and years, you can go at your own pace and not worry about "supposed to be up to"s.

chana has probably 2 yrs and 2 months left to homeschool (though she is perfectly willing to continue chumash throughout the summer, she is going to sleepaway camp).  i would love to finish going through chamisha chumshei torah with her.  we are only halfway through shmos.

chana may actually be right that if i drop rashi, it will be much easier to get through the pesukim.  on the other hand, her rashi skills are coming along nicely and i don't want to drop that.  maybe a compromise, where we do rashi separately?  or i select fewer rashis and we do them at a different time and not with chumash?  that always feels strange to me, as rashi is to be learned with chumash.  maybe just fewer rashis.  i will have to give this some thought.

i really dislike teaching for some end goal (finishing x in a certain amount of time) instead of going at a natural pace.

ps chana asked a few times what do all these pesukim have to do with real life.  as soon as we switched "sheep" "oxes" and "goats" for "her ipad that she saved up for and bought with her own money," things became very clear to her.


  1. Jessie, just curious why you picked Rashi as the peyrush to do alongside Chumash? I myself get frustrated doing Rashi as he is very midrashic and difficult to use to get the "bigger picture" of whats going on in the Chumash story. I just listened to an amazing shiur from Rabbi Maroof that explains the difference between sephardic and ashkenazic commentators that sheds light on Chana's (and my) difficulties finding meaning using Rashi exclusively - link below.


  2. your excellent question made me realized how much, no matter how many years i've been involved in alternative education, i'm still tied to the way it's always been done.
    i began teaching rashi because i wanted my children to have a high level judaic studies education. i patterned my curriculum after my elementary school and what the prerequisites are for the high school i went to, which was a very academically rigorous high school. rashi is generally acknowledged as the simplest to translate (though not necessarily to understand conceptually) and i work with chana on rashis because i want her to be dextrous in reading and translating mefarshim in general.

    i almost exclusively choose rashis that aid in understanding the pshat (though once in a while chana asks a question that shows me that rashi isn't really elucidating the pshat in a particular rashi).

    i think she finds it hard because acquiring skills in mefarshim is difficult. the reading of the strange letters, reading without nekudos, translating, decoding, and then understanding the concepts is a lot of work for the average 11 year old.

    thanks for the link. i look forward to discussing it with you after i watch it.

  3. Yes, it appears we are all tied to the way its always been done, in learning and everything else, until we re-asses what is self-evident.