The Semel - הסמל (של בני עקיבא)

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Resource Type: Peula in: English
Age: 10-16
Group Size: 10-40
Estimated Time: 60 minutes

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Resource Goal







  • Learn the importance of symbols in general
  • Get to know the meaning of the Semel Bnei Akiva
  • Understand more about the messages of Bnei Akiva

Resource Contents







The Semel












  • Learn the importance of symbols in general
  • Get to know the meaning of the Semel Bnei Akiva
  • Understand more about the messages of Bnei Akiva










Symbols:          Shape it up

What does it mean to me?

Symbol creating game




Semel BA:        Introduction

v     The Luchot & Torah

v     The scythe the rake & Avodah

v     The wheat

v     The olive branch

v     The ribbon – Semel Story









Step by step.






Shape it up:



Hand out some shapes that you find in the packet to your chanichim (list attached)

Ask them if these shapes mean anything to them?

Now organize the shapes as the Israel and USA flags.

Ask again if these shapes mean anything to them?

Clearly now they do because when we put meaning into something it becomes important to us.




What does it mean to me?



Each Chanich will get a picture of a symbol out of a bag (list attached). The Chanich will have to explain how and if this symbol can be important and meaningful to him.

Ask the Chanich if there is meaning in the actual design or only the meaning of the thing it represents.

For example the Olympic symbol represents the harmony between the 5 continents, and how the sports brings them all together.  




How do we define the meaning of each symbol?

Some have historical meaning, some are used for an action that makes their meaning, some are just shapes that we feed the meaning to, and some can be meaningful to the creators and are thought to others.




The reason we have symbols is so that people can show in an easy way that they are connected to and belive in a message. A symbol is a source of pride in the things that it represents and shows belonging to the message and the group it represents.













Symbol creating game:



Split the chanichim into groups of 2 with the attached method of the famous couples. Each Chanich gets a card with a name on it and he needs to pair up with the suitor couple (list attached).




We will suggest a few new organizations (list attached) and each 2 chanichim will come up with something that can symbolize the new movement. As its Shabbat all they have to do is describe what they would put in the logo for the movement. The logo has to represent the main message of the movement in a picture or design that describes it.




As we will see further on all these new organizations are based on small parts of the ideology of Bnei Akiva and all these messages appear in the Semel Bnei Akiva.




Go through the messages of the organizations and show how they are all messages of Bnei Akiva that are shown in the semel.

Then in order to learn more about our semel we will learn separately about each of the items and their meanings.







Get to know the Semel of Bnei Akiva






Show the chanichim the semel Bnei Akiva. Explain briefly what’s in it and make sure they all know it’s the semel of all of Bnei Akiva world wide,  the Taf and Ayin stand for torah VaAvoda and the whole semel represents our ideology of Am Yisrael BeEretz Yirael Al Pi Torat Yisrael.

We will play a game or do something about each of the items in the semel, then at the end we will have a fun story that will help bring all the messages together.




Note for the Madrich: Under each item we have written the messages it has in the semel although we won’t teach the chanichim all those messages. We thought it would be important for you to know the messages. After that we have a method to teach each message. We have suggested 2 methods for each item, see which of them is more suitable for your chanichim. If all the items are too much for your chanichim so do only some of them.






v     The Luchot

v     The scythe the rake

v     The wheat

v     The olive branch

v     The ribbon – Semel Story




The Luchot



  • The centrality of torah to our movement


  • all of the Torah & all of the Mitzvot


  • Spreading Hashem’s message, Kidush Hashem


The Luchot are the center and major part of the semel and they come to show the importance of the full Torah to our Movement.




For the younger Shvatim – Quiz with candies (bring candies by the number of chanichim)

Ask the questions and let each chanich answer once.




What is the connection between all these quiz questions?

They are all related to all of the torah being given at Har Sinai

The physical symbol that we have from that event is the Luchot Habrit. The luchot symbolize all of the Mitzvot from the first 10 to the last that R Akiva learned from each tag on the letters.

