Hi everyone! Feel free to use this logo to promote this extra special mitzvah this year. There are many resources to consider to be part of this incredible time. I will try to list them in a separate post in the near future. Blessings and l'shanah tova!
Abba gave me a really amusing new children's craft to teach the mitzvot of mezuzot to our youngsters. I saw a lot of really creative Jewish mommies using Pez dispensers and many other containers for our special little scrolls, or "klaf" in Hebrew, to be hung on our doorposts.
But when I headed to the stores to find the Pez dispensers and other containers posted by these wonderful women, I couldn't find them in my local stores! What a dilemma I was facing. However, this was no surprise for our Abba. When we come to a roadblock, we just may have to realize He may have an alternate route to take. At the time, though, seeing as I am a mommy with a limited time frame for these shopping excursions (as I am sure some of you understand), I prayed as I walked the aisles of my local craft store and asked Abba for an alternative game plan. As the minutes ticked past, I began pleading and begging Abba. And then, in my desperation, Abba showed me His game plan with His soft voice...
What did He show me you ask? I package of kazoos. Kazoos?! I then began to chuckle as I heard that little humorous voice in my head say, "Kazuzahs. Get it?!" My desperation melted, relief set in and I started to get excited about the new game plan as I laughed and embraced this new spin on our beloved mitzvah.
I grabbed the pack of kazoos, some stickers and decorative tape, and some sticky tack to affix our "Kazuzahs" to the doorposts. Now it was onto the classroom.
I was pretty excited about class, with this new little humorous spin Abba gave me to share. But the children were, as children sometimes are, all over the place! That day I couldn't get them to focus. I had another dilemma on my hands, but Abba again had the solution! He told me, "Explain to them what 'shema' means, and then use the little kazoos to explain how we have to hear and obey what goes into our kazuzah case." I even let them blow it enough times to woo their hearts back to Abba's words. Now THAT got their little eyes and ears focused!
We went onto discuss the mitzvah at length, and read about the job of a "sofer." I printed out the word "Shema" in Hebrew and had them practice writing it with bamboo skewers and black paint telling them they were going to be "sofers" for the day. (Feel free to use feathers, which are more authentic!)
Once our little scrolls dried, we rolled them up, blew our kazuzahs a final time, and explained the prayer to say when affixing our new treasures in the entryways. (You can easily affix these "kazuzahs" with a little sticky tack from the school supplies section or a local craft store.) I told them to remember every time they passed by their "kazuzah," to remember the words on the scroll and listen/shema to our Heavenly Father. One little girl mentions "Shema" to me every time I see her at synagogue now. May YHVH receive the glory!
Here is the link to the template I used for our scrolls:
Torah Scroll Templates
Enjoy this Torah learning adventure too! Pezuzahs...Kazuzahs...what does Abba have for us next?!
The Lion of Judah is rousing now. Are you ready?! The wickedness of this world is reaching deafening decibels. Our Creator and our Lion will not turn away but come to devour evil once and for all. Hear (Shema) this song and get ready...
Just in time for Yom Teruah and the Shemittah/Sabbatical year to start, Abba led me to a means of teaching our youngsters all about these incredible mitzvot.
For those of you who have no clue yet what I am talking about when I say "Shemittah," I am referring to the commandments in the Torah:
"You may plant your land for six years and gather its crops. But during the seventh year, you must leave it alone and withdraw from it. The needy among you will then be able to eat just as you do, and whatever is left over can be eaten by wild animals. This also applies to your vineyard and your olive grove." (Exodus 23:10-11)
AND in Leviticus/Vayikra...
"God spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai, telling him to speak to the Israelites and say to them: When you come to the land that I am giving you, the land must be given a rest period, a sabbath to God. For six years you may plant your fields, prune your vineyards, and harvest your crops, but the seventh year is a sabbath of sabbaths for the land. It is God's sabbath during which you may not plant your fields, nor prune your vineyards. Do not harvest crops that grow on their own and do not gather the grapes on your unpruned vines, since it is a year of rest for the land. [What grows while] the land is resting may be eaten by you, by your male and female slaves, and by the employees and resident hands who live with you. All the crops shall be eaten by the domestic and wild animals that are in your land." (Leviticus 25:1-7)
"And if ye shall say: 'What shall we eat the seventh year? behold, we may not sow, nor gather in our increase'; then I will command My blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth produce for the three years. And ye shall sow the eighth year, and eat of the produce, the old store; until the ninth year, until her produce come in, ye shall eat the old store." (Leviticus 25:20-22)
AND in Deuteronomy/Devarim...
"At the end of every seven years, you shall celebrate the remission year. The idea of the remission year is that every creditor shall remit any debt owed by his neighbor and brother when God's remission year comes around. You may collect from the alien, but if you have any claim against your brother for a debt, you must relinquish it...." (Deuteronomy 15:1-6)
"Moses then gave them the following commandment: 'At the end of each seven years, at a fixed time on the festival of Sukkoth, after the year of release, when all Israel comes to present themselves before God your Lord, in the place that He will choose, you must read this Torah before all Israel, so that they will be able to hear it. 'You must gather together the people, the men, women, children and proselytes from your settlements, and let them hear it. They will thus learn to be in awe of God your Lord, carefully keeping all the words of this Torah. Their children, who do not know, will listen and learn to be in awe of God your Lord, as long as you live in the land which you are crossing the Jordan to occupy'." (Deuteronomy 31:10-13)
Ok...so there is a LOT to learn with the shemittah, but an exciting way to start is this fun seder idea for the younger generations or the young at heart. I gathered some simple veggie/fruit platters that I will show you below:
Say hello to Adam! I decided that in order to explain all of the mitzvot of the land release, I'd go back to Genesis/Bereshit where it all started. I introduced the children to Adam, who was healthy (hence the yummy veggies) and walking right with God in the Garden of Eden. UNTIL...
