Tefillah Texts Unit

Enduring Understandings

  • Prayer is multi-faceted and dynamic.
  • Studying text in hevruta deepens our understandings and connections to text.
  • Prayer can be different things to different people, and it can be different things to ourselves at different times.
  • Prayer can fit different moods.
  • Hevruta text study is a back and forth between two active and engaged participants and the text.

Essential Questions

  • What is the role of wonder in tefillah?
  • What is kavannah?
  • What does prayer mean to me personally?
  • What does it mean to be fully engaged with text?

Outline of Mondays

Date
Focus
4/26
Learning “how to” do hevruta text study
5/3
Wonder
5/17
Kavannah: texts about fixed prayer vs. flexible prayer?
"We must remember, however, that prescribed prayers, although they constitute the framework of Jewish worship, are certainly not the whole of it. The very Rabbis who fixed the times for prayer and established the prayers to be recited also said: "Do not make your prayer a fixed thing." (Pirke Avot; chapters 2:18) The individual is encouraged to put his own fresh meanings into the received text, to formulate his own prayers too, and to allow for a period of preparation for prayer in order to come to it in a receptive mood."
The Service of the Heart; Evelyn Garfiel pp. 22-23
"Rabbi Shimon said: Be careful in the reciting of the Shema and in prayer. When you pray do not make your prayer a form of routine but a plea for mercy and supplications before God, for it is written (Joel 2:13), "For he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing." Do not be wicked in your own mind."
Pirke Avot 2:18

5/24
Nature
6/7
Assessment: Talmud page & write-up
6/14
Public audience forum

Kavanah in Prayer

Monday 5/17 with grades 4 and 5

Enduring Understandings

  • Prayer is multi-faceted and dynamic.
  • Studying text in hevruta deepens our understandings and connections to text.
  • Prayer can be different things to different people, and it can be different things to ourselves at different times.
  • Prayer can fit different moods.
  • Hevruta text study is a back and forth between two active and engaged participants and the text.
  • Prayer can be enriched by both structure and personal meaning

Essential Questions

  • What is the role of personal meaning in tefillah?
  • What is kavannah?
  • What does prayer mean to me personally?
  • What does it mean to be fully engaged with text?
Knowledge Outcomes: Students will know what the role of kavanah/intention is in prayer; students will know the advantages and disadvantages of fixed prayer versus personal/not fixed prayer
Skill Outcomes: Students will know how to think about these advantages/disadvantages and use these ideas in their own prayer (later on?)

Activities

Transition: Students are transitioning from morning assembly with their siddurim.
*Make sure the texts are ready to be handed out*
As students enter, I will instruct them to find a place to sit with their Tefillah Hevruta partner
  • Gabe and Aaron
  • Kevin and Mark
  • Micah and Jacob K.
  • Jordan + Lee + Eitan
  • Jacob H. + Jeremiah
  • Sandy + Sally
  • Sonya + Emma
  • Chava + Lily
  • Jessica + Jasmine
  • Natalie + Molly
  • Daniel + Penina
  • Alicia + Josh
  • Lyndsay + Emmett
Hook: With your hevruta, read all three texts. If you get to really hard word, please try to use context or a dictionary to try to determine the meaning. You can raise your hand to ask Mrs. Woods, Eliana or myself what it means. I will also write some of the words on the board and their meanings. Be sure to read ALL THREE texts before deciding on which one to focus on first. We will stop 6 minutes before the end of the period to share some thoughts.
  • Ask one or two students if they can repeat the directions in their own words.
  • Ask the helpers to hand out the texts, and tell the students to begin.
  • Students will have most of the period to work on this.
I will write the following words and definitions on the board:
  • Established: made, created, decided
  • Recited: said out loud (or not), practiced
  • Confronts: to bring in front of, to deal with directly
  • Affirmations: a thought or idea that you believe
  • Prods: pushes, encourages
  • Eloquently: well said, beautifully stated
  • Spontaneous: sudden, without planning
  • Utilize: use, make use of
  • Variations: differences
  • Enriched: made better
Wrap-up
  • At 8:39, students will stop with their work, and I will ask if anyone chose to focus on the first text. What do you think it means to have a fixed prayer? How do you try to put fresh meaning into your prayers?
  • Second text: Any thoughts?
  • Third text: Any thoughts?
  • Fourth grade will go down to their classroom with Mrs. Woods, while fifth grade transitions to Judaic studies.

