Category Archives: PS Lower

Secondary Sources on Miracles – LPS

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Secondary Sources: Miracles


Rabbinic notion of daily miracles: “Come and consider how many miracles the Holy One blessed be He, performs for people, and they are unaware of it. If a person was to swallow bread without chewing it, it would hurt them terribly, but God created people with mouths which lets them to chew and then swallow.” (Exodus Rabba 24:1).



Avraham Joshua Heschel talked about the mystery of the universe – how it came to be like it is and the rules that make it work – and how that makes us feel a great sense of wonder” (God in Search of Man).

Image source: Wikimedia Commons.






Albert Einstein: “There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.”

Image source :



vayeira-miracle-ss-image-3Peggy Noonan: “I think miracles exist in part as gifts and in part as clues that there is something beyond the flat world we see.” Peggy Noonan is a columnist for The Wall Street Journal. She has written eight books on American politics and culture. Quote is from: What I Saw at the Revolution: A Political Life in the Reagan Era (1990).

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Activity: Seeing – LPS

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 Activity: Seeing

  1. As you do this, pay attention not only to what your senses pick up, but also about what is involved in the act of ‘seeing’ what is around you (you might find it helpful to think how each of the meanings of ‘seeing’ listed below are involved).
  2. Find a place to sit (it might be outdoors, inside a room, amongst people, or somewhere you are alone – you decide).
  3. Sit quietly for 10 minutes and concentrate on what you can see around you.
  4. Write down your observations. Come back and share them with your class.


Some ways we use the word ‘seeing’

(a) observe  (“I can see what you are doing”)

(b) understand  (“I see what you mean”)

(c) recognize  (“there are so any white cars in this parking lot it is hard to see mine”)

(d) visualize  (in a furniture store: “I can just see us sitting at this table in our kitchen”)

(e)___________________ (another meaning)

Discussion Plan: Seeing – LPS

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Discussion Plan: Seeing

In each case, make sure to explain your answers / responses.

  1. Are there times you can be heard but not seen? Describe come situations
  2. Are there times you are seen but are not heard? Describe some situtations
  3. Can you look at someone but not really see them?
  4. Can you see someone without looking at them?
  5. Can you hear what someone says but not listen to them?
  6. Do you expect friends to see you better than other people? In what ways?
  7. Is there a difference between the way parents see you and the way teachers see you?
  8. Is there a difference between the way parents see you and the way your friends see you
  9. Do you think all your friends see you the same way?
  10. Could a stranger see you better than your friends do?Could someone who disagrees with you see your point better than people who agree with you?

image source: shutterstock


Return to the questions above – try re-asking them about seeing and hearing God. (e.g.; Are there times when God is heard but not seen? Could you hear what God says but not listen to God? Does it make a difference if you see God as a parent or as a friend? Do you expect God to see you better than other people? In what ways?)

Discussion Plan: Miracles – LPS

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Discussion Plan: Miracles

Discuss what the term ‘miracle’ means in each of these sentences:
1. “It was a miracle he survived the accident”
2. “At Hannukah we talk about the miracle of the oil”
3. “When my baby brother was born and I saw him for the first time I thought ‘this is a miracle’”
4. “The lion tamer performed miraculous feats of daring”
5. “My biology teacher talks about the miracle of life on earth”
6. “It was a miracle that I got my homework done on time”
7. “The magician pulled a rabbit out of the hat – it was a miracle!’
8. I used to take butterflies for granted, but now we have studied them, I think each one is a tiny miracle!

Discussion Plan: Running from, Running to – LPS

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Discussion Plan: Running from, Running to

  1. When you run away, do your problems run with you?
  2. Is it possible to run away without leaving home?
  3. Is hiding from someone a kind of ‘running away’?
  4. If people know where you are going, are you still running away?
  5. If you are running away from something, are you always running to something else?
  6. Are there times when running to something, is always running away from something else? Can you give an example?
  7. If you run to your mother when she comes home from work, are you running from anything?
  8. Can you think of some circumstances when running away would be a sensible thing to do? (if so, what might they be?)
  9. Can you think of some circumstances when running away would be a brave thing to do? (if so, when might that be?)
  10. Can you think of some circumstances when running away would be the wrong thing to do?

