Tefilla - úôéìä
Group Size: 15-25
Estimated Time: 45 minutes
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To teach a little about why, when and how we say tefila
song sheets or Tehillim are optional for the song
Topic: Teshuva, Tefila, U’Tzedaka
Written By: Josh Skarf
Goals: To teach a little about why, when and how we say tefila
Materials: song sheets or Tehillim are optional for the song
Game 1: Tag Variation
The game plays like a normal version of Tag, with one person being IT and trying to tag the other players in the game. Instead of there being a safe base, in order to escape being tagged a player has to stop and say the words to a part of tefila (other than Shmone Esrei). You can only use a tefila once per game.
Discussion: The message here is very simple. When we need help, we say tefilot and cry out to Hashem. Which specific tefilot do we say when we need help? Many people say Tehilim when they feel in need.
Song: If you feel that it will work with your kvutza, you may choose to teach them a nice song from Tehilim or another part of tefila. This probably won’t work with every kvutza, so you must use your discretion. The songs “Esa Einai El HeHarim” or “Tov Lehodot” are suitable, as are many other seuda shlishit songs.
Game 2: Musical Chairs
Have each chanich set up a chair in a circle facing outwards. Choose one to read from Shema (or some other tefila). Take one chair away from the circle, so that there is one less chair than kids. Then have the chanich start reading. As long as he is reading, everyone walks around the circle. When he stops, they must sit down. Whoever doesn’t have a chair at the end is out. Remove another chair so that these is one less chair than kids, and play another round, until one person is left.
Story: Ba’al Shem Tov’s Prayer in the Forest
This story begins with the great Baal Shem Tov, who founded Hasidism a few hundred years ago in Eastern Europe. Once, the Baal Shem Tov heard of an awful disaster that threatened his people. He went to a certain place deep in the forest, where he used to meditate. There he lit a fire, and offered a special prayer, and the disaster was averted.
A generation later, the Baal Shem Tov's disciple, the Maggid of Mazrich, heard that a terrible misfortune again threatened the people. He too went deep into the forest. He said, "Master of the Universe, listen! I do not know how to light the fire, but I am still able to come this place, and to say the special prayer." So he prayed as the Baal Shem Tov had, and again disaster was prevented.
The years passed. It came time for Rabbi Moshe-Leib of Sasov to perform the same task. He went deep into the forest, and called out, "I can no longer light the fire, nor do I know the secret meditations belonging to the prayer. But I do know the place in the woods. This must be sufficient!" And it was sufficient, for the terrible misfortune did not take place.
Another generation; it was Rabbi Israel of Rizhyn's turn to protect his people. He gathered them around him and told the story of how once their great ancestor, the Baal Shem Tov, offered a special prayer and disaster was averted. Rabbi Israel didn't mention the forest or the fire, for he didn't know the details, nor did he know the words of the prayer. But, he said, "We can tell the story of what once was done, and that must be sufficient." And it was.
Discussion: Is it possible for a story to be a form of prayer? There is a similar story about an ignorant boy that goes to pray on Yom Kippur but doesn’t know how, and instead recites the Aleph Bet out loud. The kids may also know this story and mention it. Why do we daven? Does Hashem need our tefilot? Chazal give us a specific way to daven because that is the best way for us to do it. But at the same time, if we just read words we don’t understand in Hebrew, it is also a little empty. Talk with them about how to make their tefila more meaningful, reading it in English, asking for explanations, concentrating on what they’re saying.
Game 3: Red Light, Green Light
The Chanichim line up against one wall, and one person is picked to stand against the other wall. He turns his back to the group and says “Aleinu L’Sheiach L’Adon Hakol” (instead of Red Light, Green Light, One, Two, Three). While his back is turned, everyone tries to approach him in order to tag him. However, when he finishes, he turns around, and anyone he sees moving has to go back to the beginning.
Discussion: During tefila, we have to try and clear our minds of all other things and concentrate on what we’re saying. Even though other things may be going on around us, we can’t be distracted by them.
Mifkad: Because this is the first week of snif, we must leave plenty of time for mifkad, Bnei Akiva’s ceremony. Have the chanichim arrange themselves in a Chet (the Hebrew letter) and stand in the opening. Explain to them the commands you are giving.
Hamifkad na ya’avor l’noach, amod noach means they should stand with their feet shoulder length apart, and their hands behind their back.
Hamifkad na ya’avor l’dom, amod dom means they should stand with feet together, and their hands at their sides.
L’shirat Himnon HaTnua, Yad Achim, Hamifkad na ya’avor l’dom, amod dom means we are going to sing the anthem of our Movement, Yad Achim.
L’shirat Himnon HaMedina, Hatikva, Hamifkad na ya’avor l’dom, amod dom means we are going to sing the anthem of our State, Hatikva.
Livrachot, Imdu Dom means stand at attention for our Brachot:
Mi Anachnu? Bnei Akiva Who are we? Bnei Akiva
Me Chayeinu? Torah V’Avodah What is our life? Torah and work (Tell them we will explain this is a later snif).
U’ma Sismateinu? Am Yisrael B’Eretz Yisrael Al Pi Torat Yisrael What is our motto? The nation of Israel in the land of Israel according to the Torah of Israel.
Hashem Imachem – Yivarechecha Hashem. A greeting found in tanach in two places, meaning “Hashem is with you”, with the response of “May Hashem bless you.”
P’turim means dismissed.
Mifkad is a great time to do something fun with the kids and be creative. It’s also the perfect time to summarize the things you’ve learnt that day. In addition, you can tell them that today’s snif had some simple games that they probably already knew, but that in snifim to come, the games will be more exciting and creative. Perhaps it is a good idea to teach them one line of Yad Achim each week, by translating it and discussing it a bit with them.
Some things to remember in this, your first snif:
- It is crucial to always read the snif packets ahead of time.
- Never read stories right from the sheet. Instead, retell them in your own words. It’s always more boring to here a story being read, as opposed to a story being told.
- Be on time, waiting for the kids. Set up some chairs in a circle so that the kids know exactly where to sit.
- Get the feel for the room you’re in. If you’re working in a small room indoors, the dynamics of the area will be much different from a snif run outside. Learn to use your area.
- If you see a kid acting up or getting wild, give them a special job. Have them help you explain the next game, make them feel special, etc.
- Giving out candy often ensures that things will go well. It’s always good to have food.
- Dress in Blue and White
These are just some basic things I thought of off the top of my head that seemed more important. Hopefully we will have some intensive sniff hadracha training soon to better address these issues and others.
PS. Also mention that this snif is part of a larger theme of Teshuva, Tefila, U’Tzedaka, that will be explored in future snifim, as well as during the week with other tochniyot.