In contrast to the regular program and in preparation for Rosh Hashanah we suggest that you have 2 separate discussions with your children this week.
(This outline was published for the past years . For this special Corona year-we have added a few points at the end of each discussion. You may skip to them earlier on in your discussion should you wish to do so.)
The suggested time for these discussions is about 15 minutes each. The suggested place for these discussions is at 2 of the 3 Shabbos meals.
Before you begin please have a special nosh prepared. One that is larger in quality or quantity then what you normally give. Launch your discussion by giving out the special nosh first. Then tell your children that this is a special pre-Rosh Hashanah discussion.
Discussion One is to encourage and motivate our children on to more of the same. The more they see their success in making Hashem proud of them the more they will be encouraged to continue and improve in making Hashem proud of them. Please do not make the mistake of thinking that such discussions bring to haughtiness and complacency. We have found the exact opposite to be true.
Success breeds success and when children (and adults) realize what wonderful things they have done it brings them to do more and more and more…..
Discussion Two is in the way of heightening our awareness of Hashem’s kindliness and love, thus bringing us to accept Him as our King.
Please tell your children the following:
We are now in the last Shabbos of the year. It is time to take stock and make a cheshbon hanefesh for the past year. But this cheshbon hanefesh is going to be a very special one.
We are going to calculate together how much nachas you have given Hashem this year.
We are going to calculate together how many good things you have done this year.
Please make sure to encourage your children to add on more than is written here.
If you find the exercises cumbersome or tedious then just do Questions 1, 4, & 5.
Bezras Hashem let’s begin.
Please ask your children how many times they have said the blessing of Shehakol this year? (Calculate with the children the various foods that one makes a Shehakol on.
Ask them how many times they have eaten these foods daily, weekly, monthly, and throughout the year in general. Then calculate how many drinks they’ve had.
How many cups of water how many cups of milk how many cups of juice how many cups of soda, how many cups of other types of drinks and so on. Please be aware that you will not be able to come to a clear total as the numbers will be too large. That is fine, in fact that is the point of this discussion, to impress upon our children to what an enormous degree they have made nachas for Hashem this year.)
AT THIS POINT PLEASE SAY TO YOUR CHILDREN-
“DO YOU REALIZE HOW MUCH NACHAS YOU HAVE GIVEN HASHEM THIS YEAR? ”
Please ask your children how many words of Torah they have uttered this year.
(This is relevant to boys and girls as well. Girls also get a mitzvah when they learn Torah. Please note that this too will be too difficult to calculate. Consequently try to calculate one day’s worth, one weeks worth, one month and then one year. Please be aware that you will still not be able to come to an amount as the numbers will be too large. That is fine, in fact that is the point of this discussion, to impress upon our children to what an enormous degree they have made nachas for Hashem this year.)
AT THIS POINT PLEASE SAY TO YOUR CHILDREN ONCE AGAIN-“DO YOU REALIZE HOW MUCH NACHAS YOU HAVE GIVEN HASHEM THIS YEAR? ”
Yeshivah for Girls and Boys.
Please ask your children how many hours they have spent in yeshivah this year. Please stress that every minute in yeshiva is a mizvah. Calculations are as in the above 2 questions).
AT THIS POINT PLEASE SAY TO YOUR CHILDREN ONCE AGAIN-FOR THE THIRD TIME-, “DO YOU REALIZE HOW MUCH NACHAS YOU HAVE GIVEN HASHEM THIS YEAR?”
Mitzvos, Middos, Maasim Tovim.
Please ask your children 1. How many mitzvos have they performed this year. How many Hours have they kept Shabbos? How many hours have the boys worn zizis and a kipah. How many hours have the girls been dressed appropriately? How many other mizvos have they performed (such as eating matzah, sitting in a sukkah, hearing the shofar, hearing the Megilla reading, hearing the Torah reading. Please give your children a chance to come up with more mizvos) 2. How many acts of kindliness have they performed this year? (Recipients include others at school, friends, neighbors, siblings, parents and so on). Ask them if they ever a. Handed anything to someone who couldn’t reach b. Shared a toy or gave someone from something they had such as nosh c. Helped someone carry something d. Helped someone lift something e. Helped someone find something f. Gave anyone a gift.
AT THIS POINT PLEASE SAY TO YOUR CHILDREN ONCE AGAIN-FOR THE FOURTH TIME-, “DO YOU REALIZE HOW MUCH NACHAS YOU HAVE GIVEN HASHEM THIS YEAR?”
Words of Kindliness.
How many words of kindliness have they said this year?
