How And Why We Daven?
Group Size: 5-30
Estimated Time: 90 minutes
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This is the place!
song sheets or Tehillim are optional for the song
Theme: 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
This story begins with the great Baal Shem Tov, who founded Hasidism a few hundred years ago in
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
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.
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.