This pesky snake came along and tempted Adam's wife to eat fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I designed my serpent with just the strawberries. And here's the tree platter we made:
And so I asked the children, "When God found out that Adam sinned by eating the fruit of the forbidden tree, what did He do?" We then discussed how Adam not only was expelled from the Garden of Eden, but also would have to now work THE LAND by the sweat of his brow for the rest of his life.
The great news is, our Elohim created the Shabbat even before this sin took place. The neat part about the shemittah, as I told the kids, is that by observing YHVH's commandments, we get a chance to completely get back what it felt like to be in the Garden of Eden! For one day every week known as the Sabbath/Shabbat, and one year every seven known as the shemittah. The sin that Adam committed is now forgiven! We are no longer slaves to working the land, our debts are paid and we can walk freely knowing that our Heavenly Father and His glorious Son have provided our sustenance, physical and spiritual nourishment, for us. We just have to live it out by our acts of faith through obedience!
We also played a numbers game where we counted up to seven, and with each number the children had to name as many Scriptural things having to do with that number. For example, I would say, "The number one." And the children would say, "The first day of creation. Light. Echad. One way to the Father (Yeshua)." By the time we got to seven, we had lots of things to talk about, including the shemittah and the "seven sevens" counting up toward Shavuot and the Jubilee years! (The game idea came from the Jhub "Give It a Rest" Campaign. Will do another whole post on that one hopefully!)
Furthermore, I drew a picture of Joseph on a dry erase board. I drew the head, coat, pants, feet, and hands. I told the children in a minute they'd be able to decorate Joseph's coat and his face with whatever they thought he would have looked like. Then I asked, "Why do you think Joseph has to do with the shemittah?" (None knew.) Then I drew Joseph's hair very long. I went on to explain that Joseph is actually the first reference in the Scriptures of a Nazirite (dealing with the Hebraic thought of the Law of First Mention, "nazir," found in Genesis/Bereshit 49:26), whose hair remained uncut (just like the land was left alone). I then asked if anyone knew about Joseph's story, which some of them were very familiar with. They remembered how Joseph was sold by his brothers as a slave. I then stated, "And in the year of the shemittah, we learn that everyone is released from their debts." I questioned them, "How on earth did Joseph get out of prison?" The children were quiet. I explained that Joseph finally was released from prison for explaining Pharaoh's dream, a perplexity of two sets of seven years. By doing so, he was appointed second in command in all of Egypt, with the job of storing up food during the plentiful years, just as we store up food for the upcoming shemittah year. And by Joseph's obedience, Israel, his brothers, AND the nations were saved. Would it not be wise to follow in his footsteps as well?
Joseph is a favorite Biblical character for children. So I found it was an easy example to help walk them through the different elements of this exciting part of the Torah.
Additionally, we decorated the tables with some green tablerunners, blue and green glitter tulle for the chairs, and my own children made a Lego shemittah city to help me expound on the halacha of this year to my wonderful class! (Will do a separate post on that one.) I pray that you can bring your children into this special season in fun and engaging ways. Have fun and enjoy celebrating this extra special time of year!
May we all find ways to embrace Your commandments, Abba, and teach our children Your ways. Amen.
I stumbled across an interesting story in the Talmud (first pic), thanks to Chabad.org, that refers to this past week's Torah verses from Deuteronomy/Devarim 21:22-23. These Scriptures state that a man who is hung on a tree is a reproach to God (see pictures below, courtesy of PocketTorah app). It is quite interesting to see in the story cited on Chabad the description of identical twins: one a king, the other a criminal.
It leads me to the question: what are identical twins? Identical twins (see next pic below, courtesy of About.com ) are from a single entity before conception. One egg. So too, Yeshua was one man, split into two different roles through the ultimate act of conception: His love for humanity.
And so, as the gospel of John recounts (see next pic below, courtesy of Strong's Concordance app), we have this Talmudic story that is no longer a story, but an account of a King, who died the death of a criminal. He hung accursed on the tree with a sign that declared "King of the Jews" for all to read. Let there be no mistaking He was indeed THE King and His death was THE one described in the Torah as a reproach of God.
Furthermore, to expound on the last line of this short Talmudic story, it states that "whoever saw him would say, 'The king is hanging!"' If you look back to the gospel of John, it recounts how the sign stating "King of the Jews" was written in Hebrew, Greek and Latin. Whoever saw him WOULD be able to say, "The King is hanging!"
I beg to disagree though with the ultimate conclusion with which the story seems to end: the degradation of the King. In a natural course of events, this would be the case. However, in the action of Yeshua our Messiah, the anointed King of Israel, that degradation was in fact supernatural in itself. By fulfilling the mitzvot of the cursed man for our sakes, that act of love became His elevation and rightful place as King of Kings. This is the character of our God. HalleluYah that we serve a King who is so heroic, not slaughtering another for the sake of His God, but being cursed Himself to spare us all from that which we all rightfully deserve (the criminal's curse). May He continue to reveal Himself to us and may we learn to be more like Him, with selfless bravery on behalf of our fellow man.
Chazak chazak v'nit chazek...the King of Kings is soon coming!
Meredith Welborn is a mother of five beautiful children who has gradually integrated the Torah into her family's life as YHVH directs her. Her heart's desire is to create a forum for women to grow in the goodness of the Torah, Yah's holy instruction manual.