Importance Of Names
Group Size: 20-30
Estimated Time: 45 minutes
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To become familiar with Rabbi Akiva and to understand the reasons that the úðåòä is names after him, and to understand the importance of names in general.
1. Question / answer cards for the Rabbi Akiva quiz game
2. Rabbi Akiva and Rachel costumes
3. The monologue of Rabbi Akiva – the 2 stories about his life
4. The paragraph by Yechiel Eliash
Our úðåòä has a slogan and it also has a name that is an important part it. Who is the person that the úðåòä is named after and why was he picked over all the other personalities of his time?
Sit the Chanichim in a circle and ask each one of them why their parents specifically picked the name that they have. After you have gone around the circle one time asks the kids the following question:
Why are we given names to begin with, what is so important? And do you like your name and feel that you represent it. (ie. Aryeh = lion?)
Step Two – this week's Parsha:
"à åÀàÅìÌÆä, ùÑÀîåÉú áÌÀðÅé éÄùÒÀøÈàÅì, äÇáÌÈàÄéí, îÄöÀøÈéÀîÈä: àÅú éÇòÂ÷Éá, àÄéùÑ åÌáÅéúåÉ áÌÈàåÌ. á øÀàåÌáÅï ùÑÄîÀòåÉï, ìÅåÄé åÄéäåÌãÈä. â éÄùÌÒÈùëÈø æÀáåÌìËï, åÌáÄðÀéÈîÄï. ã ãÌÈï åÀðÇôÀúÌÈìÄé, âÌÈã åÀàÈùÑÅø"
Sefer Shemot begins with all the names of the tribes that came down to
By the same token when one does not use his abilities, and expose his potential talents it is called "shemama," "desolation," also related to the word "Shem," or name, except that in this case it is when one fails to tap the latent abilities.
One way that G-d conveys His love for us is by comparing us to stars and showing us that we count and have a unique and individual purpose.
Step 3: The importance of being Rabbi Akiva and why we are named after him:
Game – Split the kids into groups and tell them to come up with a new name for a youth group that will represent it in a positive way.
Tell them that if they were having difficulty picking a name to represent a group of 10 kids how would Yechiel Eliash have felt when he started the Tnua long ago. Yechiel knew that the Tnua was going to be huge. He knew it would eventually include 100,000 kids all over the world. So with the helped of a man named Avraham Constenbaum he picked the name Bnei Akiva. But why specifically Rabbi Akiva -- there are plenty of other rabbis who Yechiel could have named the Tnua after but he decided on Rabbi Akiva, because rabbi Akiva was much more than just a Talmid Chacham.
Just in case the Chanichim aren’t familiar with the story of Rabbi Akiva we will play a quick game:
Give each Chanich a card with either a question or an answer on it. Say go and the chanichim will have to run around and find the other person (if they have a question they need to find the answer and vice versa).
After they do that, a madrich (dressed like Rabbi Akiva) needs to get up and tell the following story. The story is being told by Rabbi Akiva in first person:
Don’t look at me like that…Today I may look like a respected, important person. Yes, Baruch Hashem I managed to bring up 24,000 Talmidai Chachamim in Am Yisrael, but until age 40, I was a regular, plain kind of person, I was a dunce. I couldn’t read, I couldn’t write, I didn’t even know what Torah was.
Yeah, a person can go through a lot in his life. The truth is I loved nature. I would wonder around with Kalba Savua’s flocks of sheep, enjoying myself, I didn’t need more then that. How did my life change? Ah… that is thanks to my wonderful wife Rachel. She says that she took one look at me, and saw that I had great qualities… I’m not so comfortable saying this out loud, but if you asked… and we’re all friends… but that’s what she said, she saw I was great and modest. She asked me if I would marry her, but she had a condition- if we get married, I must go learn Torah in the Bet Midrash.
