Eizehu Ashir – Hasame’ach Bechelko!
Group Size: 10-50
Estimated Time: 45 minutes
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Materials: etrog story, something small for step 2 (that resembles a ring), something big for step 3 (that might resemble an etrog), chairs in the room, a large space for running.
Step 1(story): The Etrog Story
Tell the chanichim the follwing story. Feel free to be creative as you like (act it out, have the chanichim act it out, etc. Again, do not read off the paper).
Long ago, in a small town in
This man, Yankle, had a favorite mitzva which he made sure to keep in the best way possible every year – getting an Etrog on Sukkot. so when his situation got really bad, he started saving and saving and saving, and finally, when sukkot came along, he had enough money to by a decent etrog with, and he was happy. The next year, Yankle’s wife told him: “Yankle! we are down to nothing! We do not have anything we can sell anymore! I think this year you’ll have to give up on the mitzva of the etrog”. Yankle became terribly saddened, and decided he’d still try. He saved and he saved and he saved, but when tishrei, and rosh hashana came along he just didn’t have enough money. His wife, who knew he’d want to do anything in order to get the etrog, told him: “don’t think that you can get passed me! I will be on guard – we just can’t afford to buy an etrog!”. So, motzaei yom kippur, Yankle realized he had to get an etrog. It was this urge, this love of mitzvot that called within him “Yankle! Yankle! Etrog! Etrog!”. By where would he get the money from?
So the only valuable thing that they still had in their house was this old ring, given to Yankle’s wife by her mother who got it form generation and generations before her, supposedly from Sara Imeinu. This ring was extremely valuable to Yankle’s wife, but he, in his urge to get the etrog reasoned that she would understand. And so, three days before sukkot, Yankle set away to the nearest city where he could by an etrog. At the city market, he traded in the ring for the biggest, most beautiful etrog he could find. Yankle was jumping with happiness. The night before sukkot Yankle got back to town. It was late, and he sure hoped that his wife wasn’t up “probably she didn’t even see it was gone” said Yankle to himself.
However, when he entered the house through the window, who was waiting for him? His wife! She jumped on him, and started beating him, kicking and throwing her hands around, and calling him all kinds of not so nice names. In all the mess, Yankle had to protect himself, and his wife was getting her anger out on him, and the etrog? The etrog fell on the floor, and its Pitam broke off. (an etorg without a pitam is passul and isn’t worth anything.) Yankle and his wife stood silent and looked at the trog, and then each other. Yankle spoke first: “my dear wife! A few years ago we had our wealth; a few days ago we had the ring; a few minutes ago we had an etrog with pitam; but now, all we have is each other. So lets dance.”
Discussion: - what did Yankle think when he had nothing left?
- how much more meaningful do you think his prayers are going to be on sukkot, now that he has only his wife and himself to pray for? That idea is called “Tfiallt HaRash Te’erav Lefanecha” – the poor man’s prayer will be sweet in front of you (G-d). a man who is so poor but still prays shows a much greater emunah and has much more kavannah in his davenning and relationship with g-d.
Step 2(game): The Ring Game or Who Has the Ring?
The kids sit in a circle, and one is chosen to stand in the middle. The kids that they have to pass a “ring” (or any other small object) between them behind their backs while the kid in the middle is looking at them. At any given point a person may choose to keep the ring and “fake pass”. Even if he fake passes, the round of passing must end. Go for a round or two. The person in the middle has to guess who has the ring at the end of the round; he has three tries, if he can’t guess, the group wins, if he guesses right that person has to stand in the middle.
The point of the game, really, is to have something to do with a ring, to make them remember the story. In addition, though, you can say that the everyone’s the winner if the person in the middle couldn’t guess it – so that even though only one person has the ring, everyone else is left with the action that they did – and that’s the true reward. You don’t have to actually be holding something in the end in order to be a winner, or an “ashir”.
Step 3(game): Steal the Etrog
Split the kids into two teams, each standing at the opposite end of the room (Note: you’ll need a big space to play this). Have a madrich stand in the middle of the room holding an “etrog” (or any other large object ) with his hand stretching outward. The kids will divide themselves into numbers, and then the madrich will call on a number, for example “2”. The 2’s in both teams will have to run forward and try to grab the object, and then run back to their team with the object. The catch is that once a kid touched the object, he is vulnerable and the other kid may tag him and make him a prisoner for his team. If the kid who grabbed the object succeeds in getting back to his team without getting caught, the other kid is his prsioner. The prisoner stands behind the kid who got him to be a prsioner, and is only released when that kid is caught himself. The team that has all its members caught - loses.
The point of the game is, again, to have something to do with an etrog…. but seriosuly, that is the point – so if you come up with something better and a bit more educational (that is connected to the theme of this peula), please share!
Step 4(game): do you like your neighbors?
The kids sit on chairs in a circle. One person stands in the middle (a madrich could start) and asks a person in the circle: do you like your neighbors? The persona asked may choose to say yes or no. If yes, then his “neighbors” (the people sitting at either side of him) change sits. If no, then he is asked: who do you like? And he has to say any group of people, i.e. people with black hair, white shirts, blue eyes, people in __ grade, in ___ school, who are Jewish, who love Bnei Akiva, who love basketball, baseball, art, etc. possibilities are endless!! Those people have to get up and switch sits. Whenever there is a change of sits (for either a yes or a no) the person in the middle has to try and sit down, too. Make sure there are not enough sits in the circle, so that one person will always be left standing. The person left standing will be the next person asking the question.
Conclusion – The Point
The point of the game, and the point of the peula is simple: what is one thing we almost always have? Neighbors, people around us. What the story shows, and what this game touches on, is the fact that our neighbors are always there, and if we’re united, and have each other, and can be happy with each other – that’s all we really need.
ú You can connect this to parashat chayei sarah by mentioning how sarah imeinu was a model of chesed – she always cared about other people. even though she did not have children of her own most of her life, she was still able to care and to love and to give to other people.
ú If you want, this also connects to thanksgiving – you give thanks for everything - every little thing that you have; and that shows your true wealth.