As we approach the end of the texts for our Yosef (Joseph) theme, the children in Nitzanim v’Anafim (“Buds” for 1st-2nd grades and “Branches” for 3rd grade) are coming up against some big, real life questions.

They are thinking deeply about what causes someone to do something like throw their brother in a pit or in prison. What makes someone a nice person?

  • Child 1: Maybe Yosef [throws his brothers in prison because] they did a really mean thing to him.
  • Child 2: But Yosef is a nice person.
  • Morah Maisie: Can nice people do mean things?
  • Child 2: Maybe they would. Maybe Yosef is really sad or angry with them. Maybe he can’t control his anger so he just does it.
  • Morah Maisie: Does that mean Yosef is not a nice person anymore?
  • Child 2: He’s still a nice person, he’s just upset.
  • Child 3: Everyone gets upset.
  • Child 2: Yeah, of course! We’re nice people and we get upset!

They are wondering: do people change? How do we know? What causes them to change?

  • Child 4: I think Yosef is serious and mad. He put them (his brothers) in prison to test them and see if they were good people, if they had changed. He found out they were good and trustworthy.
  • Morah Maisie: Were they good and trustworthy before?
  • Child 4: No. They were mean and threw him in a pit.
  • Child 5: The brothers are kind of sad that he (Yosef) is gone, but they are also kind of happy because they did want him to leave. But do they still want him to leave? Or do they want him to come back? When the dad said “I will mourn my son until I die,” maybe he’s still sad, so the brothers feel bad that he’s sad and so they kind of want Yosef to come back.
  • Morah Maisie: Are you wondering if they regret what they did to Yosef?
  • Child 6: They feel bad about what they did.
  • Child 5: Maybe. But they are so mean, so maybe they don’t? I don’t know.

I know the rest of the text will only push these children to go deeper into the big questions that they are already tackling!