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May 23

Broken Telephone

Judaism grows and changes over time.

Nitzanim children have been exploring Shavuot and the way that ideas about Shavuot have changed over time. We started with ideas about Shavuot in the Torah and then moved onto exploring what the ancient early rabbis (1st-6th centuries) had to say. Now, we’re starting to talk about later developments, ideas about Shavuot that emerged after the 7th century.

On Monday, we spoke about a tradition of staying up all night to study Torah on Shavuot. This idea comes from the 16th century Kabbalists, who linked it to a rabbinic story (midrash) about a few lines in the Torah. That’s a lot of connections!

I was amazed at the way that Nitzanim children were able to express ideas about such tricky, multi-layered content. It’s incredible how our skills for talking with each other and sharing ideas have grown this year!

Here’s how one child explained her understanding of the way that ideas about Shavuot changed over time:

It’s like when you play broken telephone. It started out as one thing [in the Torah] and became completely different [according to the Kabbalists]. The new thing is not connected to the old thing.

Wow!

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