Ibn Ezra - Rishonim
Group Size: 5-30
Estimated Time: 90 minutes
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To teach a little bit about the life of R. Avraham Ibn Ezra
- Towel (preferably red)
- Cut-out words (on flashcards)
- some blank flash cards
- straws or toothpicks
Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra lived in
Game 1: Magnetic Poetry
Last week we played Hodgie Podgie. This game is similar, but the words are given to you ahead of time, and you simply have to arrange them. Divide the teams into groups of about 5 people each. Give each team a set of words. Then ask them some funny/ridiculous questions, and explain to them that they have to write out an answer in poetry from the words. Perhaps you can give them a couple blanks (wildcards) to make it easier for them. Then, especially if the answers are strange, have them explain what the answers mean. Alternatively, if you feel that this is too hard, you can give each kid a word and have them find other people to team up with to make phrases (so that everyone kind of mills around trying to find people who have words that make sense with their’s). In addition, you can do the same thing as last week, and ask each group to give a perush (explanation) on their poetry, to fit in with Ibn Ezra's commentary.
Explanation: Besides being a great scholar, Ibn Ezra was also a poet, and composed many of the poems that we say in various parts of davening.
Game 2: Riddles:
Ibn Ezra had an extremely sharp mind. He would occasionally use riddles in his commentary. Break up into small groups (depending on how many madrichim there are). take 6 toothpicks or straws (or anything straight) and tell the kids that they have to arrange them into 8 triangles. The solution is a Magen David:
Game 3: Bullfighting: Cat and Mouse Variation
[I know this doesn’t have much to do with Ibn Ezra, but he did grow up in Spain and I feel we need a more active game after those past two slow ones.] This game plays like Cat and Mouse. A field is set up with 4 corners. 4 chanichim are picked to go in each corner, and two to go in the middle, one being the cat, the other the mouse. Only in our case, one will be the bullfighter, the other the bull. The bullfighter is given a towel to use. The Bull tries to get the towel. The Bullfighter runs around trying not to get caught. If s/he wants, s/he can go to a corner and hand off the towel to the chanich standing there, who then becomes the new bullfighter. If someone gets caught, the bull immediately becomes the bullfighter and a new chanich enters the game as the new bull. the old bullfighter goes to the end of the line.
Explanation: Ibn Ezra originally grew up in Spain, a place where bullfighting is big. Much like the people in the game, he was chased out and had to run to many different places (like the many different corners): England, France, Italy... so it’s a good time to make the point that Jews in the diaspora and not safe, they are only safe in Israel. Obviously, this is a point that you can be as vauge or explicit with, as you feel comfortable. But it is an important point to make.
Story: The Kuzari
Ibn Exra was a close friend of another famous Rabbi, R. Yehuda HaLevi, who wrote a famous book called the Kuzari. The following is the story within:
Once upon a time there was a king of a great kingdom in Western Russia, named King Bulan. His country was called Kuzariya. This king was a deeply religious man who believed in many gods. He spent a lot of time worshipping his idols. One night, in a dream, Hashem sent an angel which told him “Your desire to worship is good, but you aren’t doing it the right way.” King Bulan woke up deeply perterbed. What could the dream possibly mean? However, not understanding it, he simply ignored it. The next night, he had the same dream: “Your desire to worship is good, but you aren’t doing it the right way.” The next morning, the king was on a mission. He decided to explore different religions and discover which one made the most sense. First King Bulan called in a philosopher. The Philosopher explained thelogic he believed in, but King Bulan wasn’t satisfied by his astronomy and science. Next King Bulan brought in a Muslim leader. The Muslim explained to Bulan all his beliefs, but when he mentioned that Islam was based on Judaism, Bulan dismissed him. Then the king called in a Christian priest. The priest also began explaining Christianity, Bulan decided once again that it could not be right, because it was only based on Judaism. At first King Bulan had not even invited a Jewish Rabbi, because there were so few Jews in the world. However, after hearing that both Christianity and Islam were based on Judaism, he called in a Jew. After speaking with the Rabbi for many days, King Bulan was convinced. He and his entire nation converted to Judaism. For many years, a very large kingdom of Jews existed in Russia, powerful allies of the Byzantine Empire.
[It is very possible that these games will not be enough to fill up the full hour of time. So be prepared with another game, preferably thematic but not necessarily, just in case. (As a general rule, it’s always good to have an extra game in your pocket just in case you need it.)]