How And Why Do We Daven? - Rosh Hashana

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Resource Type: Peula in: English
Age: 9-11
Group Size: 5-30
Estimated Time: 90 minutes

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Resource Goal
To teach a little about why, when and how we say tefila

Required Props & Materials

song sheets or Tehillim are optional for the song

Resource Contents

Game 1: Tag Variation

The game plays like a normal version of Tag, with one person being IT and trying to tag the other players in the game. Instead of there being a safe base, in order to escape being tagged a player has to stop and say the words to a part of tefila (other than Shmone Esrei). You can only use a tefila once per game.

Discussion: The message here is very simple. When we need help, we say tefilot and cry out to Hashem. Which specific tefilot do we say when we need help? Many people say Tehilim when they feel in need.

Song: If you feel that it will work with your kvutza, you may choose to teach them a nice song from Tehilim or another part of tefila. This probably wont work with every kvutza, so you must use your discretion. The songs Esa Einai El HeHarim or Tov Lehodot are suitable, as are many other seuda shlishit songs.

Game 2: Musical Chairs

Have each chanich set up a chair in a circle facing outwards. Choose one to read from Shema (or some other tefila). Take one chair away from the circle, so that there is one less chair than kids. Then have the chanich start reading. As long as he is reading, everyone walks around the circle. When he stops, they must sit down. Whoever doesnt have a chair at the end is out. Remove another chair so that these is one less chair than kids, and play another round, until one person is left.

Story: Baal Shem Tovs Prayer in the Forest

This story begins with the great Baal Shem Tov, who founded Hasidism a few hundred years ago in Eastern Europe. Once, the Baal Shem Tov heard of an awful disaster that threatened his people. He went to a certain place deep in the forest, where he used to meditate. There he lit a fire, and offered a special prayer, and the disaster was averted.

A generation later, the Baal Shem Tov's disciple, the Maggid of Mazrich, heard that a terrible misfortune again threatened the people. He too went deep into the forest. He said, "Master of the Universe, listen! I do not know how to light the fire, but I am still able to come this place, and to say the special prayer." So he prayed as the Baal Shem Tov had, and again disaster was prevented.

The years passed. It came time for Rabbi Moshe-Leib of Sasov to perform the same task. He went deep into the forest, and called out, "I can no longer light the fire, nor do I know the secret meditations belonging to the prayer. But I do know the place in the woods. This must be sufficient!" And it was sufficient, for the terrible misfortune did not take place.

Another generation; it was Rabbi Israel of Rizhyn's turn to protect his people. He gathered them around him and told the story of how once their great ancestor, the Baal Shem Tov, offered a special prayer and disaster was averted. Rabbi Israel didn't mention the forest or the fire, for he didn't know the details, nor did he know the words of the prayer. But, he said, "We can tell the story of what once was done, and that must be sufficient." And it was.

Discussion: Is it possible for a story to be a form of prayer? There is a similar story about an ignorant boy that goes to pray on Yom Kippur but doesnt know how, and instead recites the Aleph Bet out loud. The kids may also know this story and mention it. Why do we daven? Does Hashem need our tefilot? Chazal give us a specific way to daven because that is the best way for us to do it. But at the same time, if we just read words we dont understand in Hebrew, it is also a little empty. Talk with them about how to make their tefila more meaningful, reading it in English, asking for explanations, concentrating on what theyre saying.

Game 3: Red Light, Green Light

The Chanichim line up against one wall, and one person is picked to stand against the other wall. He turns his back to the group and says Aleinu LSheiach LAdon Hakol (instead of Red Light, Green Light, One, Two, Three). While his back is turned, everyone tries to approach him in order to tag him. However, when he finishes, he turns around, and anyone he sees moving has to go back to the beginning.

Discussion: During tefila, we have to try and clear our minds of all other things and concentrate on what were saying. Even though other things may be going on around us, we cant be distracted by them.

Also mention that this snif is part of a larger theme of Teshuva, Tefila, UTzedaka, that will be explored in future snifim, as well as during the week with other tochniyot.

Related Resources can be found under:

» All > Jewish Holidays > Rosh HaShanna

» All > Judaism > Keeping Mitzvot

» All > Judaism > Tefilla

» All > Judaism > Teshuva

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