How do we remember things? What kinds of reminders do we use to help us? Last week we unpacked the text of the third paragraph of the Shema prayer that we say every day during tefilah. “That shall be your tzitzit (fringe); look at it and recall all the mitzvot (commandments) of God and observe them, so that you do not follow your heart and eyes in your lustful urge. Thus you shall be reminded to observe all my mitzvot and to be holy to your God” (Numbers 15:39-40).
Here are some questions the Garinim (PreK and K kiddos) had about the tzitzit text and some answers we came up with:
- Do Bnei Yisrael (the Jewish people) think God will answer them when they cry out?
- Why does God want them to follow God’s rules?
- God is greedy.
- Why does God make up rules?
- Because God is the master creator. That’s what God does.
- Because God wants everyone to listen.
- God doesn’t want anyone to be in danger.
- God wants to rule just for fun.
We reflected on how tzitzit serve as a physical reminder to keep our brit (two-way promise) with God and observe the mitzvot. How can tzitzit help us remember to make good choices?
- They’re like containers for rules.
- They help keep rules in your head.
- They look old, like they’re from a long time ago when God helped Bnei Yisrael more directly.
- They remind me to pray.
The Nitzanim (3rd-4th graders) also brainstormed some physical reminders they use in their own lives:
- My dog, he reminds me to feed him, which reminds me to eat breakfast too.
- Google Classroom reminds me of everything I have to do for school.
- David! He reminds me that I need to pay attention during school.
- The alarm clock on my computer reminds me to go to class.
We took the idea of physical reminders and applied it to our brit. What can we use at Makom Community to help us remember to follow the rules or make good choices?
- Fidgets – they keep our hands busy so we can remember to make good choices
- Different colors to represent different rules we have to remember
- Other people reminding us and us reminding other people
We began narrowing down our list of guidelines and expectations that we want to uphold in our class. One of the expectations we were debating on whether or not to include was “Wear a mask and keep it on.” A student mentioned that we don’t necessarily need that one on the brit because we already know to do that. Another student countered that “we know to do everything that we’re putting on our brit, but sometimes it’s nice to have a reminder.” Eventually, the Nitzanim decided that they wanted to include it on our brit. Having the physical reminder of it on our wall will help us remember not just that we have all made a promise to wear a mask, but also why. We’ll remember that we sometimes make choices that might be inconvenient, uncomfortable, or difficult to ensure that Makom Community is a place where everyone is safe and taken care of.