Prayer in Nature

Monday 5/24 with grades 4 and 5

Enduring Understandings

  • Prayer is multi-faceted and dynamic.
  • Studying text in hevruta deepens our understandings and connections to text.
  • Prayer can be different things to different people, and it can be different things to ourselves at different times.
  • Prayer can fit different moods
  • Being in nature can set a different mood for prayer
  • Hevruta text study is a back and forth between two active and engaged participants and the text.
  • Prayer in nature can have profound effects on a person's relationship with prayer
  • Being in nature can deepen and transform prayer

Essential Questions

  • What is the role of nature meaning in tefillah?
  • How does being in nature inspire and deepen prayer?
  • Does being in nature deepen and inspire prayer?
  • What does it mean to be fully engaged with prayer?
  • What are the conditions/criteria for being fully engaged in prayer?
Knowledge Outcomes: Students will think about how being in nature changes/affects/informs prayer
Skill Outcomes: Students will know how to use nature as an inspiration for prayer

Activities

Transition: Students are transitioning from morning assembly with their siddurim. I would like for them to go directly outside. This will depend on the weather. I would like for them to go into nature and read their prayer texts silently and aloud. Then they will come together with their hevruta and discuss the texts. (Nature texts.doc) Students will need something to write on and with. We will sit outdoors on the grass behind the school.
*Make sure the texts/questions are ready to be handed out*
  • Gabe and Aaron
  • Kevin and Mark
  • Micah and Jacob K.
  • Jordan + Lee + Eitan
  • Jacob H. + Jeremiah
  • Sandy + Sally
  • Sonya + Emma
  • Chava + Lily
  • Jessica + Jasmine
  • Natalie + Molly
  • Daniel + Penina
  • Alicia + Josh
  • Lyndsay + Emmett
Wrap-up
  • At 8:30, students will come together in a circle on the grass. We will discuss the texts.
  • Is there anything about nature that makes you more receptive for prayer?
  • What are you thinking about when you pray in nature? When you pray with nature in mind?
  • How does being inside change the mood of prayer?
  • How does being outside enhance or detract from the purpose of prayer? (You will have to have some personal concept of the purpose of prayer)
  • How can you personally use being in nature as a way to enhance your prayer?

Texts

Directions:
  1. Read all 3 texts silently and aloud. Choose one to begin focusing on.
  2. Discuss the following questions and record your responses.
"Standing on an empty beach, we look back across the sand stretching as far as the eye can see. Lost from our sight is not what lies beyond the horizon, but rather the millions of grains of sand lying at our feet. All those millions make up this sandy vista, but we only perceive the mass whole. A life of prayer is to make us aware of the millions of moments that together make up the sandy beach of our individual lives. As small as each of us is in the vista of the universe, as fleeting as this moment is, this moment and myself are integral parts of the tapestry of existence."
- Rabbi Michael Strassfeld, "Prayer as a Way of Being"
What analogy does Rabbi Stassfeld use to explain the purpose of prayer? Why do you think he uses this analogy?
How does prayer help us, according to Rabbi Strassfeld?

What does it mean to be “aware of the millions of moments that together make up the sandy beach of our individual lives? Can you think of an example in your life?
Write a “big idea sentence” that you get from this text.

"Rabbi Nahman of Breslov instructed his followers to engage in hitbodedut--to speak with God in the field for an hour every day. In explaining Rebbe Nahman's teachings, Rabbi Natan Greenberg stated that real prayer involves conversation with the natural world around a person. Indeed, the strength of prayer comes from the Divine spiritual energy flowing from nature. A person needs all the spiritual energy of the earth to give strength to his or her prayer."
- Drew Kaplan, "Praying in the Fields"
According to this text, what strengthens prayer?
Explain how to engage in a conversation with the natural world. How might this help a person pray?
How might you (or someone else) use “conversation with the natural world” in your (or their) prayer?
Write a “big idea sentence” that you get from this text.

Kavanah כונהAs human beings,
help us to remember
that we are a part of nature.
We are not the best
or the worst of nature
and G-d's creations,
but
we are
the most responsible.-Siddur Mikor-Hayyim – The Source of Life, Rabbi Henry M. Shreibman
What does it mean that we are the “most responsible” of G-d's creations?
Have you ever felt responsible for nature? Explain.
Write a “big idea sentence” that you get from this text.
Explain how you (or someone) might use this poem in prayer? How would this poem inform your (or their) prayer?










List of Tefillot

Modeh Ani
Torah Tzuah
Mah Tovu
Adon Olam
Igdal
La'asok bedivrei Torah
Birkot Hashahar
Baruch She'amar
Ashrei
Hallelu Yah Hallelu Adonai L'bekidsho
Yishtabach
Hatzi Kaddish
Barchu
Shema v'ahavat
V'haya Am Shemoah
Veyamar Tzitzit
Emet
Mi Camocha
Tzur Yisrael
Avot
Givurot
Kedushah
Middle Birkot
Sim Shalom
Kiryat HaTorah
Ein Ka-Likinu
Kiddush Shalom
Aleinu
Hallel
Kabbalat Shabbat
Az Yishir