First assignment-questions on the opening sentences of Vayikra 19, see questions in MIddle School section of blog. Due Oct.5
Assignment #2- How does one show that he or she fears (holds their parents in awe)? How is fear different from respect? Why does the Torah mention in the same sentence about the fear of parents that one must observe the Shabbat? (Rashi) Do you agree or disagree with Rashi’s interpretation? Due Oct.12
Assignment #3- Vayikra 19-sentences 11- Why does the Torah warn us not to steal? How is this commandment different from the law against stealing mentioned in the Ten Commandments? (See Rashi)
Why is lying not acceptable by the Torah? How do you feel when someone lies to you? Is there any time that it would be acceptable to lie?
Assignment #4-(This is your TEST due November 5) If you were an employer, and you had several people working for you, what would you expect your employee to do for you? What would your employee expect from you, the employer.
How do the following sentences from the Torah help you in formulating your answer?
Leviticus 19:13-Do not defraud your friend and do not steal. Do not hold back paying your worker until the morning.
Deuteronomy (Devarim) 23: 25- If you are working in your friend’s vineyard, you may eat as many grapes as you want. But do not put any grapes in your knapsack.
Deuteronomy 24:14-15- Do not hold back somebody’s pay. Pay him his daily pay before the day ends. As he is poor, he will cry out to Hashem if he is not paid. You will be guilty of a sin.
Genesis (Bereshit) 31:10- You know I worked for your father with all of my strength. (Jacob tells Rachel and Leah that he worked for their father, Lavan, for twenty years with all of his efforts.
Feel free to check commentaries such as Rashi on these sentences to help you with your answers.
Assignment #5- Do not curse the deaf or place a stumbling block before the blind. What does the Torah mean by those statements? Vayikra19:14. What is the actual meaning of these statements in a modern day context? Think of stumbling block examples, e.g., false religious direction, vaccination crisis, misleading information, self-interest. What responsibility do we have to protect people from wrong, harmful information?
Assignment #6- Leviticus 19:17-18-Why is it wrong to hate someone in one’s heart? When is it necessary to tell somebody off, and when is it better to keep quiet? What is the proper way to tell somebody off, and what is the improper way? Why is it so difficult to tell somebody off? Assignment due Monday, Nov.26. Feel free to use commentaries such as Rashi in formulating your answer. Reminder to access commentaries-Click on the sentence and commentaries will appear. Click on commentaries, and the list of commentaries will appear.
Assignment #7- Chanukah- Questions to research on Google-1. Why do we celebrate Chanukah eight days when the miracle of the oil lasted only seven days?
2. Why does the Mishna which mentions different historical events that happened in the Second Temple period not mention Chanukah altogether, even though the rabbis of the time established it as a holiday?
3. Google the following: Megillat Taanit and Chanukah. How is Chanukah described there?
4. Why is the new candle always lit first?
5. How long should the candles remain lit during the week and on Friday night?
6. What can one not do with the Chanukah candles?
Assignment #8- Love your neighbour as yourself- what does this mean? What is hateful to you do not do to someone else. Why is this interpretation the key to the Torah according to HIllel, and why does he say the rest of the Torah is commentary? Why would Rabbi Akiva consider this to the most important principle of the Torah? Can somebody be religious without ‘loving his neighbour’? Is it enough for someone to simply ‘love his neighbour’ without observing anything else? (Source_ Vayikra, Leviticus 19:18) ( Due first week of December.)
Assignment #9-Leviticus 19:35-36-Business Ethics-What do we mean by the term, ‘business ethics’?What are some issues that come up in the business world which Jewish law should address? Think about the following: employer-employee relations which we have discussed, cheating, inferior products, false advertising, unfair competition, price gouging. (Read the texts in the Torah, and then we will turn to the Shulchan Aruch to see some of the laws.)
Continuing on this topic we will look at the following: Torah’s discussion of honest weights, the Torah’s attitude toward one who does not ethically act in business. Shulchan Aruch-choshen mishpat chapter 228, halacha 6
It is forbidden to cheat or deceive somebody in business. If the product has a defect, the seller must notify the buyer. It is forbidden to make an old product look new, and sell it as new.
