The Life Of Shimshon
Group Size: 5-30
Estimated Time: 90 minutes
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Teach about the life of Shimshon: being a Nazir, his battles with the Pelishtim
- 3 objects to represent Grapes
- Hair Cuts, and Tumah (see below)
- Large Sock
- Small Nerf Ball (for Foxtail)
Background: This week we are starting a new noseh on the Shoftim (judges). The Shoftim were a series of Jewish leaders, spanning about 400 years following Yehoshua and preceding the first Monarchy of Shaul (2500 – 2900). Shoftim is also the name of the second book of Neviim, from which most of these snifim will be drawn. Shmuel, the last of the Shoftim, traditionally authored the book.
Game 1: Hot Potato Nazir
Have all the chanichim seated in an almost-full circle. Leave a small opening in one spot to denote the beginning and end of the circle. Pick one person to stand up in the circle. Prepare three objects to symbolize three things: GRAPES, HAIR CUT, and TUMA. These are the three things that a Nazir cannot have. (The grapes can be anything purple, preferably shaped in grape cluster. An empty plastic grape-juice bottle would be terrific. The Hair Cut could be toy scissors (really ones are muktza), a wig, a bald doll, etc. Tuma can be something in the shape of a tombstone, a doll with X X in its eyes, etc.) Start one object at a time going around the circle. Meanwhile, have the people in the circle sing a random song. The circle kids keep passing the objects around. When the song ends, whoever has the object is out. However, when the objects reach the end of the circle (where the opening is) the last person can throw the object away. The person standing up must then retrieve this object and bring it back to the circle, giving it to the first person, who will start passing it around again. Anyone who is caught with an object twice is out and must leave the circle.
Explanation: The story of Shimshon begins with a man in Shevet Dan named Manoah and his wife who can’t have children. An angel comes to the lady and tells her that she will have a child, but the child must be a Nazir from the time he is born. Manoah doesn’t believe her, but then he eventually gets to see the angel also. So they have a child, name his Shimshon, and from birth he is a Nazir.
A Nazir is someone who makes a special agreement with Hashem to not do three things: 1) Can’t eat any grape products, like grape juice, raisins, and wine; 2) Can’t get a haircut; 3) Can’t become Tameh; These three things help him be closer to Hashem. When he is done (usually it lasts for a month or a year) he shaves his hair and burns it along with a korban. Shimshon was a special kind of Nazir, since he did it for life.
In our game, we were trying to avoid the grape product, the Hair Cut, and the Tumah objects.
Game 2: Foxtail Five-Hundred
Take a large sock and put a nerf ball inside, pushing it all the way down to the toe. What you now have is called a Foxtail. You throw it by grabbing the ankle part, twirling it around your head, and then letting go. (It is called a foxtail because in flight it looks like the tail of a fox.) The game of Five Hundred is played by choosing one person to be the thrower, while the rest of the chanichim stand away and wait for the thrower to throw. The Thrower first calls out a number, between 50 and 500 (in increments of 5 only). S/he then throws. Whoever catches the ball gets that number of points. The thrower then makes another throw and calls another number. Whoever gets 500 points first becomes the new thrower, and all scores are reset to 0. In normal situations, only throws that are caught without bouncing are awarded points. However, if the thrower wishes, before a throw he can call “Dead or Alive.” In this case, no matter whether or not the throw hits the ground, points are awarded.
Explanation: Shimshon lived at a time when there were no strong Jewish leaders. The Pelishtim dominated the Israelites, and made sure the Jews didn’t have any weapons. As Shimshon grew, he became a bit of a hero among the Jews. Hashem was with him and he became extremely strong. However, he wasn’t a perfect leader and he didn’t always do things right. He ended up marrying a Pelishti woman. (According to many meforship she converted). At the wedding feast, Shimshon challenged her friends to guess a riddle. She cheated and told them, so Shimshon lost. He got into a fight and killed these people, and ended up trying to get revenge. He took three hundred foxes, and between every two foxes he tied a torch to their tails. The foxes ran through the fields of the Pelishtim and burnt all their grain.
It’s a bit of a loose connection, but in this game we also played with foxtails. I think it’s a great image, one that I always remembered from Tanach, of these three hundred foxes running through the fields with torches tied to their tails.
Game 3: Radioactive Tag
Really any type of tag game will do for this section, but this is a fun version:
Decide upon the boundaries for this nuclear game of tag. Players hold hands in a circle with a radioactive particle (ball or other object) placed in the middle. The group tries to pull one of the players towards the ball. The first player (or players; there can be more than one) to be forced to touch the ball becomes the “Radioactive It. “It” tries to tag as many players as possible. Any player tagged also becomes “Radioactive” and tries to tag other players. When everyone is tagged, another round can be played. Alternatively, any player who touches the particle could be out, and play could continue until only one person hasn’t touched it.
Explanation: After Shimshon did the foxtail thing, the Pelishtim came after him and tried to catch him (like in a game of tag). He went to a stronghold and stayed there, but eventually agreed to go with the Pelishtim at the request of other Jews. However, he broke through his bonds and escaped.
Story: Tell the rest of the story of Shimshon:
Shimshon’s new wife, Delila, tried to get him to tell her the source of his strength. Three times he told her fake answers, but finally he told her the real way: if you can cut his hair, he would break his Nazirut and stop being strong. She did so and he was captured. The Pelishtim blinded him and for a party they chained him in the main hall between two big pillars. During the party, Shimshon prayed that Hashem would give him his strength back. This happened, and Shimshon pushed the two pillars out. The whole building collapsed, and Shimshon and all the Pelishtim leaders, who were at the party, died. (If you can think of a game to go with this story, perhaps something about pushing down the pillars, that could be good as well.)