Our small Monday group of ענפים (Anafim, “branches” for 3rd-4th grade children) was wondering about how many conversations the early Rabbis wrote down, so we took an impromptu trip to visit the תלמוד (Talmud- one of the core compendia of Rabbinic literature). They asked tons of questions, bouncing off of each others’ observations and ideas, and also made a lot of connections with things they already knew.

Child 1: What are all those different sections of writing?

Child 2: Isn’t the middle part the one that comes first? The Mishna?”

Morah Leah: Well, look, this section begins with a big letter מ (Mem), which identifies one layer of text, but this next part in the center section has a big ג מ (Gimmel mem)…

Child 2: like ‘Gemara!’

Child 3: Wait, so this is already two sets of ideas? Then what’s the stuff around the edges? More later rabbis?

Child 1: Like when we put our ideas on post-its.


Child 2: Look! The books are numbered with גימטריה (Gimatria, a system of writing numbers with Hebrew letters). See? Aleph– One. Bet– two. Gimmel


Later, on our way out:

Child 1: Hey, what’s that one? The blue one.

Morah Leah: What does it say?

Child 2: ha…zohar. Zohar?

Child 1: Oh, the Zohar!

Child 3: The one where the guy said…

Child 1: He said he found an ancient text from the Rabbis, but maybe he wrote it himself…

Child 3: And the story we read about welcoming guests with a joyful face into the sukkah. The special guest!

Child 1: It says, ta chazi mah k’tiv…

Morah Leah: ‘Look. As it is written…’ so it sounds like it’s quoting the Torah…

Child 3: MORE commentary!




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