It is permitted to distribute candies to children to entice them to buy from one’s store. The store owner can sell a product at a cheaper price than his competition.
Questions to answer: See if you can find three examples of false advertising in the media today, and show why they are false.
Is competition good for business? What happens if competition drives somebody out of business? Can you find examples of good and bad competition? Answers due before the break)
Assignment #10-Welcome back and let’s get to work. We are going to work in groups on the questions you had in the previous assignment dealing with issues concerning business ethics and Jewish law. Let us concentrate on competition and false advertising.
We will look at Leviticus 25, sentences 14 and 17 to learn about fraud in business and the use of hurtful and misleading language.
Quotations from Shulchan Aruch-1) Hurtful words are worse than fraud, as money made from fraud can be returned. Hurtful words cannot be taken back.
2) One should not ask a salesperson how much an item costs unless that person is actually interested in buying it.
3) Do not send somebody to a store which you know does not carry the item the person wants to buy.
4) Do not remind somebody of his past deeds.
5) It is wrong to call somebody by a nickname that hurts.
6) A seller must notify the buyer if there is a defect in the product.
7) It is permissible for a store owner to give out treats to entice customers. One may even lower the price to get customers.
Why would the following six words be considered hurtful words?
Stupid, lazy, spoiled, hypocrite,bored,selfish (Psychology Today)
How would these words violate the Torah’s rule not to say hurtful words to people?
Why should people not use the following phrases?
You look tired. You’ve lost a lot of weight. You always, You never…You look great for your age. Whatever you want. (Forbes)
How are these hurtful phrases?
Come up with three examples of words or phrases a person should never use in conversation, because they might be hurtful.
Discussion about concept of Shabbat- Sources in the Torah
Assignment #11-Shabbat- end of perek Aleph of Bereshit
Exodus, chapter 20-Zachor Ve shamor
Exodus, chapter 31 -Veshamru
Exodus, chapter 35 opening sentences dealing with Shabbat and the Mishkan- 39 melachot.
Terms to become familar with: Melacha, Melechet Machshevet, shevut, muktze
Torah Study- Exodus 15 Story of the bitter waters of Marah and the connection to public Torah reading in synagogues. Review of sentences, their general meaning and their hidden messages.
Research topic of Torah reading in synagogues and issues connected to this topic. Prepare in groups of 2-3 questions based on your research.
Assignment #12- Bamidbar 10:35-36- These sentences were said by Moshe when the people of Israel travelled in the desert. These sentences are also said when the Torah is taken out of the Ark and placed back inside. What are these sentences about? Go to the last paragraph of the previous assignment and research the topic of Torah reading in synagogues. What are some of the rules and laws concerning Torah reading in synagogues? Some sources are wikipedia, chabad.org and Jewish Virtual Library. Due 1/28.
TuBishvat- sources Rosh Hashana 1:1 Mishna
Devarim, chapter 8-Shivat Haminim
Vayikra, chapter 19
Laws of Berachot-7 Minim
Definitions: Maaser, Terumah, Orlah, Shemitta
Monday, Jan.28- discuss in class the various rules regarding Torah reading on weekdays and on Shabbat, holidays, Rosh Hodesh looking at following terms: kohen, levi, yisrael, aliyah,hagbah, gelilah, maftir, haftarah, trope, yad, gabbai,
Review of sentences from sefer bamidbar mentioned above.
Beginning of chapter 11 of Bamidbar and the first listing of complaints of Bene Yisrael at beginning of chapter with use of Rashi
Pesukim- 1-9-Rashi- Questions on text- What were the people complaining about? Who were the Erev Rav? How did Hashem punish those who were complaining? What was on the menu of the slaves in Egypt? How does the Torah describe the manna? Could you find images of the manna, and share with the class information on the manna? (My Jewish Learning has an article on the manna.) Compare the text of the manna in Bamidbar with the text in Shemot describing the manna, chapter 16:31. Are the descriptions different or similar?
