Tefilla - Is Someone Listening? - תפילה - מישהו מקשיב?
Group Size: 5-30
Estimated Time: 60 minutes
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This is the place!
· To show that we can reach Hashem whenever we want to and need to
· To show that we have more kavana when we know that Someone is listening
Part 1 – Siddur is the key
- Trigger - Place a box in the middle of the room that looks very mysterious. You can wrap it up as a present or just drape a black cloth over it. Ideally the chanichim should be intrigued as to what is hidden inside.
- Speaking to high-powered people
- Send the chanichim to speak to important people and tell/ask them something. Start with people who will be around the snif and then make it more difficult by including the prime minister etc. Hand out cards; on one side there’s the name of a person and on the other there’s something they must ask or tell them. Eg:
Can I have your phone number?
2. Rabbi of congregation
What should we be davening for?
3. Prime Minister
What’s your favourite ice cream flavour?
4. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – President of Iran
When will you retire?
5. The Queen of England and the Commonwealth
What is your favourite colour?
- After having attempted all of them, they must return and tell of their experiences.
- Was it hard to find them?
- Were you nervous talking to them?
- Were they happy talking to you?
- Did they answer your question?
- If you didn’t find them, why not?
- Would you have been nervous talking to them?
- Would they have answered your question?
Part 2 – Can anyone hear me?
- Is anyone there? – Ask a few chanichim to convince a wall/pole/tree (any inanimate object) to marry them – one by one aloud for all to hear. Choose kids who will make it entertaining.
- Listening - Explain to the group that you will make a statement that only one person in the group will know that you’re talking about him/her. That person makes a statemtns that only one other person in the room knows that he’s referring to him. (Eg if you had a discussion with someone on the way to the beach about Aliyah, you could say “This person uses beach time to think about Israel”) Obviously you have to be clear enough so they will understand it’s them, but not too obvious.
Ask chanichim how they felt asking the tree to marry them.
Ask the other kids what they thought when watching it. Then ask them how they felt passing the secret messages around the room.
Why was it different? On the surface there shouldn’t be a difference – in both cases they were talking and listening. In the case of the tree they may have felt stupid because they knew the tree wasn’t listening and anything they said was just nonsense. On the other hand, in the second case they knew someone was listening to what they had to say so they put a lot of thought into what they would say.
In summary, when we daven Someone is listening. If we view davening as reading off a string of words, then it’s no wonder we don’t identify with it or like it. It’s like convincing a tree that you want to marry it. But if we understand that someone is listening on the other side then automatically our prayers must become more meaningful. We have to think about what we’re saying and who our “audience” is.
Part 3 - Conclusion
- Statements – read out statements about tefilla and get the chanichim to stand on either end of the room, depending on whether they agree or disagree with the statements. It should then lead onto a discussion about tefilla. Eg
- I feel connected to Hashem when I daven
- I feel connected to myself when I daven
- I can improve my kavana during davening
- I think davening out of a siddur is meaningless because the words are written by someone else
- Tefilla is meaningless because it’s part of a routine. It should be more spontaneous
- Davening once a day is enough
- No matter what I daven for I feel like it’s going to deaf ears
Chazal set up a formula for tefilla that we must follow because often when we daven we are lost for words and don’t know what to say, but we want to have a connection with Hashem. Sometimes, we’re too focused on what material things we want and we could forget to thank Hashem for everything He has given us. The set Tefilla reminds us of perspective, of the greater things we must ask for, like peace and health and a moral world.
There’s a distinct formula for tefilla in the siddur – first praise, then request and then thanks.
This could also remind us that Hashem doesn’t need our tefillot. He’s perfect and isn’t lacking anything. So ultimately, tefilla is really for us, maybe to instil within us the concept of gratitude and thanking.
Can read poem OR can put each verse in another layer of pass the parcel. When the parcel stops on a chanich they have to remove another layer and read the next part. OR can prepare on a tchupar.