What makes a place a home?
Who is in your home?
How does it feel to come home?
What is a homeland?
What is your homeland(s)?
How do you feel about the place(s) you identify as your homeland(s)?
Among what people(s) are you most comfortable? (i.e.,age group/race/relatives/activity related groups)
What makes a family?
Who do you count as part of your family? Are there non-related people that make up part of your family?
What makes a people?
LET’S TALK ABOUT ANGELS:
When do angels appear in Torah? (Abraham – circ, Sarah – name Yitzhak, Jacob – ladder)
What is the role of angels in Judaism? (they have no free will, only to perform a task)
When do we try to become like angels? (kiddusha – raising up on kadosh x3)
Why would a human want to become angelic like?
Why might an angel want to become more human?
As with many things, mirrors can be a source for good or not.
We hide mirrors during shiva so as not to be distracted by vanity. But while we were slaves in Egypt, according to the
midrash, the Israelites used them to keep our people alive.
“Once they had eaten and drunk, the women took mirrors and showed them to their husbands. She would say “I’m more beautiful than you” and through this they became accustomed to desire once more, and were fruitful and multiplied and God visited them with children...
“Through the merit of these mirrors that the women showed their husbands and re-accustomed them to desire in the midst of the slavery, were established the hosts (tzvaot) of the Israelites, as it says “All the hosts of God left Egypt” and “God brought out the Israelites from the land of Egypt in hosts”.
Later when the Tabernacle was built, the women brought mirrors….
“God said to Moses. ‘Moses, you think these are worthless? These mirrors established all the hosts in Egypt. Take them and make a basin of brass and its base for the priests, for through it the priests will sanctify themselves...’”
Tanchuma, Pekudei 9
Hagar encounters mirrors in the well which reflect for her strength to return to Abraham’s house and continue her pregnancy. Her offspring, Ishmael, would become the father of tzvaot, hosts of nations – the Arab world. How do you feel about this twist in the story? Might the mirrors from the well be connected to the mirror shards the Israelites used hundreds of years later to also produce tzvaot?
1) Have someone close their eyes. Ask them to describe what the person next to them is wearing.
2) Ask another person to close their eyes. Ask them to describe something in the room.
3) Ask a third to describe a well known object without mentioning what or where it is in enough detail that
others can identify it – this might be the Ark in your sanctuary or the Statue of Liberty.
AWARENESS CONTINUED - RUNNING FROM OURSELVES:
There are always things that make us uncomfortable, things we avoid rather than deal with. Sometimes it is people. Often it is activities we have to get done. Sometimes it is a character trait or ritual we have developed that we would like to change.
Identify for yourself one or two of these things. What would you need to make it ok for you to confront these rather than run from them?
Ezra found faith and thought it worth trying. In what do you have faith?
Are you willing to try to see things with more than your eyes?
How will you need to change to see with more than your eyes?
וְהִרְבֵּיתִי אֶת־זַרְעֲךָ כְּכוֹכְבֵי הַשָּׁמַיִם וְנָתַתִּי לְזַרְעֲךָ אֵת כָּל־הָאֲרָצֹת הָאֵל וְהִתְבָּרֲכוּ בְזַרְעֲךָ כֹּל גּוֹיֵי הָאָרֶץ:
And I will make your seed multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give to your seed all these countries; and in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed (Gen. 26:4).”
Are you ready to open a discussion on Israel/Arab relations?
Who are the seed of Abraham?
Which nations of the earth are blessed as descendants?
How can any people claim that their stories are more authentic than another people’s Divine stories? And, if that claim cannot be made, what right does anyone have to a piece of land except by war?
If war is the answer, why would there need to be rules of war and compensation for damages of war and return of land, property, art from the bounties of war?
What did Abraham take when the War of the Pieces was won? (Nothing – not even a sandal strap (Gen.14:23) )
Explain his action.
THE MUSIC OF CHAPTER 1: SHALOM ALEICHEM
This song is chanted on Friday night. In the 1600s it was sung by the Jews of Prague who were in danger on their journey from synagogue to home and they welcomed the company of angels. However, the song now is often sung at the dinner table or upon entering the home. The story is told, based on Talmud, Shabbat 119b, of two angels, one good and one bad that accompany one home on Shabbat. Picture in cartoon version the little angel and little devil sitting on one’s shoulders. If the house is ready for Shabbat the good angel says, “So may it be for the coming week” and the bad angel must agree. However, if it is a mess and the candles are not lit and no challah is available, then the bad angel gets to say, “So may it be for the coming week” and the good angel must agree.
Malechay hasharayt, angels (messengers) of service: Since angels do not have free will but are rather messengers with a task to fulfill, there can’t really be a bad angel. What might that reference indicate, i.e., what is their service?
L’Shalom vs. B’Shalom: When we bury someone, we say “v’ya(ta)nuach b’shalom” “may (s)he rest in peace”. In Torah, when Yitro departs from Moses he says, וַיֹּאמֶר יִתְרוֹ לְמֹשֶׁה, לֵךְ לְשָׁלוֹם “Go to peace – l’shalom” (Ex. 4:18)
So we bid the angels come to peace, bless us to peace, depart to peace. It indicates continued existence.
Ha-Kadosh barukh Hu ("the Holy One, blessed be He"): Since the formal Hebrew name for God is not used by traditional Jews except in prayer, formulations were developed to reference God. This one was rabbinically established in Mishna and is commonly used in Midrash.