I agreed. We did everything secretly without her father, Kalba Savua, knowing about it. But as you know, things like that don’t stay a secret for long, and when he found out about the wedding, he kicked Rachel out of the house and said she was cut out of his will. You must understand that Kalba Savua was a very wealthy man, and we really didn’t get a Villa or Penthouse apartment, we lived in a barn.
I, of course, had to keep my promise to Rachel, so I went to learn Torah for 12 years. Don’t think it was easy, learning Torah is hard work… but like I said I love nature. In difficult times I would outside to get some fresh air. One time I was standing near the well and I noticed a rock with a very strange shape. I asked myself- “wow, how did that happen in nature?” Suddenly I noticed that drops of water that were dripping constantly onto the rock, were causing the weird shape. I immediately remembered that the Torah is compared to water. I said to myself- “Is my heart harder then stone? If water can penetrate stone, Torah can penetrate my heart. I will go learn one Parasha in the Torah”. That is what I did, stage after stage, until Baruch Hashem I became who I am today.
Rabban Gamliel, Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah, Rabbi Yehoshua and Rabbi Akiva came to the ruins of Yerushalayim after the first temple had been destroyed. Immediately upon reaching Har HaTzofim and seeing the destruction they tore their clothes. The Rabbis proceeded in silence from Har HaTzofim to Har HaBayit, and during those 30 minutes or so Rabbi Akiva had some time to think.
Imagine how Rabbi Akiva must have felt: he had seen the Beit HaMikdash before in all its glory and is now seeing it burnt to the ground. The Bar Kochba rebellion is over, with
The Rabbis reach the place where the Kodesh HaKodashim once stood. They saw a fox coming out of the Kodesh HaKodashim and all broke down and cried except for Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Akiva, the same guy who has lost everything is smiling and laughing now instead of crying. The three rabbis turned to him and said “Akiva, why are you laughing?” He responded, “Why are you crying.” The Rabbis answered him and said here is the holiest place on the earth, a place about which was once said “and a stranger who enters shall die” and now foxes are walking through it, and we shouldn’t cry. Rabbi Akiva said, “That is why I am laughing.” It says in éùòéäå that the prophets Oriyah and Zecharia will be together. But that is impossible since the prophecy of Oriyah was in the time of Bayit Rishon and the one of Zecharia talked about Bayit Sheini. In Oriyah it says that “Yerushalayim will be like a forest (ie. Foxes will walk on it) and it Zecharia it says that “once again people will sit in the streets of Yerushalayim” (a reference to the rebuilding). And until this day I was worried that the propechy of Zecharia would not be able to take place because the prophecy of Oriyah never happened. But now, that there are foxes walking on Har HaBayit I can say for certain that the temple will surely be rebuilt, and that is why I am laughing. The other Rabbis replied “Akiva, you have comforted us! Akiva, you have comforted us!”
Rabbi Akiva was able to look towards the future and see that it will all eventually be better.
Before reading the final story, go around the circle and ask the kids why, after hearing both of those stories, our movement is named after Rabbi Akiva? What did he do that was so special?
Yechiel Eliash, the founder of áðé ò÷éáà said the following: All the members gathered together and each threw out a name. From all the suggestions that came up the one of Avraham Costenbaum caught our eye. He suggested that this new movement be called Bnei Akiva.
Rabbi Akiva symbolized in our eyes, more than any other rabbi, this idea of Torah Ve’Avoda. He was a worker, a shepherd, a national warrior, and also a Talmid Chacham. He dedicated his life to Torah and Halacha. After the war of Bar Kochba there were no great Talmidei Chachamin left except for Rabbi Akiva and that is why it says
"ëìäå àìéáà ãøáé ò÷éáà" that all the Torah that we have today is because Rabbi Akiva kept the îñåøä going after the war had ended. Rabbi Akiva was not only a tremendous Talmid Chacham, he was also an incredible leader.
We are the students of Rabbi Akiva –
WE ARE BNEI AKIVA!