Exercise: Recognizing Different Types of Laughter – LPS

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Exercise: Recognizing Different Types of Laughter

  1. What kind of laughter do you think each of these pictures shows?
  2. What is the difference between them?
  3. After looking at the pictures, think about which kind(s) of laugh you think are closest to Sarah’s laugh?
  4. Try performing that laugh.
  5. Which kind(s) of laugh do you think are like Sarah’s laugh?
vayeira-laughter-e-image-1 vayeira-laughter-e-image-2
vayeira-laughter-e-image-3 vayeira-laughter-e-image-4

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Intertextual Sources: Exploring the meaning of אות

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Intertextual Sources: Exploring the meaning of אות


Exploring the meaning of אות

Is there any difference between the meaning of אות in the following passage and the way it is used in Noah?

  • Read together Shemot 12:13 (God telling the Israelite to mark their door frames during the plagues)
  • Discuss the ways in which this is similar and different from the rainbow. (for example: What is the function of the אות (to show? tell? remind? something else?). Who is doing the actions? Is this to help the Israelites also remember that they will be safe from God’s actions – is this the same as the rainbow?)

Drama Activities: The meaning of אות

  1. Divide into small groups – half the groups will work with the Exodus text (Shemot 12:13) and half the groups with the in the rainbow text – they should create a skit that shows what they think putting the sign up (on the door, in the sky) is about in light of their discussion.
  1. Divide into small groups – create a skit that shows how you understand the rainbow text in light of some of the distinctions you explored in your community of inquiry / in these discussion plans

Leading Idea: Establishing (מֵקִים), remembering (לִזְכֹּר) and remembering in the future (זָכַרְתִּי)

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Leading Idea: Establishing (מֵקִים), remembering (לִזְכֹּר) and remembering in the future (זָכַרְתִּי)

In Verses 9:8-17 God turns his attention from Noah to himself. “As for me…” Within this passage he reflects on the act of establishing a covenant and remembering it – that is maintaining a covenant (keeping it over time), and the intention to keep it in the future (I will remember). God also reflects on the ‘sign’ (אות) , or rainbow, as representing the covenant (as a sign of the covenant), as a way of showing us of his intentions (it stands as a sign between me and you), and as a way of reminding himself of his covenant. These exercises and discussion plans explore these subtle yet very powerful distinctions.

Discussion Plan: What is the Meaning of “Blessing”? – LPS

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Discussion Plan: What is the Meaning of “Blessing”?

  1. Can people give blessings, or only God? If people can give them, do you think there is a difference between a blessing given by God and a blessing given by a person? Explain.
  2. Can you ‘give a blessing’ without blessing someone /something?
  3. Is there a difference being blessed and being a blessing?
  4. Could you ‘be a blessing’ if you had no effect on those around you?
In Verse 3 God says:

 וְנִבְרְכוּ בְךָ כֹּל מִשְׁפְּחֹת הָאֲדָמָה

And all the families of the earth

shall find blessing through you.

What do you think this means?

Lech L’cha (Bereshit 16: 1-13) בראשית טז א- יג

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Bereshit 16: 1-13

   בראשית טז א יג

1. Sarai, Avram’s wife, had not borne [children] to him. She had an Egyptian maid, her name was Hagar.

א וְשָׂרַי אֵשֶׁת אַבְרָם לֹא יָלְדָה לוֹ וְלָהּ שִׁפְחָה מִצְרִית וּשְׁמָהּ הָגָר:

2. And Sarai said to Avram, “Behold now, God has held me back from bearing; please come in to my maid; perhaps I will be built up [with sons] from her.” And Abram hearkened to Sarai’s voice.

ב וַתֹּאמֶר שָׂרַי אֶל אַבְרָם הִנֵּה נָא עֲצָרַנִי יְהֹוָה מִלֶּדֶת בֹּא נָא אֶל שִׁפְחָתִי אוּלַי אִבָּנֶה מִמֶּנָּה וַיִּשְׁמַע אַבְרָם לְקוֹל שָׂרָי:

3. Sarai, Avram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her maid, at the end of ten years of Avram’s living [dwelling] in the land of Canaan, and she gave her to her husband Avram for a wife.

ג וַתִּקַּח שָׂרַי אֵשֶׁת אַבְרָם אֶת הָגָר הַמִּצְרִית שִׁפְחָתָהּ מִקֵּץ עֶשֶׂר שָׁנִים לְשֶׁבֶת אַבְרָם בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנָעַן וַתִּתֵּן אֹתָהּ לְאַבְרָם אִישָׁהּ לוֹ לְאִשָּׁה:

4. And he came in to Hagar, and she became pregnant. But when she saw that she was pregnant, her mistress became less important [lowered in esteem] in her eyes.

