As an introduction to the topic of the return to Israel, play the game "I am going to Israel and with me I am going to bring….." Instead of having the chanichim say things such as gameboys and their playstations, try to have them think about what they would need in they were returning to Israel from years of exile. Make sure that one of the Madrichim are the last person in the group to go, have them say that they would bring their neighbors wealth. Huh???? Then the madrich/a should launch into the story of the edict of Cyrus. (see background information) DON’T GET OUT OF THE CIRCLE!!!!! Time for some broken telephone. Whatever you do just make sure that the message always gets messed up. This will show the distortion of information. What, you may ask, does this have to do with anything? Well, when the Jews were building the Temple, their is a interruption when their enemies offer "assistance." They of course say no, but their enemies distort this and report it to Artaxerxes, the new king who stops the building of the temple. This all due to a slight distortion of information- this story also shows that you must "keep your friends close. And your enemies closer."
Discussion Points/ Conclusion
Discuss how amazing this story is in the first place- a Persian king allowing the Jews to return to Israel, build the temple and have their Gentile neighbors pay for it.
Discuss the idea of keeping your enemies close. Was their a better way the Jews should have handled the situation?
539 BCE- The fall of Babylon
538 BCE- The edict of Cyrus. (Ezra, aleph)
King Cyrus of Persia allows the Jews to return to Israel and rebuild the Temple. If any Jew could not afford their Gentile neighbor was supposed to fund their trip. Cyrus also returned all the vessels stolen from the first Beit Mikdash by Nebuchadnezzer.
The Jews return to Israel, build an alter, and celebrate Succot. After Succot, they continue to offer daily sacrifices, but they still have not really started to build yet, so they then start to get all the supplies they need for the building.
520 BCE- The Temple has started to be rebuilt under the supervision of Zerubbabel. There is much celebration once the foundations of the Temple have been built. Unfortunately the enemies of the Jews, other nations living in Israel at the time, offer "assistance" in the building of the Temple. When the Jews refuse their "help" they send a letter to the new king Artaxerxes to inform him of the "rebelliousness" of the Jews. Artaxerxes then stops the building of the Temple. The building is halted for 18 years.