Chazara B'teshuva - לחזור בתשובה
Group Size: 10-20
Estimated Time: 45 minutes
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a rope to be used as a fake noose
Written by: Rachel and Hadas, Cleveland
Goal: "Chodesh Elul" is the month of remorse and "Chazara Betshuva" - this month prepares us for a new beginning starting "Rosh Hashanah".
Suggested Age: Chevraya Aleph, Zach
Suitable for Shabbat
Materials: a rope to be used as a fake noose
a. Shooting game (a.k.a. BANG!)- all of the "Chanichim" stand in a circle. One "Chanich" calls out someone else's name, this "Chanich" bends down and the "Chanichim" to his left and right shoot each other. The "Chanich" who shoots first wins, the looser goes out of the game. If the person whose name was called doesn't duck and someone on either side of him shoots, that chanich whose name was called is out. (The point of this game is to show the "Chanichim" that if you are out of the game you can't come back in).
b. The "Madrich" puts a rope around his neck. He tells the "Chanichim" that he is going to commit suicide because his whole life he has been stealing, lying, kidnapping, etc. He feels that he has no reason to keep on living, he knows that he deserves to be punished, and even though he regrets what he has done, he can't change the past. And therefore he feels that there is no point to do "Chazara Betshuva".
At this point the "Madrich" should ask his "Chanichim" (still as the person who is about to commit suicide) if he has a chance to do "Chazara Betshuva".
The "Madrich" should have a discussion with the "Chanichim" explaining to them that the stolen items- will not be returned, the family photo that was burnt- will not be restored, the kidnapped child will not get the year back that he lost with his parents, etc. But even though all of his sins this man has a chance to do "Chazara Betshuva".
Because nobody is born perfect, we have "Yetzer Hatov" and "Yetzer Hara", and if we all had only one chance we would all be out of the game. Judaism gives us all another chance.
Discuss with the "Chanichim" what "chazara Betshuva" is and explain to them that people who did "Chazara Betshuva" are on the highest level.
C. Chinese nail story:
In a little village in china lived a boy named Chan. He was always getting into trouble and doing bad things. One day his father was fed up with his behavior and Chan himself realized that he has gone to far already. His father sent him to the wisest (and oldest) man in the village to teach him how to correct his ways.
When Chan arrived at the old man's house he saw a 100 years old man, with only nails and a hammer on his table. Chan didn't understand, the old man explained to him that every time he does something bad he would bang a nail in the wall.
The days passed and there were 300 nails in the wall. The old man told Chan that every time that he stops to do something bad he should take out a nail.
The days passed and all of the nails were out. Chan was glad- now finally he's a good boy.
The old man replied- there are no more nails in the wall but the holes that your bad deeds did even your good deeds can't fill.
• Explain to the "Chanichim" that in Judaism this story is not true. In Judaism a person who does "Tshuva" is not allowed to be reminded of his prior sins. Each person must concentrate on his own sins, and not on other people’s sins.
• Zach only!
Harav Kook says- "Tshuva" must be divided into two:
1. "Tshuva" for personal sins.
2. "Tshuva" for national sins- such as fasting on "Tishah beav", which we are not far from today because we are enjoying ourselves here and not making "Aliya".
d. Explain to the "Chanichim" that the way to do "Tshuva" is to take each time one bad thing (sin) that needs to be changed- and fix that.
“ ... Even a trip of a million miles starts with one step..."