ד וַיָּבֹא אֶל הָגָר וַתַּהַר וַתֵּרֶא כִּי הָרָתָה וַתֵּקַל גְּבִרְתָּהּ בְּעֵינֶיהָ:

5.  And Sarai said to Avram, “The wrong [injustice] done to me is upon you! I gave my maid into your bosom, but now she sees that she is pregnant, I have become unimportant [lowered in worth] in her eyes. May God judge [do justice] between me and you!”

ה וַתֹּאמֶר שָׂרַי אֶל אַבְרָם חֲמָסִי עָלֶיךָ אָנֹכִי נָתַתִּי שִׁפְחָתִי בְּחֵיקֶךָ וַתֵּרֶא כִּי הָרָתָה וָאֵקַל בְּעֵינֶיהָ יִשְׁפֹּט יְהֹוָה בֵּינִי וּבֵינֶיֹךָ:

6. And Avram said to Sarai, “Here – your maid is in your hand; do with her however it seems good in your eyes.” And Sarai afflicted her, and she fled from before her.

ו וַיֹּאמֶר אַבְרָם אֶל שָׂרַי הִנֵּה שִׁפְחָתֵךְ בְּיָדֵךְ עֲשִׂי לָהּ הַטּוֹב בְּעֵינָיִךְ וַתְּעַנֶּהָ שָׂרַי וַתִּבְרַח מִפָּנֶיהָ:

7. And an angel [messenger] of God found her by a spring of water in the desert, by the spring on the way to Shur.

ז וַיִּמְצָאָהּ מַלְאַךְ יְהֹוָה עַל עֵין הַמַּיִם בַּמִּדְבָּר עַל הָעַיִן בְּדֶרֶךְ שׁוּר:

8.  He said, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where are you coming from, and where are you going to?” And she said, “I am fleeing from Sarai my mistress.”

ח וַיֹּאמַר הָגָר שִׁפְחַת שָׂרַי אֵי מִזֶּה בָאת וְאָנָה תֵלֵכִי וַתֹּאמֶר מִפְּנֵי שָׂרַי גְּבִרְתִּי אָנֹכִי בֹּרַחַת:

9. And God’s angel [messenger] said to her, “Return to your mistress, and allow yourself to be afflicted under her hand.”

ט וַיֹּאמֶר לָהּ מַלְאַךְ יְהֹוָה שׁוּבִי אֶל גְּבִרְתֵּךְ וְהִתְעַנִּי תַּחַת יָדֶיהָ:

10. And Go’s angel [messenger] said to her, “I will greatly multiply your seed [children], and it will be too many to count.”

י וַיֹּאמֶר לָהּ מַלְאַךְ יְהֹוָה הַרְבָּה אַרְבֶּה אֶת זַרְעֵךְ וְלֹא יִסָּפֵר מֵרֹב:

11. And God’s angel; [messenger] said to her, “Behold, you are pregnant and and will bear a son, and name him Ishmael [God hears], for God has heard your affliction.

יא וַיֹּאמֶר לָהּ מַלְאַךְ יְהֹוָה הִנָּךְ הָרָה וְיֹלַדְתְּ בֵּן וְקָרָאת שְׁמוֹ יִשְׁמָעֵאל כִּי שָׁמַע יְהֹוָה אֶל עָנְיֵךְ:

12. And he will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be upon all, and everyone’s hand upon him, and yet in the presence of all his brothers he will dwell.”                              

יב וְהוּא יִהְיֶה פֶּרֶא אָדָם יָדוֹ בַכֹּל וְיַד כֹּל בּוֹ וְעַל פְּנֵי כָל אֶחָיו יִשְׁכֹּן:

13. And she called the name of God, the one who had spoken to her, “You are the God of seeing,” because she said: “Have I continued [gone on] seeing here after I have been seen?”

יג וַתִּקְרָא שֵׁם יְהֹוָה הַדֹּבֵר אֵלֶיהָ אַתָּה אֵל רֳאִי כִּי אָמְרָה הֲגַם הֲלֹם רָאִיתִי אַחֲרֵי רֹאִי:

14. Therefore the well was called Be’er Lachai Ro’i; [Well of the living-one who sees me], behold it is between Kadesh and Bered.

יד עַל כֵּן קָרָא לַבְּאֵר בְּאֵר לַחַי רֹאִי הִנֵּה בֵין קָדֵשׁ וּבֵין בָּרֶד:

15. Hagar bore a son to Avram, and Avram named his son, whom Hagar had borne, Ishmael.

טו וַתֵּלֶד הָגָר לְאַבְרָם בֵּן וַיִּקְרָא אַבְרָם שֶׁם בְּנוֹ אֲשֶׁר יָלְדָה הָגָר יִשְׁמָעֵאל: