|Asseret Yemey Teshuvah|
by Dov Goldflam & Gila Ansell Brauner
Days and Dates
For older students:
The 3rd of Tishrei [the day following Rosh Hashanah] is TZOM GEDALIAH [the Fast of Gedaliah], which commemorates the death of Rabbi Gedaliah ben Achikam, who led the remnant of the Jewish People in Eretz Yisrael after the destruction of the Temple, at the hands of Yishmael ben Netanyahu [II Kings, Chap 25]. His death marked the end of the Jewish community in Israel.
The appropriate passage for study and discussion is by Haza"l [Rosh Hashana 18,72],
"To teach you that the importance of the death of a righteous man is as the burning of the House of our Lord".
The Fifth of Tishrei
This is the date on which Rabbi Akiva was captured by the Romans, as the leader and teacher of the Jewish population, who defied their decrees against Jewish life and religion. He was horribly tortured and died for his beliefs - Kiddush Hashem. [sanctification of the Holy Name].
There are several aspects to develop:
Sayers and Prayers
For intermediate and younger children:
Study the minor differences in the tefilot [services] which are added or substituted during the Ten Days of Penitence. Have the students keep a diary where they note their own efforts to improve their behaviour at this time.
Older students should be invited - but not compelled - to raise questions and dilemmas relating to their behaviour.
Shabbat Shuva Reports
The Shabbat falling during the Asseret Yemei Teshuva is known as SHABBAT SHUVA, because the Maftir reading begins "Shuva Yisrael" [Return, O Israel]. It is customary for rabbis to give a sermon in the community or synagogue on this day. Have children report in writing on one or several sermons in the next class or meeting:
* What was the line of thought presented?
One of the most beautiful and well-known prayers used to conclude services in this period is AVINU MALKENU [our Father, our King].
1. Go through the prayer, with the translation, asking students to pick out one - or two - lines which have particular importance for themselves this year.
3. Divide into groups of 5-7 students. The task is now to pick between 3 and 5 separate requests in the prayer which would bring most benefit to the People of Israel - and say why.
4. Bring everyone together. Review. Conclude with the quiet singing of the last verse of "Avinu Malkenu": "Honeinu ve'aneinu; Asse imanu tzedakah vahessed, vehoshi'einu" - "Forgive us and answer us; Deal charitably and kindly with us and bring us salvation."
The Deed and the Thought
For all students:
Our Sages say that "YOM KIPPUR will absolve us from sins committed by man against the Creator, but those committed by man against fellow man shall not be atoned by Yom Kippur, unless first absolved by one's fellow man" [i.e. forgiveness is asked and received]. The implication is, therefore, that one should arrive at Yom Kippur already having sought this forgiveness.
Organize a group session where members can make up their differences and start over. This is NOT to be run as an analysis and therapy session - allow students time to think about to whom they wish to speak and the freedom to do so in privacy.