The reason we have the luchot in the center of our semel is to show that we belive in all of the torah and all of the mitzvot and that is the canter of our ideology.




For the older Shvatim - Rate 10 mitzvot.

We want to show that all mitzvot were given by Hashem in the torah and they are all equally important. Sometimes we need to emphasize mitzvot that are not being done but the basic idea is that all mitzvot are important and we must keep all of them without choosing what we think is more or less important. Now we will try to rate 10 mitzvot so that the chanichim see that it’s very difficult, when you see they cant make a decision help them by telling them the question isn’t fair. Really all mitzvot are equally important as we explained.

The reason we have the Luchot in the center of our semel is to stress the message that the torah and mitzvot in their full meaning are all central to our ideology.




The scythe & the rake



  • Working the land of Israel


  • Doing our own work for ourselves


  • The rake is the beginning of the work and the scythe is the completion of the work.





For the younger Shvatim – thumbs up thumbs down

Dilemmas about What is more Jewish in Eretz Yisrael? Work or not? (attached)

Bnei Akiva believes that it’s important to go out to work. Not only to make money but in order to help and develop the society around us.

Chose some of the dilemmas attached to display this message. After each dilemma explain why the ideal of going out to work is important.

The reason we have the scythe & the rake is to emphasize the importance of working by ourselves and for ourselves.




For the older Shvatim – thumbs up thumbs down

Dilemmas about less of our own or more of others (attached).

In Bnei Akiva we believe that it is important to do work ourselves and not have others doing it for us. This is also a message that you can see in the following sources:




A person prefers one part of his own to 9 parts made by others. One of his own is favored by him as he has worked for it.




רוצה אדם בקב שלו מתשעה קבין של חבירו. קב שלו חביב עליו ע"י שעמל בו




ברטנורא על משנה בבא מציעא, ג', ו






When thou eatest the labour of thy hands, happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.

יגיע כפיך כי תאכל אשריך וטוב לך



 tehilim(Psalms), 128, 2

תהילים קכ"ח, ב






He that tilleth his ground shall have plenty of bread

עובד אדמתו ישבע לחם



Mishlei 12, 11

משלי י"ב יא






Chose a few of the dilemmas attached to display this message. After each dilemma explain how we believe that we should use our own things and appreciate our own work.



The reason we have the Scythe & the rake is to emphasize the importance of working by ourselves and for ourselves.







The Shear / bushel / stalk of Wheat



  • the man needs to complete the world – like R Akiva learns from wheat


  • a very full shear – blessed by Hashem


  • Israel - 1 of the 7 species








For the younger Shvatim –



Brachot order: we will give out pictures of various products and they will have to organize them in the order of what Bracha we should make first (list attached).

What passuk defines the bracha that comes first within the fruit?




land of wheat and barley, and vines and fig-trees and pomegranates; a land of olive-trees and honey



ארץ חיטה ושעורה וגפן ותאנה ורימון ארץ זית שמן ודבש



Dvarim, 8, 8



דברים ח', ח






What bracha achrona do we make on fruit from that passuk?

Al HaMichya, על המחיה



These species are important because praise Israel and that’s why they are in our semel. By having the Wheat and the olive in the Semel we are symbolizing Eretz Yisrael and praising Eretz Yisrael.




For the older Shvatim – R Akiva prefers wheat to bread

Read the story about R Akiva and the roman governor of Israel . Or rather act it out with 2 madrichim 1 as R Akiva as 1 as Tournosrofous. Point out the importance of the wheat in the world. Hashem didn’t give us bread that grows on trees rather he gave us wheat that we can make bread from. It isn’t fully prepared until we work with it.

The reason we have the wheat on our semel is because it represents how we work to complete Hashem’s world.




The olive branch:



  • Purity like the oil for the Menorah


  • Peace between us and Hashem and with the world like the dove from Noach


  • Israel - 1 of the 7 species


  • Israel – like in Semel HaMedina





For the younger Shvatim – story about why the olive tree is hollow.

