Tuesday, June 14, 2016

erev shavuos learning

Normally, I'm a big proponent of: NEVER, ever, ever try to teach on erev yontif.

Erev Yontif can be stressful.  There is a time crunch.  There is a lot to do.  There are huge meals, fancy meals, possibly company.  The kids in theory should be bathed ;-).  house straightened etc etc etc.  No good ever comes from feeling that you want to get that math lesson done or those couple of pesukim covered.  I sit down tense, the kids sense my mood, and it all spirals downhill from there.  Just let school go and be pleasant.

And yet I found I really wanted to carve out a half hour of my day erev Shavuos to learn some Torah with Chana.  My cooking was under control (since I was planning to do half the cooking on the chag) and it's a looooooong day.

There were a couple of things I wanted to do with her that I felt were Shavuos themed.  One was a blog post by Kol ha'Seridim which translated the Rambam's understanding of the twofold objective of Torah.  To help human beings understand truth, and for human beings to be in society/physical situation where they have the ability and peace of mind to seek truth.

We read through it and I think Chana liked it and could relate to those two things being ideal goals for mankind and to see how Torah attempts to do that.

The second thing I wanted to do with Chana was some sources on a source sheet that I got over email.  It was for a shiur that I couldn't attend because Chana and I were at a concert on palindromes and music.  It was Yirmiyahu 23:29

הֲל֨וֹא כֹ֧ה דְבָרִ֛י כָּאֵ֖שׁ נְאֻם־יְקֹוָ֑ק וּכְפַטִּ֖ישׁ יְפֹ֥צֵֽץ סָֽלַע:

that the words of Hashem are like a fire and like a hammer that splits a boulder. And the gemara Sanhedrin 34a that explains this pasuk as one pasuk having many ideas.  And the pasuk from Tehilim

אחת דבר אלהים שתים זו שמעתי

meaning that we hear one pasuk but it means many.

I've brought up many times that there is a lot of vagueness in pesukim and that words, phrases, and pesukim can have layers of meaning, more than one meaning, opposite meanings.  And that the vagueness leaves room for many interpretations.  I think it was nice for her to see that Chazal explicitly say this.  That it is part of our official Torah she'baal peh that things have more than one meaning, which leads to the richness and infinite depth and possibility in Torah.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

erev erev shavuos

I made menus, but have I cooked for the 3 day yontif?  I have not.  Shopping isn't complete, either.  Tomorrow is a loooong Friday and I will be cooking on the chag.  I have to choose between being tense pre-chag but having things done beforehand, or not having so much to do pre-chag but then cooking a lot on the chag.  Different years I make different choices.  Pros and cons to both.

So today I was out all day.  Proctoring, teacher's meeting (I know I'm a homeschooler but I teach one chumash class a day at the local girls' high school and today it took up all day).  Then I came home and the shoes I had ordered for Aharon were too small so I took him to buy more shoes.  Luckily both Sarah and Chana were around all day so I had childcare.

My plan was to work with Chana at 7pm.  Chana came down at about 7:10, and then things were happening, and we started at 7:25.  Aharon is supposed to start bedtime routine at 7:30 because every night for the last month he's been crying himself to sleep and bedtime consists of him completely losing his shiz.  But tonight I'm trying to get in Bio, TSBP (Rambam on lashon hara but we moved into the next batch of interpersonal halachos in the perek), and I recently picked up Rambam's intro to the Talmud which is a short blue book with his understanding of a lot of parts of torah she baal peh so I figured let's see if Chana finds it interesting and we've only read about 4 pages but so far so good.  And I wanted to do Animal Farm.

In the middle of this, it turns out that my darling husband fed himself dinner and went to shiur, which is great.  But he ate the pasta Elazar asked for and then there wasn't any.  My sister, who is visiting for Shavuos, was kind enough to make him dinner.  And I was in the middle of making chicken and rice for Chana and Jack.

So I'm trying to make dinner, trying to teach Chana, trying to put Aharon to bed, would love to get started on Shavuos cooking but folks, that just ain't happening tonight.  I got through some of Chana's work.  I got through dinner and Jack dropped his chicken on the table, the chair, and the floor.  I told him to clean it up and went to put Aharon to bed.

Bedtime went well.  Aharon (5) asked to read The Carrot Seed because he can read it himself.  He also asked to do aleph beis.  He hasn't made huge progress.  He knows about 6 of the letters.  But it was nice sitting with him.  Then when I said it's time for bed, the screaming began and he cried himself to sleep.

I'd still like to read Animal Farm with Chana.  I'd like to clean up the table.  Forget cooking.  Oh, and I forgot to eat dinner.  And the only reason I didn't lose my cool this evening is because my sister rescued me.

Friday, June 3, 2016

9th grade chinuch curriculum

I'm reading a blog post and I think this quote highlights something that I'm having trouble with in Chana's chinuch curriculum.

The Jewish educator violates [important chinuch principles] by educational methods which...Try to do the impossible — namely, to give the students genuine possession of the truth without ever really perplexing them first by the problems or issues which the truth resolves — and this requires a vital experience of error, for genuine perplexity is usually killed along with the dummy opponents who have been made into straw men for quick demolition. 

Chinuch goals:

Love of Torah
Love of learning
Commitment to Halacha
Ability to read and understand text
Desire to read and understand text
Mastery of mefarshim
Ability to think deeply about pesukim
Torah Shebaal Peh

Right now our chinuch consists of sitting down together every day.  I choose a topic and we do it until she wants to stop.  Some days I choose more hashkafa oriented topics (like ben sorer umoreh) and some days I choose more bekius oriented topics (right now we are going through some of my source booklets from high school on ben adam l'chavero mitzvos), and some days I choose more text oriented topics like a Ramban.  It's haphazard more than organized because Chana's interest varies and I have a bunch of different goals I want to match what we do to her intellectual and emotional moods and also to focus on different skills and areas.

I think her Chumash class experience in high school turned her off to Chumash. We did the Mara story with mefarshim last month (I think we got a nice mix of skills and analysis and enjoyment of major questions and understanding of the story in the overall perspective of Chumash) and she didn't mind that.  But when I wanted to do other parts of Shmos (since that is the book she was learning) she resisted strongly.

I am finding that preparing for learning with her serves me better than being unprepared.  It's better if I have a list of mefarshim that I want to do and if I already know what all the words mean.  She loses interest and patience if I look things up while she is sitting there.  (Which reminds me to look up translations of Pesachim 113 and 118 on lashon hara because there are a couple of Aramaic phrases I don't understand.)

But back to that paragraph I started with, I think that it has been difficult for me to perplex her with problems or issues that the truth of Torah resolves.  She thinks a lot and has often already thought about perplexities and has a theory about them.  So she is not really feeling the question.  And she is not finding that the Torah is truth that resolves existential conflicts.  Something to think about.