Sunday, November 30, 2014

tefila cards: pesukim before and after amida

The pasuk we say before we start Amidah:

ה' שפתי תפתח ופי יגיד תהילתך

Hashem-- Open my lips
and my mouth will tell Your praise
תהלים נא:יז

  • Why do we ask Hashem to open our lips?  Can’t we praise Hashem without His help?
  • How does He open our lips?  He doesn’t control our speech--don’t we have free will?
  • How does it affect you to begin tefila by acknowledging that we even need help in order to daven properly?

The pasuk we say at the end of Amidah:

יִהְיוּ לְרָצוֹן אִמְרֵי פִי
וְהֶגְיוֹן לִבִּי
לְפָנֶיךָ ה' צוּרִי וְגֹאֲלִי.
May the utterings of my mouth
and the thoughts of my heart
be desirable
before You, 
Hashem, my Rock 
and my Redeemer
תהלים יט:טו

How does it benefit us to ponder whether or not our thoughts and words are something that is in line with Hashem’s ideals for the Jewish people and for humanity?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

tefila cards: elokai netzor

אלוקי נצור

This is adapted from what Gemara Brachos 17a says that Mar son of Ravina said after he finished davening:

💬 Why ask for this? Isn’t this our free will?  😯
אֱלֹקי נְצֹר לְשׁוֹנִי מֵרָע
My God: Guard my tongue from evil
💬 Same Q as above. 😯
😕What’s so bad about speaking falsehood?
וּשְׂפָתַי מִדַּבֵּר מִרְמָה
and [guard] my lips from speaking falsehood
😯 (this emoji keeps being relevant)
It’s SO hard to keep calm when people curse me.  I need help with this!
וְלִמְקַלְלַי נַפְשִׁי תִדֹּם
and to those who curse me, my soul should be silent
💬 But I want everyone to like me, not think I’m dust!
וְנַפְשִׁי כֶּעָפָר לַכֹּל תִּהְיֶה
and my soul should be like dust to everyone.
💘 Please make me open to what the Torah says
פְּתַח לִבִּי בְּתוֹרָתֶךָ
Open my heart to Your Torah
💬 I’ll do the mitzvos, but love them so much that I chase them?!
And how does davening for that make me like them more?
וְבמִצְוֹתֶיךָ תִּרְדֹּף נַפְשִׁי.
And my soul should chase Your mitzvos.

וְכָל-הַחושבים עָלַי רָעָה
And all who plan evil against me--
Yeah, no disagreement here
מְהֵרָה הָפֵר עֲצָתָם וְקַלְקֵל מַחְשְבוֹתָם
quickly break their plans and confuse their thoughts.
Really? How does helping me out help out Hashem’s reputation?
עֲשֵׂה לְמַעַן שְׁמֶךָ
Do it for the sake of Your name
*metaphor alert*
What is Hashem’s right hand and why does it need help?
עֲשֵׂה לְמַעַן יְמִינֶךָ
Do it for the sake of Your right hand
How does helping me out help out Hashem’s Torah?
עֲשֵׂה לְמַעַן תּוֹרָתֶךָ
Do it for the sake of Your Torah
How does helping me out help Hashem’s holiness? (Note we are telling Hashem to help us for Him, not for us… But Hashem has no needs..)
עֲשֵׂה לְמַעַן קְדֻשָּׁתֶךָ
Do it for the sake of Your holiness
Yeah! I always want to jump up and yell this.
לְמַעַן יֵחָלְצוּן יְדִידֶיךָ
הוֹשִׁיעָה יְמִינְךָ וַעֲנֵנִי
So that Your beloved ones will be rescued, let Your right hand save and Answer me!

tefila cards: Elokai Neshama

This isn't homeschool at all.  The principal in the high school I teach at asked me to make up some cards for students to peruse if they finish davening and are bored.  Hopefully we'll get some artistic students to illustrate them.  I just made my first card and I'm proud of it.  So I'll share them here for your printing pleasure, if anyone wants to use them.  This one is for Elokai Neshama

💬Why “MY” God? (vs. “our”)

💬 What makes a neshama “pure” or “tahor”?
אלה-י נשמה שנתת בי טהורה היא
My God: The Neshama you put in me is tahor
💬 What is the difference between “create” and “form”?
אתה בראתה,
אתה יצרתה
You created it
You formed it
💬 Hashem doesn’t breathe..
What’s the metaphor?
אתה נפחתה בי
You breathed it into me
💬 In what sense does Hashem guard our soul?
ואתה משמרה בקרבי
And You guard it inside of me
💀Pause to ponder your mortality
ואתה עתיד לטלה ממני
And in the future You will take it away from me
🙋 Ponder Techiyat HaMeitim (Resurrection of the Dead)
ולהחזירה בי לעתיד לבוא
And return it to me in the future

😍 Are you really?  
כל זמן שהנשמה בקרבי מודה אני
The whole time that the Neshama is inside me I am thankful..

💬 What is a “master of all works”?
לפניך ה' אלה-י ואלה- אבותי
רבון כל המעשים
..before You Hashem my God and God of my fathers

Master of all works
💬 What does it mean to be Lord of all souls?
אדון כל הנשמות.
Lord of all souls
Didn’t realize the ending was gruesome, did you?
Ponder Techiyat HaMeitim (Resurrection of the Dead) again
ברוך אתה ה' המחזיר נשמות לפגרים מתים
Blessed are You Hashem

Who returns souls to dead corpses

How does this set the tone for your day?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

al pi darko if you're ADHD

Elazar was determined to keep learning to read Ivrit.  He brought me the aleph bina and spent between 45 minutes to an hour finishing all the nekudos with the aleph beis (the next section is each letter of the aleph beis with different nekudos).  I personally was getting bored already but he didn't want to stop.