The reason we have an olive branch on the semel is to symbolize how we take things seriously and how peace and purity are important to us.




For the older Shvatim -



Like the idea for the younger Shvatim on wheat.




The ribbon – Semel story:



  • Tying all together - developing an ideal state


  • R Akiva





Read the story about the semel. (Attached)







This semel that we just learned all about is the symbol of a huge Tnua. Tousends of members in Israel and around the world are proud of this semel and belive in the ideology it represents.

We should respect this symbol and wear it with pride on our clothes or items that carry it. When we see this semel we should remember how many important messages it includes.

Things to prepare:









2 blue triangles, 1 blue square (quarter page), 2 white sheets of paper,2 short red stripes, 3 long red stripes, white stars for all the rest.







Pictures of:



Flag of Israel, Magen David, Semel of the state of Israel, a Tanach, a map of Israel, a flag of the USA, a flag of Pensylvania, Luchot Habrit, Sythe, rake, Wheat, olive branch, ribbon, Sefer Torah, Talit, Menorah, Basketball team flag, Tzahal flag, Jerusalem flag,







Couples cards:



























R Akiva






R Meir












































Order of Brachot pictures:



Bread, grape, olive, fig, date, apple, carrot, baked potato, orange juice, peach







10 Mitzvot for Rating:












Saying Shema Yisrael



קריאת שמע









Brith Milah



ברית מילה



Yishuv HaAretz



יישוב הארץ









Fasting on Yom Kippur



צום ביום כיפור



Eating Matza on Pessach



אכילת מצה בפסח



Giving Tzedaka






Kibud Av aEm  



כיבוד אב ואם









Organization names and meanings:



The message from God – we try to bring Dvar Hashem to the Nation. Am Yisrael doesn’t know how much Dvar Hashem can direct the people.  We raise the awareness to how many things are discussed in the torah and what amazing insights there are.







The Full torah – we believe in keeping all the torah and all the mitzvot and not missing anything. We can’t allow people to think that some mitzvot are more important than others.







Central Torah – we believe that the torah should be in the center of our lives. We do many things during the day but Torah should be the most important, it might not take the major of the time in our lives but it is the most central. We promote putting torah



Luchot Being Center of the semel




Land workers – we believe that the nation should be more connected to the land. We try to encourage people to be farmers and grow all the agricultural products needed. We shouldn’t import fruit we should only export it to many other Jews so that they can all eat holy products.



Rake & scythe




Better days – from the Mabul of Noach until today we have suffered many tragedies, we try to make the world a safer and better place.



Olive leaf




Pure oil – hoping to see more pure people and hoping to build beit Hamikdash, the movement organizes preparation of pure olive oil for the Mikdash.







Work for your bread - Bread doesn’t grow on trees, all people should go out to work. We will help you find a job if you will agree to do any job needed.







Fruit of the land – we encourage people to Use the 7 species that Praise Israel. Make products, promote and advertise the 7 species. We believe that will bring pride to Israel .



Wheat & Olive




Thank God – look around you and see how we should be grateful to Hashem. When you get a nice fruit or succeed in a good deal, remember to thank Hashem. We believe that if people will remember to thank Hashem they will have a better life, therefore we promote Hakarat Hatov.






Full Stalk of wheat




The luchot = all of the torah






1-10.    What are the 10 commandments?

11.       What kind of Mitzvot are the first 5 commandments? (bein adam lamakom)

12.       What kind of Mitzvot are the last 5 commandments? (bein adam lachavero)

13.       What mitzvah do we know that was given in Sinai and we learn from it that all were given in Sinai? (Shmita in Parashat Behar)

14.       What 2 torot did moshe get at Sinai? (written & Oral)

15.       How many mitzvot Ase are there? (248 – equal to the number of organs in the humen body)

16.       How many Mitzvot Lo Taase are there? (365 – equal to the number of days in the year)

17.       How many words are there in Kriat Shema? (610 + the 3 we add makes 613)

18.       What word do the last letter and the first letter of the torah form? (Lev – Heart the last words are לעיני כל ישראל and the first word is Bereshit)



19.       Why did Hashem write tags on the letters of the torah? (because R Akiva would learn from them)

























Less of your own or more of others



Rake & Scythe






  1. You have had a dog for 5 years. You like it very much and you have trained it to jump through fire rings. Someone offers you 5 dogs of your choice instead of your one dog.