Feb.1 Parshat Hashavua-mishpatim-discussion of the role of the bet din in jewish law looking at the Beth Din of America website. Concepts of slavery in judaism, eye for an eye,shomrim, damages, charity and loans,evil speech, returning of lost objects. naase venishma.
Feb.4- Bamidbar- chapter 11 continued with discussion of manna, the way it looked and tasted, and why people complained. How does Moshe react to their complaints?
Feb,6-12- Comparison of texts between Shemot and Bamidbar dealing with the manna and the quail.
Review text of Shemot (Exodus) chapter 16 sentences 2-14:
Why were the people of Israel complaining?
What did they claim they had enough of in Egypt?
How will Hashem provide them food to eat?
What will come down at night and what will come down in the morning from the sky?
What was lying on top of the manna?
How does the Torah describe the manna?
Review text in sefer Bamidbar, chapter 11 sentences 4-15, 18-22, 31-33.
What kind of food do the people of Israel demand?
What menu did the Hebrews enjoy in Egypt?
How do the people of Israel describe the manna, and how does the Torah describe the manna?
How did people prepare the manna?
How does Moshe react to the complaints of the people about a lack of meat to eat?
Why will the people of Israel not enjoy eating the quail that Hashem will provide them?
How much quail fell on the earth?
What happened to the people eating the quail?
Comparison study between the texts in Shemot and Bamidbar.
How are the complaints of the people of Israel in both texts similar?
How is the menu in Shemot different from the menu in Bamidbar described by the people of Israel?
What differences can you find between the way the manna is described in Shemot and in Bamidbar?
How is Moshe’s reaction to the complaint about food in Shemot different from his reaction in Bamidbar?
How does the description of the arrival of the quail in sefer Shemot different from the description in Bamibar?
Feb. 11- Continue to work on assignment comparing accounts of manna and quail between Shemot and Bamidbar. Have students give their accounts.
Continue on to chapter 12- Moshe and Tzipporah. Miriam speaks about Moshe to Aharon. Hashem reacts. Miriam suffers tzaraat. What is happening here? Consult Rashi and also analyze the role of the prophet versus that of Moshe. Aspaklaria Hameira and Aspaklaria she’anah meira. with account of chapter 12 on Friday, Mar.8 plus parshat hashavua-brief summary.
Megillat Esther- Review of story chapter by chapter concentrating on not only the events but the topics to be derived from this book:
Assimilation-then and now
Anti-Semitism-letter of Haman, and comparison and contrast with today
No mention of Hashem’s name in Megillah-Why is this book in Tanach?
Hidden versus revealed miracles-Definition of miracles
Relationship between Esther and Achashverosh-kosher or not?
Violence at end of book-Should we skip this part?
Mar.13- Questions for review in chapter 12 Bamidbar
Why was Miriam speaking about Moshe to Aharon?
How does the word, Cushite, refer to Tzipporah, Moshe’s wife?
What special character trait does Moshe have?
How do we differentiate between the powers of prophecy possessed by Moshe and those of Miriam, Aharon and other prophets?
Why do you think MIriam was punished with a skin disease?
Review of laws of Purim- Zachor (history and halacha), mikra megilla, mishloach manot, matanot laevyonim, seudat Purim
Mar.13- continuation to examine parashat zachor and looking at some of the issues of moral consequence, connection to Purim, definition of Amalek today, examination of sources in shemot, devarim and shmuel I
Mar. 18- Beginning of parshat Shelach in sefer bamidbar dealing with Moshe sending out spies to see Canaan. Review text in chapter 13 of Numbers, and discuss why it was good or not good to send out spies. What kinds of information would you want your spies to find out? What does Moshe seek? Why do the spies come back with a false report?
Continuation of megillat Esther- looking for places referring to G-d’s hiddenness in text. Review of laws of Purim.
Mar.22- Beginning of study of Hilchot Pesach- concept of chametz and methods of elimination-Three B’s. Mechirat chametz. Examine sources in Shemot 12. Parshat Hashavua- Tzav-Korban Todah.
