The guys are at it again...and KILLED IT! Relevant (with the upcoming film release of Disney's "Lion King" remake), Six13 has a knack for aligning themselves just right with the current wave of interest in all things cultural. Well done, guys! Especially when you allude to the movie scenes and parody "Hakuna Matata." Gals, check it out and add it to this year's Passover playlist:
Wowsers was this fun tonight!
Obviously, we didn't wait until Passover to get on this yummy seder, because, well....LOOK AT THAT PLATE! A few weeks ago I had registered to attend a chocolate seder event hosted by PJ Library of South Palm Beach County. I was SO looking forward to the event and how our seder plate would be dazzled with chocolate!
But what happened, as is the Murphy's Law of Motherhood? Not one, but all FIVE of my children got sick and we couldn't go. Total bummer.
However, don't forget who we serve and He certainly loves me enough to not have me miss all the fun. Thankfully, a dear friend of mine attended the seder, took pictures of everything that took place, including the Chocolate Haggadah. Score!
She sent it to me earlier this afternoon. Guess when I hosted our mini chocolate seder? You guessed it...right after dinner. LOL. Anyone who knows me personally would fully understand this.
I had a blast finding items for the plate. Our plate looked a tad bit different than the haggadah outlined, only due to a lack of tootsie rolls in our area. We went to several stores, and apparently in our new town, they don't have the same affinity for them as our own family does as well as PJ Library! But we adjusted, and pictured above you can see all the goodies we had: Twizzler Peelz and Nerd Rope (For the taskmaster's whips instead of the Tootsie Roll Shankbone), a Cadbury Creme Egg (omit if you don't want to do it of course), Lindt's 90% Cocoa bar (the looks on my family's face confirmed it's bitterness...could've been horseradish from what I witnessed!), a chocolate covered strawberry, Andes Candy, a Brownie Brittle (both Organic and NON-GMO...like it matters lol), and chocolate syrup.
I'd totally add some milk and do chocolate milk. For those of us in the house who don't eat sugar, we had plenty of sweet alternatives that we incorporated instead. Have fun with it...it's CHOCOLATE OF COURSE!!!
Below is the PJ Library & PJ Our Way Seder Plate Guide. I hope you all have a fantastic time with this one:
Alright, I know we're well into the month of Elul and our preparations for the high holy days, but I wanted to skip ahead and share an idea you may want to keep in mind for Sukkot this year. This is one of those easy but memorable elements to add to your sukkah!
A few years ago, I happened to run across a photo similar to the one I've posted above, of an outdoor suspended table. It is super simple to assemble and a really cool concept for this feast of the Lord. I have actually tried this project out, so I tell you from experience this will not be a tough task to undertake.
First find yourself a tabletop. Our first year implementing our table we used an old closet door, which gave it a little bit of extra detail that I was looking for in our sukkah. All you need to do is drill four holes near the four corners of your tabletop, knot the rope on the bottom side of the table, secure to the top of your sukkah, and voila! Instant table. We added extra decorations to the table, adorning ours with Scripture verses and mirrors for an artsy effect, but you can personalize your table however the Ruach HaKodesh/Holy Spirit leads! It's really fun to have the chance to put your own personal touch into this project.
With a suspended table, there are more positive aspects to this contraption than just the fact that it's an interesting piece. Firstly, without the typical table legs, you can actually get more seating in your sukkah. That means more people can join the party OR you have a lot more legroom. Definitely a bonus. Furthermore, and my favorite aspect personally, is how this centerpiece becomes the focal point of this family time. And where will it remind us all of this incredible time of togetherness with the Lord and our greater community of family and friends? Heaven. Every time I visited my sukkah I remembered where my food came from. And even my Bible studies where I'd sit and commune with the Lord in His word I couldn't help but see His greater purpose to keep my eyes looking heavenward.
I pray your upcoming high holy days are a time of complete devotion to our King of Kings. He tabernacled with us; the majesty of the heavens came down to earth to dwell here and commune with us. What incredible intimacy our Creator desires; many blessings to you all...be strengthened and keep your eyes focused above!
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.
With the upcoming holy days arriving with the waxing moon crescent, we have added a new recipe to our list of healthy treats. Personally, I have been using these candies as a little reward for attentive ears during Torah readings. Especially when listening in Hebrew! And I handsomely reward myself as well, naturally...::slyly grinning::
Those Maccabeats...love them! Here is their latest release for Shabbat! Enjoy your week while the countdown 'til Shabbat continues!
Do not forget that the Hebrew word "batach" (usually translated as "trust" in English) is really a word that depicts supreme protection. Batach's root letters are the "Bet" (a Hebrew picture of a house), "Tet" (a Hebrew picture of a basket surrounding the object and carrying it), and a "Chet" (a Hebrew picture of a wall). All three should again assert you that YOU are the contents inside the house, the basket and the wall. Abba will guard you, surround you, and protect you so that is why you should TRUST Him. He is affirming it in the word pictures, if you haven't experienced it enough personally and read all of His supernatural provisions for all of creation. (Can I get a Dayenu, please?!) He even triumphed over death, which was the worst and most certain thing in life (as Solomon spoke). You are hemmed in, safe and sound. So rest and trust in Him today!
(This diagram comes in handy for those of you digging deeper into the Hebrew Scriptures. Thank you to www.bridgesforpeace.com for posting it!)
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.