1. How many greetings have they given this year-such as good morning, good night, good Shabbos, how are you, what’s doing, how are you feeling, is everything okay and so on. Every greeting and taking interest in another person is a mitzvah.
2. How many blessings have they given this year such as, hazlacha, be well, kol tuv, be blessed, mazal tov, have a good day, refuah sheleima, and so on.
3. How many words of praise and compliments. Such as that was really good, you are smart, you are put together, I like that, what you did came out very nice, your room is clean, your cookies taste good, that was delicious and so on.
4. How many words of thanks have they said this year such as thank you, I appreciate that, that was a big help for me, and more.
Question 6 - Corona.
Part 1: How hard did you try this year?
This year was a quarantine and lock down year. There were so many times that you tried to
1) Listen to your parents. 2) Not fight with your siblings 3) Behave 4) Help 5) Listen to classes on zoom or on the phone 6) Do homework and school work 7) learn extra 8) Help
And even though you may have not succeeded Hashem is so proud of your efforts!
At this point tell your children that you must conclude the discussion but first have them all repeat together with you , DO I REALIZE HOW MUCH NACHAS I HAVE GIVEN HASHEM THIS YEAR!!??
You can conclude by saying Hashem is very proud of you and so am I!
Part 2: You were important this year more than ever before.
Moishie, Chazal say that the Torah of young boys (tinokos shel beis rabban) holds up the world. Your Torah holds up the world! And this past year, when so much of your Torah and the Torah of other young children has been missing, the entire world has suffered so much. My precious, Moishie, know that the entire world stands on you and your Torah. My precious, Tzipporah, there is no question that your tzinus is holding up the world. Your tzinus has never been as important as now. Please know how important and how proud Hashem is with both of you for holding up the world.
Please tell your children the following: We are now in the last Shabbos of the year. It is time to take stock and make a cheshbon hanefesh (introspection) for the past year. But this cheshbon hanefesh is going to be a very special one. We are going to calculate together how much Hashem has done for us this year. Please make sure to encourage your children to add on more than is written here. If you find the exercises cumbersome or tedious then just questions 1, 5, 6, 7, and continue on to question 8.
Question 1. TREATS.
As an introduction to the question please ask your children to participate in this exercise. Please allow your children to be active participants and contributors to this discussion.
Ask your children if they have had treats this year. Of course they will smile. Then divide the treats according to categories and ask them accordingly.
1. Ices and Ice Cream. Who had ices or ice cream this year? How many times?
2. Candy. Who had candy this year? What types? How many times?
3. Chocolate. Who had chocolate this year? What types? How many times?
4. Nosh. Who had salty nosh this year such as bissly potato chips and so on. What types? How many times?
5. Cakes and cookies. Who had cakes and cookies this year? What types? How many times?
6. Sweet drinks?
7. Good food?
8. Good desserts?
9. Good food at weddings, bar mizvas, bris and kiddushes. How many times?
AT THIS POINT SAY TOGETHER WITH YOUR CHILDREN , HASHEM THANK YOU FOR ALL THE TREATS SWEETS AND GOOD FOOD I HAD THIS YEAR.
Question 2. Laughter and Fun.
How many times did they have fun this year?
How many games did they play this year?
How many trips did they go on this year?
How many gifts did they receive this year?
How many songs they listened to this year?
How many times have they laughed this year.
AT THIS POINT SAY TOGETHER WITH YOUR CHILDREN, HASHEM THANK YOU FOR ALL THE FUN AND GOOD TIMES I HAD THIS YEAR.
Question 3. Feet
As an introduction to the question please ask your children to estimate how many steps it takes to walk from the Shabbos table to the kitchen.
Also ask them to estimate how long it takes.
(Please do not actually walk there and have your children measure it as Rabbi Y. Berkowitz told us that there may be a halachic shayla of measuring on Shabbos. Whereas making these calculations without measuring is permissible).
Then ask your children to count how many steps you one takes in a minute.
Then ask your children how many steps they have taken this year?
(Of course we are not walking every second and so the calculations must be in accordance.)
Let them try to calculate for just a few short moments and then say that it is not possible to calculate.
AT THIS POINT SAY TOGETHER WITH YOUR CHILDREN, HASHEM, THANK YOU THAT I CAN WALK. HASHEM THANK YOU FOR ALL THE STEPS I TOOK THIS YEAR.
Question 4. Breathing.
How many breaths have we taken today? This week? This month? This year?
(Our calculations came to over 7 million)
Do we decide to breath or it happens automatically? Who set it up like this?
If we would have to remember to breath how dangerous would it be?
AT THIS POINT SAY TOGETHER WITH YOUR CHILDREN, HASHEM, THANK YOU THAT I BREATH WITHOUT EVEN THINKING ABOUT IT .HASHEM THANK YOU FOR ALL THE BREATHS I TOOK THIS YEAR.
Question 5. Eyes.
How many things do we see right now (people, furniture, books, plates, food, windows, etc.)? How many things have we seen today? How many things have we seen this year?
AT THIS POINT SAY TOGETHER WITH YOUR CHILDREN, HASHEM, THANK YOU THAT I CAN SEE. HASHEM THANK YOU FOR ALL THE TIMES I USED MY EYES THIS YEAR.
QUESTION 6. Hands.
As an introduction to the question please ask your children to participate in this exercise. Tell them that for the next few minutes no one is allowed to use their hands. Then ask them specifically to do things that require hands, such as passing a plate (a plastic one of course), opening a bottle of drink, adjusting one’s eyeglasses, putting on or taking off a wristwatch, eating food, picking up a kipa that fell off one’s head and putting it back on. As they all struggle to perform these tasks and everyone laughs, then tell everyone to stop. Now say to everyone that they can use their hands.
At this point please ask your children, how many times they have used their hands this year. Let them try to calculate for just a few short moments and then say that it is not possible to calculate. (I once attempted to calculate on one Erev Shabbos from about 10am-6pm. The number I came out with was 5000+).
AT THIS POINT SAY TOGETHER WITH YOUR CHILDREN, HASHEM, THANK YOU THAT I HAVE HANDS. HASHEM THANK YOU FOR ALL THE TIMES I USED MY HANDS THIS YEAR.
Question 6. Our Mouth and Our Words.
Share with your children the statistics that say that a person speaks about 40,000 words a day (see Positive Word Power by the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation). That’s 14 million plus words a year, more than the breaths we take!!
AT THIS POINT SAY TOGETHER WITH YOUR CHILDREN: HASHEM, THANK YOU FOR THE SO MANY THINGS YOU GAVE US THIS YEAR, INCLUDING ALL THE THINGS WE DID NOT MENTION HERE.
Question 7. A Corona Year
This year we have more to be thankful than ever before as we could not have minyanim, go to shul, celebrate simchos, go to school and more. Together with your children think of all the things we took for granted and that Corona taught us to really appreciate!
At this point ask your children how we can pay Hashem back.
In case they answer that we do pay him back by giving him nachas, (as discussed in Discussion #1) say, “That is true, still who gives who more? Hashem does for us so much more (understatement of all time) than we do for him.
If so how can we reciprocate?”
(In this case don’t wait for their answer- just pause and then answer yourself)
The answer is that we can be loyal to Hashem and make him for the King. And this is the time to do it, on Rosh Hashanah.
Please ask your children. How do we make Hashem the King?
The answer is that we use all our faculties to do his will.
Then tell them that we are going to focus on one area in which we will make Hashem the King, our mouths and our words.
Then please tell your children that you will be making a special contest, just for Rosh Hashanah. Whoever makes Hashem for the King with his mouth on this Rosh Hashanah will get a special prize after Rosh Hashanah.
(Please understand that this can be done without prizes, but it will not be as powerful and the children will not be as motivated (even though they should be)). Rav Arye Finkel, Ztz’l one of the Gedolei Yisrael here in Eretz Yisroel said that when we give children prizes it enables them to do things lishma-purely for the sake of heaven.)
The rules of the contest are:
1. When we say the word Melech on Rosh Hashana we have to think, I am making Hashem the King on me, and on my mouth.
2. Throughout Rosh Hashanah we will be especially careful not to say anything hurtful to anyone with our mouths.
3. Throughout Rosh Hashanah we will be especially careful to use our mouths only to say kind words.
4. In case we forget, if when we are reminded we get back on track, then we are still in the contest.
10. Please say this tefilla together with your children.
My Father My King
Please have mercy on us this Rosh Hashanah and for all our lives
that we will make you for The King, with our mouths.
That we will speak only words that are pleasing before you .
That we will speak only words of kindliness.
And that we will not say anything hurtful to anyone, heaven forbid.
And may we be zoche to see the coming of the mashiach and the
building of the Beis Hamikdosh, speedily and in our days.
אנא תרחם עלינו בראש השנה הזאת
שנעשה אותך למלך עם הפה שלנו
ושנדבר רק דיבורים שיעשו נחת רוח לפניך
ושנדבר רק דיבורים של חסד
ולא נדבר שום דיבור לצער חס ושלום
ושנזכה לראות את משיח צדקינו ובנין בית המקדש בקרוב בימינו.
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