Mar.29- Parashat Hashavua – Shmini, Parah, dealing with the deaths of Nadav and Avihu, kashrut, tumah and taharah
April 1- Laws of Pesach=preparing the house for Pesach-cleaning, kashering, bedikah- biur-bitul chametz. Definition of chametz- Chametz be’en, taaruvet chametz, chametz bemashehu, mechirat chametz, Types of kashering- libun, hagaloh, irui, milui veirui,
April 10-Pesach-Laws of the seder- review of the various steps of the Haggadah using the Sefaria text to analyze the following: Items on seder plate and reasoning behind them, how to prepare them. Kadesh- laws of the four cups of wine, size of cup, how much to drink, type of wine or grape juice used. Concept of reclining on left side and reason. To what parts of the seder does reclining apply? What to do this year on Friday night re:Kiddush and Havdalah on Saturday night. When to light candles first and second nights of Pesach. Why do we wash our hands prior to the eating of the karpas? The four questions and why we ask them. Concept-Magid.
Sources you may use to discuss the topics above: www.aish.com-laws of the seder, www.jtsa.edu-laws of passover, www.ohr.edu-laws of fhe seder, wikipedia, jewish virtual library, ou.org/pesach.- In class asssignment to be started Friday, April 12.
April 17- Pesach issues continued: Concept of the blood libel, observance of Pesach in the ghetto and in the camps during WWII, anti-Semitism as part of Vehi Sheamdah. Soviet Passover
May 1- Shelach -story spies and their false report about the land of Israel. Why did Moshe send spies in the first place? How do we know Hashem gave him a choice? What did Hashem tell Moshe what the spies’ mission should be, and what did the people of Israel want? What instructions does Moshe give the spies? Why does he change Joshua’s name from Hoshea? Which tribe did not send spies?
May 6- Shelach- Why would the spies lie about the land of Israel? What half truth did the spies tell in order to convince the people of Israel to believe their full report? What was the purpose of bringing grapes? How did Caleb react to the report of the spies? How did the people react? Why do the spies compare themselves to grasshoppers?
Concepts of Menuval Birshut HaTorah, kedusha, morah av vaem, lifnei iver, tzedek bamishpat uvamishkal, lo taamod, hochacha, vehavta leraacha comacha, shaatnez, grudges.
May 12- Bamidbar- Understanding of the mentality of the spies who iied, and the approach of Caleb and Joshua to conquer the land. How do we understand the fear of the people of Israel to enter the land? How do they react? What is Hashem’s punishment? When did this take place? Tisha B’AV- use this point as a jumping point to the history of Churban connected to the 9 of Av. What happened on that day in Jewish History? How do we mark it today?
May 22-Preparation for Shavuot- What is shavuot? why do we celebrate it? Why does the Torah not give a specific date for the holiday? What day of what month is it celebrated? How many days of the Omer are there? What happened on Shavuot? Why is Divine Revelation so important in Judaism? What are some of the Ten Commandments? Why is it customary to eat dairy on Shavuot? What are some of the names given to this holiday and why? Why do people stay up all night and learn Torah the first night of Shavuot? JunWhy is it customary to eat dairy on this holiday? Why do we read the book of Ruth on Shavuot?
Book of Ruth- Who was Ruth? What is her connection to the holiday of Shavuot? What do we understand from her comments to Naomi about converting to Judaism? What is the connection between the conversion story of Ruth to modern day conversion issues? Why is Ruth known as the prime example of Chesed?
May 31- continuation of book of Ruth, brief lesson on Bechukotai, class work on topic involving development of halacha.
June 3- Chapter 14 of bamidbar-Reaction of the people of Israel. Why did they react so negatively about the land, and why did they want to return to the land where they were enslaved? How does Moshe persuade Hashem not to destroy Israel?
Continuation on Halacha project, and continuation in chapter 2 of Ruth dealing with her going to the field, meeting Boaz and his chesed to her, and her chesed to Naomi. Speak of concept of yibum.
Review of Matan Torah.
parshat hashavua bamidbar-census story of king david and census shmuel bet 24
June 12- analysis of reasons for the fast of 17th of Tammuz and 9Av. massechet taanit last perek- research topics