If you think you should keep your dog put your thumb up, if you should trade it thumb down.




  1. You built a computer out of many kits and it took you 6 months to plan it and get it working. It finally runs all your programs on it. Someone offers you to replace it for a brand new computer.

If you think you should keep your computer put your thumb up, if you should trade it thumb down.




  1. You live in Israel , for the past 4 years you have been growing an orange tree. finally this summer you can eat its fruit. Someone offered you 5 oranges for each of your oranges.

If you think you should keep your oranges put your thumb up, if you should trade them thumb down.




  1. You have been married for 5 years and finally you have had a son, but he was born deaf. The hospital suggests that you send him to a home and instead adopt a healthy child.

If you think you should keep your son put your thumb up, if you should adopt a healthy one thumb down.




  1. You wrote a Sefer torah and it was placed in your shul in Jerusalem . You are moving to Tel Aviv and you will start a new community that doesn’t have any Sefer torah. The shul in Jerusalem has offered you 2 sfarim instead of your Sefer that is so well written.

If you think you should keep your Sefer Torah put your thumb up, if you should trade it thumb down.







What is more Jewish in Eretz Israel ? Work or not?



Rake & Scythe






  1. You work as a chemistry teacher in a high school with hundreds of students. You like your work and feel that you also teach ideological messages through the classes you teach. You feel that you will probably be able to hold the job until your pension and you will earn a fair salary. Suddenly you get a letter from your lawyer that informs you that you have just inherited 5 million Shekels from a long lost great uncle who died in Norway and you are the only relative he has. You are so happy that you have enough money to support your family for the rest of your life. Your neighbor is a rosh kollel and when he hears this he suggests that now that you don’t need to make a living you quit work and go to learn in his kollel.




If you think you should keep your Job put your thumb up, if you should go to kollel thumb down.




  1. Your friend lost his job 2 years ago. Until a few weeks ago he wouldn’t take donations and was doing alright with his leftover savings. You want to help him but you are not sure what to do. You know his bank account number and you can deposit money there without him knowing or rather your wife suggests you take a few days off work and take him to job centers to help him find a job.




If you think you should help him find a job put your thumb up, if you should give him Tzedaka thumb down.




  1. You just finished high school in Israel and your draft to the army will only be in 8 months from now. You are offered a job in a bakery for 10 hours a day and you think of taking it. The day before you agree your rich uncle asks you to help out and be his 2 children’s baby sitter every afternoon for 5 hours and he will pay the same as the bakery would pay.




If you think you should take the job at the bakery put your thumb up, if you should do the babysitting thumb down.



















Why is the olive tree hollow?









At the time of the destruction of Beit HaMikdash, when the temple was on fire, the essence of the earth collapsed, The sun set in the dark and the earth was wrapped in endless darkness and mourning.



All the plants and the trees dried out and didn’t want to give fruit. The seven species were mostly hurt, as they were the pride of Israel . The wheat and the barley became weaker and since then they fly in the wind, the grapes shrunk and are not as big as they were in the days of the Tanach and the Meraglim, the fig dried out, the pomegranate grow a crown to remember Hashem’s palace, and the leafs of the palm tree became prickly. Only the olive tree didn’t change his looks and continued to give fruit.



The other trees were very angry at him for not showing any sign of mourning. They were surprised that the olive who was so connected to the oil in the menorah was the one who didn’t mourn.



The olive tree felt that they were angry and called them all to get closer and take a deeper look at him. They took a closer look and saw that he was hollow from the inside. “I am eaten from inside after the destruction my heart is broken but from outside I still must keep the pride of Israel .



