Bnei R Akiva
Group Size: 10-55
Estimated Time: 45 minutes
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This is the place!
Goal: To discuss why our tnua is named after Rabbi Akiva, to review the meaning
behind Bnei Akiva rites and rituals.
Peulah: You know your kvutza (e.g. whether they are active, contemplative, etc.) – select ONE of these peulot and adapt it as appropriate. You may be able to get through both peulot but more likely, one will take up the majority of your time, and you do want to save some time for going through and explaining the “rites” and “rituals”
Peulah A: (appropriate for younger chanichim)
· Split kvutza up into two groups, the “Jews” and the “enemies,” and send the groups to opposite sides of the room. Groups should spread out on their sides of the room as though they were army battalions preparing to infiltrate and capture enemy territory
· Create a “battlefield” in between the groups by overturning chairs, etc. (no need to be too elaborate)
· Have the chanichim in each group appoint a commander, a religious advisor, and a spy
· All soldiers in both groups are frozen until tapped on the shoulder by their commander – when the madrich issues army commands, the commander of the group addressed should walk over to the soldier of his/her and “un-freeze” him/her so that the command can be carried out. (This “freezing” and “un-freezing” will keep the game from getting too wild)
· Instruct chanichim to pay attention to the commands issued and to take note of particularly strange or unusual ones
· Madrich should stand to the side of the battlefield and issue commands:
- Captain of the enemy, send out a spy – instruct the spy to find out where the Jews are and report back
- Captain of the Jews, send out a spy – instruct the spy to find out where the enemy troops are and report back
- Captain of the enemy, consult your spy as to what plan of attack would be the most strategic
- Captain of the Jews, consult your religious advisor as to what plan of attack would be the wisest
- Captain of the enemy, have your troops advance four steps
- Captain of the Jews, have your troops advance two steps and take two steps to the side
Captain of the enemy, go out and give your troops a pep-talk
- Captain of the Jews, ask your religious advisor to go out and give your troops a pep-talk
- Etc. (as long as the kvutza is having fun)
(With each command given add a description as to whether the chanich should hop or skip, find a flag, etc. somehow make these activities fun and active)
· The unusual commands that the chanichim should be taking note of are those regarding the religious advisor of the “Jews”– why does the Captain of the Jews consult his religious advisor before making every move while the Captain of the enemy does not? What role does a religious advisor or a Rabbi play in making military decisions?
· This game was actually supposed to simulate the Bar Kochva revolt (2nd century C.E.) and the pivotal role that Rabbi Akiva played – although it is not usual for a rabbi to become intimately involved in the battles of a war or a revolt, Rabbi Akiva did, because he was intensely committed to Eretz Yisrael, even if it meant fighting, and because he believed that idealism must be carried out through action
· Why is Rabbi Akiva a good role model and namesake for our tnua?
· Discuss some of the ideals that Rabbi Akiva stood for (discuss how the peulah demonstrated these ideals) and the way they are incorporated into Bnei Akiva ideology today:
- commitment to Am Yisrael
- commitment to Eretz Yisrael
- commitment to Torat Yisrael (Rabbi Akiva was willing to risk his life at the hands of the Romans in order to continue teaching Torah)
- belief that Eretz Yisrael is essential to the existence of Am Yisrael and to the spread of Torat Yisrael
- importance of acting upon beliefs
· This is a perfect lead-in to a discussion of the tnua’s slogan, “Am Yisrael, B’Eretz Yisrael, Al Pi Torat Yisrael” – based on the preceding discussion of Rabbi Akiva and his ideals, why has this statement become our motto and why do we make such a big deal about announcing it at every mifkad?
· BA Rites and Rituals 20-Questions/Sicha – with Rabbi Akiva and BA slogan discussions in mind, have chanichim identify and come up with suggestions for the symbolism behind:
- Kachol v’lavan
- Elements of the BA semel (it might be a good idea to bring a visual aid):
- luchot with “tav” and “ayin” initials (symbol of Torah, “Torah V’Avodah initials)
- scythe and pitchfork (symbol of avodah)
- olive branch (symbol of peace)
- wheat sheaves (symbol of product of labor)
- Bnei Akiva ribbon (uniting, or tying all the symbols of the semel together)
Peula/Sicha B: (appropriate for older chanichim)
· Advance preparation required:
- Bring a canteen or cup of water for every two chanichim
- Provide every pair of chanichim with an envelope that contains the following quote from the Talmud:
The Talmud discusses the following case: Two are travelling on a journey [far away from civilization], and one has in his possession a pitcher of water. If [both] drink, then both will die, but if [only] one of them drinks, he will reach civilization. – Bava Metziah 62a
· Send each pair of chanichim off on their own to discuss the scenario for 15 minutes. Instruct the chanichim to go over the particulars of the situation, who they would chose to get the water, and why they would make that decision
· Get all the chanichim back together and ask the pairs to sit on opposite sides of the circle based on their solutions to the dilemma (one side for those pairs who decided that one should drink, one side for those pairs who decided that both should)
· Discuss the alternate reasoning which led them to their decisions
· Present the continuation of the gemara in Bava Metziah 62a:
The son of Petura learned, Better that both should drink and die, rather than that one should watch his friend’s death. Until Rabbi Akiva came and taught [based on the pasuk] “That your brother may live with you” – Your life takes precedence to the life of your friend. – Bava Metziah 62a
· What is unique about Rabbi Akiva’s approach? What does he feel about the sanctity of human life? How does that differ from Ben Petura’s approach?
· Allow this line of discussion to lead you into a sicha about Rabbi Akiva’s involvement with the Bar Kochva revolt and the ideals that Rabbi Akiva espoused throughout his life and his actions
· Discuss some of the ideals that Rabbi Akiva stood for (discuss how the peula demonstrated these ideals) and the way they are incorporated into Bnei Akiva ideology today. (See Peula/Sicha A for development of these ideas)