He got restless but he insisted on continuing.  He ended up reading while climbing on top of me.

Note that he's blurry because he's moving.

This happened between 5:15 and 6:15pm, known in many households as an unpleasant time of day.  The boys had already made themselves pita pizzas at about 4:30, according to their hunger, and Elazar asked to work.  Jack was so jealous that he first kept sitting on my lap and blocking Elazar.  I tried to give him lots of hugs while still allowing Elazar access to read what he was trying to read.  Eventually he ran off (after shutting the light so Elazar and I couldn't see, and then turning it back on when I told him to) and grabbed a workbook (one of the ones I was thinking about passing along because no one ever touches it) and one of the neighbor kids, who is 6, was helping him write and coaching him how to do it.  So both boys were diligently working.

What the boys are up to

Elazar is 7, in 2nd grade.  He recently picked up the aleph bina again and asked me to review the nekudos.  He remembered most of them.  I started the page with the kamatz with each letter of the aleph beis with a kamatz underneath it.  He immediately grasped the concept of blending and zipped through the page.  He forgot about 4 of the letters, which I told him.  Over the next couple of days, he did the patach and the tzeirei very easily.  He still needed reminders of the kaf/chaf and the pey today.

Elazar wants a laptop for a siyum present and asked what can he learn in order to get it.  He asked if he can learn to read.  I said I'll teach you to read, but a siyum is for limud Torah.

Regarding his English reading, he plays some board game and has been reading some of the cards.

Jack will be 5 next month.  He's been asking to write recently.  He's been writing his name and other things.  He mainly writes at night during bedtime, but he's recently started writing during the day a bit.  Ari took Jack and Elazar to Avos U'Banim learning on Motzei Shabbos and said Jack knew the aleph beis better than Elazar.  Jack still needs to learn the sofises before his siyum.  The siyum will be a selection of candy from Oh Nuts to share with the neighbors (also homeschoolers).

Aharon is 3.  The book by his bed is Aleph to Tav by Yaffa Ganz.  I bought it many years ago when Sarah was young.  We were just reading it every night when I realized that Aharon knew the aleph, so I tried teaching him the next letter.  He is now up to zayin.

This is unschooling and I only do "schoolwork" with them when they ask.  Months and months can go by with no reading or writing.  Elazar is on a reading streak now, but I can't even remember the last time he was interested.  (Actually, I can probably check this blog.  In July he did some English writing and in June he did a bit of English reading.  The last time he did Hebrew reading was May, which was 6 months ago.  And the time before that was... hey, last November.  About a year ago.)  So he learned the nekudos for about an hour almost a year ago.  Then 6 months ago he reviewed.  Then last week he became interested again.  And now he can read Hebrew (though at this point we've done only 3 of the nekudos officially).  So far he is still doing one letter + vowel sound.  I'm going to go through the book in order unless he requests otherwise (let's say, he might bring me a bentcher or a Chumash and ask me to help him read from there).  When I spoke to unschooling boys who were grown up about their limudei kodesh experiences, they assured me that when the time came to get ready for their bar mitzvas, they were interested in learning to read and to leyn and to daven.  In our family, I guess it isn't really left completely alone, insofar as we have lots of aleph beis games and puzzles and some posters up around the house.  And whenever the kids ask to go to the candy store I always say, "Sure! As soon as you learn your aleph beis we will have a siyum from there."  (#~AlfieKohn)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

It's fun learning with a teenager

We were doing the Rashi on Bamidbar 14:17 "Hashem erech apayim."

This refers to for tzadikim and for reshaim.  When Moshe went up to heaven, he found HKBH sitting and writing "Hashem is slow to anger."  Moshe said: for tzaddikim.  Hashem said: even for reshaim.  Moshe said: Reshaim should be destroyed!  HKBH said: by your life, you will need this thing.
When Israel sinned with the eigel and the meraglim, Moshe davened before Him with Erech Apayim.  HKBH said to him: did you say to me this is just for tzadikim?  Moshe said to Him: and didn't You say to me even for reshaim?


When Chana was reviewing this, when she read that Moshe said: "Reshaim should be destroyed!" she remarked that this seems out of character for Moshe.  He seems more the type to be praying on behalf of wicked people.

unschooling reversal

The other day Chana wanted to get Chumash done and I wanted to sit and relax.  She kept telling me to focus, to stop trying to go on the computer..  Then she wanted to do Rashi and I wanted a break.  I begged for a break and she really wanted to keep going.  So I started whining.  And wheedling.  And pleading.

She told me I shouldn't choose so many Rashis if I'm going to whine about it.

Which Tanachic character would you most like to meet?

Chana said she'd be pretty interested in talking to the Mekoshesh Eitzim (the wood gatherer who publicly broke Shabbos).  She said she thinks it takes a certain amount of guts to break Shabbos knowing there is going to be the death penalty.  What was the guy thinking about?  What motivated him?*

*I didn't tell her about Tzlofchad and the idea that he did it l'shem shamayim because I never understood that.  But maybe when we get to B'nos Tzlofchad I will.