Adar Bet 5771 [email protected]
Written by Nechama Retting, Director of Education for Shlock Rock
Welcome to Shlock Rock Educator’s Newsletter Volume 26. Our goal is to give you some new ideas for teaching about Mitzvot & Middot, Torah, Israel and the Holidays. Visit our website at www.shlockrock.com, click on Educators Corner to view our back issues.
Adult Learning: This month we will learn about the Birkat HaMazon which is thanking Hashem after we eat. It is also called Benching (or Blessing after meals) and comes from Devarim 8:10 (Parsha Ekev). “We must remember to thank Hashem for the sustenance provided for us.”
Birkat HaMazon can be found in any Siddur and is traditionally said after eating a meal that contained bread, or required the bracha HaMotzee. HaMotzee Lechem Min Ha’aretz (or HaMotzee) is the bracha said before eating a full meal, of bread (made from wheat, barley, rye, oats or spelt).
Birkat HaMazon has 4 basic parts to it. We are thanking Hashem for providing us with the proper nourishment (for giving us sustenance) and for giving us a good land (Israel), for Jerusalem and for everything that Hashem has given us. It is said that Moshe (Moses) wrote the first part of the Birkat referring to the manna that Hashem provided for B’nai Yisrael (the Jewish people) in the desert (giving us sustenance).
The second part is said to be written be Yehoshua (Joshua) as the people entered into the land of Israel (Canaan in Biblical times) (for giving us a good land). The third part is said to be written by David and Solomon (regarding, first the protecting of Jerusalem, and later, a desire to return to the Temple in Jerusalem) and the last part is said to be written by the Rabbis of Yavneh (Thanking for all that we have from Hashem. “Never have we lacked, and never may we lack.”)
Some of the Birkat HaMazon’s text was based on Abraham and Sarah’s hospitality. They continuously invited guests into their tent (that’s the mitzvah of Hachnasat Orchim), and always served their guests food. When their guests were satisfied, and wanted to thank them, they always reminded the guests to “Thank Hashem, the source of all blessings, whose bounty they enjoyed!” (Sotah 10b) Also see Parsha Vayera.
Suggested Shlock Rock Songs: "Don't Forget to Bench", "Everybody Say Amen" and "Three Times a Day" from the CD Shlock Rock for Kids Party Time!, "Brochos Time" from the CD Shlock Rock 5 ½ Kosher Police, "This Bracha" and "When we Make Kiddush" from Shlock Rock for Kids Volume 1, "The Al Hamichya Song" from Shlock Rock for Kids Volume 3 (We’re in the Band). To hear the songs, click here: kids songs , original songs, parody songs and Hebrew songs then click on the CD, then the song you want to hear. You can download songs to your computer or MP3 player and burn a CD for only $.99-$1.25 per song just click HERE.
Suggested Activities to try with your students or family:
Discussion/Activity: Listen to the song "Don't Forget to Bench", and discuss the lyrics. Why is it important to thank Hashem before we eat and after we eat? What does it mean to be a Mensch?
Make a “Mensch Jar”. When you catch one of the children behaving in a way that befits a Mensch, add a marble. When your “Mensch Jar” is full, have a party! Another way to do this is to write down the “Menschlekite” behavior on a piece of paper and read all the notes before Shabbat snack at school. Remember to send home the “Kvell-o-grams” so parents can enjoy them as well!
Dramatic play: Act out the story of Abraham and Sarah inviting guests to their tent (Parsha Vayera). Have costumes, a tent (or a sheet thrown over a table), play food, etc… available. Have “Abraham” and “Sarah” pretend to offer their guests food (remember to wash the guest’s feet!) and remind the guests that “it’s time to thank Hashem, for all we have”.
Science/Baking: The first part of Benching comes from when Hashem provided manna in the desert to the Jewish people. Manna was provided to B’nai Yisrael on 6 days (on Friday they were instructed to collect a double portion, even before the laws of Shabbat were given! – See Parasha Beshallach). Bake challah with the children. It is said that manna could taste like whatever you wanted it to taste like. After the dough has risen, have the children add whatever they like to the dough before baking (i.e. chocolate chips, cinnamon and sugar, sesame seeds, raisins, etc…). For challah recipes and the bracha (on separating challah) click here.
After baking, make sure the children ritually wash, and say HaMotzee. Then when you are finished eating, and are satisfied, “Don’t Forget to Bench!” J
Project: To help bring the idea of saying Birkat HaMazon home to families, make a “Don’t Forget to Bench” banner. Have the children decorate the border of a piece of poster board and (if they are older they can do it themselves) then in the center write in the words: Don’t Forget To Bench!! This could be decorated with food pictures from magazines or whatever foam shapes, paper scraps, paint and glitter you have. You could include a copy of the prayer as well, please remind families to be respectful of God’s name on the paper.
***Please feel free to share this newsletter!! If you know someone who wants to be added to the list have them email me at [email protected]. To see our back issues go to www.shlockrock.com and click on Educators Corner ***