Listening to Our Own Inner Voice

In chavrutah (partner text study), we listen to THREE voices: our chavrutah (study partner), the text, and what’s going on for us inside. It can be challenging to hear that voice inside, and then, to believe that your thoughts and feelings are a valuable part of a conversation about the Torah.

This week, we practiced listening to the voice inside us. And oh, my. It is simply astonishing to “hear” inside the children as they read the Torah. So many different reactions! So personal.

One thing that’s clear to me as I see the range of questions children asked this week: how deeply we get to see inside the Torah, each other, and ourselves, as we study Torah together.



Two children expressed shock at different parts of the story:



(This boy threw up his hands in the air just before he wrote, as if to say, “How could they possibly do that?!” when the brothers sit down to eat bread after throwing Yosef in the pit.)


Another fifth grader urges Yosef to FIGHT:



The fourth grader below shows his expectations about how parents are supposed to act. (“Why didn’t he (Israel, Yosef’s father) see the connection that the brothers and Joseph had a conflict and now, the brothers are bringing back Joseph’s coat with blood on it?”)





Questions about motivation, about what the story does and doesn’t tell us:








Sometimes we put things into the children’s environment because we want to provoke an initial awareness of the concept. When children begin to ask about it, we’ll turn a direct eye onto the concept. This week, someone “noticed” the word הִנֵה (hinei) that we’ve put into the translations. הִנֵה is a particularly challenging Torah word, because it means different things in different contexts, and sometimes just indicates something startling, like a fast breath drawn inward.




And finally, two running commentaries from children, as they listen and express in words what’s going on for them as they encounter the Torah text.




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