From the inside I am torn and empty but Am Yisrael Chai and therefore we must all shape up and let Israel continue to be praised by us.
























R Akiva Learns from the Wheat






Turnusrupus the wicked asked Rabbie Akiva, whose deeds are more beautiful gods or mans?



Rabbi Akiva answered mans deeds are more beautiful.



Turnusrupus asked, can man then create the likes of heaven and earth?!



Rabbi Akiva responded, do not challenge me with matters that are beyond man, creations that man has no control over, you may challenge me with matters that are within mans grasp.



Turnusrupus then questioned, why if man is created by god, do you not see him as perfect? and why do you require circumcision?



Rabbi Akiva answered, I knew you would question circumcision, and yet, I answered that mans works are greater than gods, bring me a stalk of grain and a baked cookie tell me which of these two is more perfect?






שאל טורנוסרופוס הרשע את ר' עקיבא איזה מעשים נאים של הקב"ה או של בשר ודם?



אמר לו של בשר ודם נאים.



אמר לו טורנוסרופוס הרשע הרי השמים והארץ יכול אתה לעשות כהם?



אמר לו ר' עקיבא לא תאמר לי בדבר שהוא למעלה מן הבריות, שאין שולטין בהן, אלא בדברים שהן מצויין בבני אדם. אמר לו למה אתם נמולים?



א"ל אף אני הייתי יודע שאתה עתיד לומר לי כן, לכך הקדמתי ואמרתי לך מעשה בשר ודם הם נאים משל הקב"ה, הביאו לי שבולים וגלוסקאות, אמר לו אלו מעשה הקב"ה ואלו מעשה בשר ודם, אין אלו נאים?



Midrash Tanchuma Parshat Tazriah 7



(מדרש תנחומא פרשת תזריע ז)















Translated by Datya Sheinfeld & Racheli Stein






Bnei Akiva didn’t always have a semel, you know



One Mazkir noticed that things were at an all time low.



“How could it be?” he asked himself out loud,



“That we don’t have a symbol of which to be proud?!”



He decided that by the end of the day,



He would draw up a semel, but to his dismay,



There were so many things that he should include,



To leave one symbol out would be terribly rude.



All this thinking made him doze off to sleep,



And into his dream different symbols began to creep.



Marching forward, make no mistake,



First in line was the rake.



Along with him came the scythe.



He stuck to the rake, they’re buddies for life.



“Bnei Akiva has ideas that aren’t bland,



Work hard and settle the land!



So for the semel you should definitely take



The two of us, the scythe and the rake.”



“If we’re already discussing labor and working hard,



The final produce you should not discard.”



So said the barley sheaves stepping out of the shade,



“And I’m one of the fruits with which Eretz Yisrael is praised.”



“What’s going on here?” The Luchot from the corner yelled,



“The Torah and religion should not be withheld.”



Unexpectedly (or so it may seem),



The olive tree branch arrived in the dream.



“I symbolize the state of Israel , this is nothing new,



And I have to do with the Beit Hamikdash too.”



“Everyone has made really good points,” the Mazkir thought



“I can’t turn anyone down,” he said distraught.



Suddenly he saw the solution clear and bright,



He could put them all together, that would be all right.



Into the back corner went the scythe and the rake,



In front of them went the Luchot; they weren’t blank.



On one side the olive, on the other the sheaves.



The semel was done, or so he believed…



“Something is missing, what could it be?



Something to pull it together, to symbolize unity.



A blue ribbon that says Bnei Akiva would be the best,



It will stand on the bottom and hold the rest.”



The Mazkir stepped back, looked and exclaimed:



“This is it! A semel that can be framed!



It symbolizes all of the important ideas-every one.



It will be Bnei Akiva’s semel for all years to come!”






Related Resources can be found under:

» All > Bnei Akiva > General

» All > Bnei Akiva > Ideology

» All > Bnei Akiva > Torah VaAvoda

» All > Bnei Akiva > About Bnei Akiva

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