Group Size: 10-55
Estimated Time: 45 minutes
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Goal: To examine the concept of z’chira as it derives from TaNaCH and how collective memory shapes us as a nation
Peula: You may want to get this together before Shabbat – the more preparation, the more fun
This game works well for all age groups, from first graders through Chevraya Bet
· Gather together approximately 25 to 30 small objects – anything from a toothbrush to a noodle to a matchbox car (make sure they are not muktza!) – and display them randomly on a tray or plate. Be creative and diversify!
· Bring along a napkin, scarf, plastic bag, hand-towel, or anything else that can be used to cover up the objects on the tray.
· Seat the kvutza in front of you and present the tray with its objects. (Do not leave the tray lying around within their sight before the peula begins – this should be the first time anyone gets to see the objects on the tray).
· Instruct the chanichim to look at the objects carefully, as they will be asked to recall as many of them as they are able. Make sure everyone in the kvutza gets to see the objects – but don’t let them look for too long – not more than 2 to 3 minutes
· After about 2 minutes, cover up the tray.
· Do something distracting for another 2 minutes – ask the chanichim to switch seats, to sing a song, to answer a few questions about the parasha… etc. This should not take up a significant amount of time or constitute too obvious a time lag – just long enough to break their concentration.
· Going around the circle, ask the chanichim individually to list as many objects as they can remember. How many are they able to recall? Is the entire kvutza together able to remember all the objects that were on the tray? (Assuming you display a sufficient number of diverse objects – 25 t0 30 – they will probably not be able to)
· Uncover the tray and present it a second time. This time, hold up each of the objects individually and ask the kvutza to name them aloud.
· Re-cover the tray and try the memory exercise again. Are the chanichim able to recall more of the objects after they have seen them a second time – and particularly after they have named them aloud? (Hopefully, yes)
· NOTE: If you are running this peula when it is not Shabbat, it works well to provide each chanich/a with a pencil and paper and ask them each to write down as many objects as they remember. Then go around the circle asking each chanich/a to read his/her list aloud. The advantage of this method is that the chanichim cannot remind each other.
Follow up questions:
· Why couldn’t the chanichim remember all of the objects after they had seen them the first time?
· Which objects stood out in their mind, i.e. which objects were easier to remember?
· Were there any objects that no-one could remember? Which ones?
· Was it easier to remember the objects on the second round, after they had been named aloud?
Sicha: (Modify according to age group)
· Chazal instituted the Shesh Z’chirot – the Six Remembrances – into our daily tfilah based on a suggestion of the Kabbalists that anyone who remembered these six things aloud every day would merit Olam HaBa.
· Are the chanichim familiar with this part of tfilah which comes after Aleinu and Shir Shel Yom? Can they name the Shesh Z’chirot? Why these six events?
· Each of the six events that we are instructed to remember is based on a pasuk in the Torah which specifically refers to z’chira – remembrance:
Yetziat Mitzrayim (the Exodus from
“L’maan tizkor yom tzetcha miMitztrayim kol yemei chayecha”
Ma’amad Har Sinai (the receiving of the Torah at Har Sinai): Devarim 4:19
“Rak hishamer lecha u’shmor et nafshecha meod pen tishkach et hadevarim asher rau einecha u’pen yasuru milevavecha kol yemei chayecha, v’hodatam l’vanecha u’livnei banecha. Yom asher amadeta lifnei Hashem Elokecha b’Chorev…asher yilmedun l’yira oti kol hayamim asher hem chayim al ha’adama, v’et bneihem yelameidun.”
Ma’aseh Amalek (the encounter with Amalek): Devarim 25
“Zachor et asher asah lecha Amalek baderech b’tzetchem miMitzrayim…”
Ma’aseh Miriam (Miriam’s speaking lashon ha’rah against her brother Moshe, for which she received Tzara’at – leprosy): Devarim 24:9
“Zachor et asher asa Hashem Elokecha l’Miryan baderech b’tzetchem miMitzrayim.”
Shabbat: Sh’mot 20:8
“Zachor et yom haShabbat lekadsho.”
Ma’aseh HaEgel (the Sin of the Golden Calf): Devarim 9:7
“Zechor al tishkach et asher hiktzafta et Hashem Elokecha bamidbar.”
· Why these six events (other than the fact that they all have psukim which mention z’chira)? Can the chanichim come up with any rationale which ties them together?
(Madrichim might want to look up the Shesh Zchirot in Siddur Otzar Tfilot or in the Artscroll Siddur)
· What is the significance of these six events to our history as Am Yisrael? How do they constitute a collective memory for us as a nation?
· Does every nation have a set of collective memories? Ask the chanichim to think of key events in the history of the United States (or Canada!) and how the country “remembers” them – e.g. the Fourth of July, Washington’s Birthday, Lincoln’s Birthday – and more recently, Martin Luther King Day, etc. How else does the country “remember” these events?
· Do other groups besides nations and countries have collective memories? Ask the chanichim to share some “family history” anecdotes. Why are these stories important to their family? How do they contribute to their family’s identity?
· According to Chazal, we are supposed to remember Yetziat Mitzrayim aloud during the Shesh Z’chirot part of tfilah even though we have already “remembered” that event twice in Kriat Sh’ma – why?
· According to Chazal we are required to read Parshat Amalek once a year – on the Shabbat before Purim – even though we read it every year anyway, on the Shabbat of Parashat Ki Tetzeh at the end of the summer – why?
(Parashat Amalek is considered a mitzvah d’oraitah and is one of the few times we are allowed to remove a Sefer Torah from the Beit K’neset and bring it to someone’s house who is sick to read, and even to a jail to read if someone is imprisoned there and unable to come to shul!)
· With regard to Parashat Amalek, Chazal teach us:
“Lo Tishkach” = z’chira shebalev – memory in the heart
“Zachor” = z’chira sheb’peh – memory which is uttered aloud
· Why is there such an emphasis on remembering these events out loud? (Think back to the peula – was it easier to remember the objects after they had been described aloud?)