Shevet Lavi Sicha-strong Like Lions - ùéçä ìùáè ìáéà- çæ÷éí ëàøéåú
Group Size: 10-50
Estimated Time: 45 minutes
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The chanichim should understand the meaning of their shevet Lavi – that we should act like lions by being strong morally in our personal lives, and by fighting back and being strong as a nation.
papers with 5 different sports teams animal logos, papers with 5 times Jews rose up and fought
Show the chanichim the lion semel. Just as the sports teams picked various animals because they wanted their team to exhibit the same midot, this shevet picked lavi as its name/symbol because we want to exhibit the same traits that a lion has.
What does the symbol of a lion represent? What traits does a lion have? (Strong, powerful, fearless, king of the jungle….). What can we learn from a lion?
What shevet had a lion as its semel? Yehuda (Which is one of the only shvatim that is around now, meaning that’s all Jews today who aren’t Leviim or Cohanim). What was shevet Yehuda’s job? Malchut. Why would the tribe of leaders and kings pick a lion as their semel? So leaders and kings should be strong and powerful.
Where else are lions mentioned? The opening sentence in the Shulchan Aruch says “yitgaber k’ari baboker l’avod et haboreh”. We should rise in the morning like a lion to serve G-d. Why like a lion? Why is the lion example specifically used here? What happens in the morning? We’re tired and want to stay asleep, it takes a lion’s effort to get out of bed. It’s hard to do mitzvoth, we have to fight our yetzer hara, like a lion.
How does this work with what we’ve been saying so far? Before we said that the lion semel represents external traits, but now we’re saying internal traits are important too. Sometimes people can be leaders on the outside, fighting battles, conquering lands, but internally and morally they are weak, succumbing to temptation.
Take Bill Clinton – would you say he is a strong leader? He might have been president of the USA, most powerful person in the world – quite a lion – on the outside. But in his personal life he messed up big time and was not strong enough. Who does Pirkei Avot call strong? Mi Hagibor – Hakovesh et Yitzro! The message of Lavi is not just to be strong on the outside, but also like a lion on the inside, in our personal lives. That is true leadership and that is a nation of lions – people whose insides and outsides match up (tocho k’eboro).
But this is only talking about individuals. What about that nation? The source for our shevet name is in Bamidbar 23:24, when Bilaam is describing the Jewish people. He says that the nation will arise like a lion. What do u think this means, the nation should arise in what way? When were times in Jewish History that the Jewish people rose like a lion? How do those times make you feel, how do you relate to those events?
Have the chanichim go back into their groups. Each group will get 5 slips of paper, each with a time the Jewish people rose up and fought. Have the group pick the incident that they feel is the most powerful and the most inspiring. Ask the chanichim, if you could only teach kids about one of these times which one would you pick and why?
Have the groups present. Then ask, what did all these events have in common? These were all times that the Jewish people arose and fought. This is what Am Kelavi yakum means.
Now why do we care? Why is Jews fighting back important? Why should our shevet name be representing that. From the Maccabees to the Warsaw ghetto Jews never fought back. We were passive. Maybe that’s ideal. Or is it? What do you think? (Let this be debated).
Read Mordechai Anilevitz’s letter. Does this change anything? This is saying that Jews fighting back is key. Why – why Am Kelavi Yakum – why should we fight back?
There's a teshuva written in the Warsaw ghetto saying that when non-Jews try to kill us we shouldn’t give up our lives but fight back and live, that is a kiddush Hashem. Today, fighting for Israel and Jews standing up and fighting back (Entebbe, etc) shows that Hashem hasn’t abandoned us and that the Jewish people are strong. The time calls for us no longer to be passive but an active fighting people. Here is a cool quote on the pasuk about Am KeLavi Yakum:
Once more, this is not a local reference to a nation a few million strong, fresh from the victories over Emorite kings, but a timeless perspective on the Jewish people. These young lions were the ones that rose from the bunkers of Warsaw, from the barracks of Sobibor, and later, from Ammunition Hill. This is the heavenly voice of the exploding Molotov cocktails and the roaring fighter jets of the IDF. He who was willing to cup his hand to his ear to strain to make out the true sounds of this colossal din heard, “hen am ke-lavi yakum ve-kha’ari yitnassa.”
Jews fighting back makes us proud to be Jewish and is a key part of our Jewish Identity, and our identity as an Am and as a Shevet.
Conclusion: The shevet name Lavi teaches us that we should always be like lions, in our internal lives with regard to keeping the Torah, and in our national identity, in fighting back for the Jewish People.
The Last Letter From Mordecai Anielewicz,
Warsaw Ghetto Revolt Commander
April 23, 1943
It is impossible to put into words what we have been through. One thing is clear, what happened exceeded our boldest dreams. The Germans ran twice from the ghetto. One of our companies held out for 40 minutes and another for more than 6 hours… Several of our companies attacked the dispersing Germans. Our losses in manpower are minimal. That is also an achievement… I feel that great things are happening and what we dared do is of great, enormous importance...
It is impossible to describe the conditions under which the Jews of the ghetto are now living. Only a few will be able to hold out. The remainder will die sooner or later. Their fate is decided. In almost all the hiding places in which thousands are concealing themselves it is not possible to light a candle for lack of air.
With the aid of our transmitter we heard the marvelous report on our fighting by the "Shavit" radio station. The fact that we are remembered beyond the ghetto walls encourages us in our struggle.
Peace go with you, my friend! Perhaps we may still meet again! The dream of my life has risen to become fact. Self-defense in the ghetto will have been a reality. Jewish armed resistance and revenge are facts. I have been a witness to the magnificent, heroic fighting of Jewish men in battle.
· Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, 1943
· Bar Kochva Rebellion, 132 A.C.E
· Yehudah Maccabee’s Revolt, 165 B.C.E
· The reconquering of the Kotel and Old City of Jerusalem, 1967
· Raid on Entebbe, 1976
· The Israeli Air Force bombing and destroying Iraq’s Nuclear Reactor, 1981
· Israel fighting and winning against 5 Arab nations in the War of Independence, 1948
Trigger: Divide the chanichim up into small groups. Give each group 5 papers with a sports teams’ animal logo on it. Have them discuss why each team picked the animal it did for its logo/ to represent it (its fierce, brave, fast…), and pick 3 to present to the rest of the group.
Sicha: Ask the chanichim – why did those teams pick the animals that they did? What teams did you pick to present and why (maybe only the more aggressive, stronger ones). What were some of the traits that the different teams wanted to copy?