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Feb 09

Sorting Leviticus 19

This week, אלונים (Alonim, oak trees, for 5th and 6th grades) did something unusual with our text. In order to better understand what our text says, we cut up the פרק (perek, chapter) into chunks according to ideas. Then, we sorted the chunks into categories. 5th and 6th graders chose for themselves how to cut the chunks (Would one chunk be a whole verse?  Would one verse be cut up into a few segments?), and they named their own categories.

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One group chose to make two categories: “Caring for Others” and “for God.” Another group chose two categories (“do” and “don’t”) that they subdivided into an additional 3 categories: “No Reason Provided,” “The Reason is Adonai,” and “There is a Reason.” The four groups each had entirely different ways of thinking about the sort.

The ways in which the children struggled with the idea of קדושה (kedushah, holiness) through the sort prompted new ways of thinking about our theme. A few children noticed that the reason provided for doing the many things that the Torah says are קדושה (kedushah, holiness) is because “I am Adonai your God,” and they wondered, why does the Torah include this line so many times? While they may have noticed this before, they now have a visual of how many times this line appears in the text. Other children offered that holiness is “to be selfless” or “listening to others and not being selfish after seeing how many verses they chose to sort in the “Caring for Others” category.

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5th and 6th graders showed a lot of excitement to be interacting with the text in this unique way. They shared their ideas with each other and asked questions to understand the other person’s perspective. I am excited to see how their ideas continue to develop after this activity!

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