Monday, November 9, 2009

Hayei Sara

We have been reading the parashot this year through the lens of language - the power of words.

Big Idea #1:
  • Stories can change depending on the storyteller and the audience. That there are different versions does not necessarily mean one is true and others are not.

In Nechama Leibowitz' discussion of this parasha she compares the words Avraham uses in talking to his servant with the words the servant (Eliezer) uses in describing the task to the family of Rivka. You can read the commentary here. What are the similarities? What are the differences? What do you think explains why certain words or phrases are different in the two versions?

Essential Questions:
  1. Have you ever told a story more than once?
  2. Does it always sound the same?
  3. What might be the reasons the story changes from one occasion to another?
  4. Is there a person in your family who is the "custodian" of family stories? Who gets to say, "That's not how it happened!"
  5. How does your position in the family affect your "ownership" of the family stories? How are family stories preserved?
Big Idea #2
  • People differ in the way they respond to life experiences.
Essential Questions:
  1. What are some of the experiences Sarah had in her life?
  2. Do you know people who have had the same concrete experiences, either good or bad, but whose response to those experiences is different? How can you explain this?
  3. How can the way one responds to an event affect what comes afterward?
  4. What are some lessons in Torah, in Jewish wisdom and thought, which can help us respond appropriately to life events?
Big Idea #3
  • Not all important ideas or events are broadcast loudly and clearly. Sometimes they are not so obvious at first glance
Essential Questions:
  1. According to the Torah, who buried Avraham?
  2. What, if anything, surprised you about this?
  3. Do you believe this incident symbolizes a reconciliation between the brothers? Explain your opinion.
  4. What are some occasions in family life that might lead to separation? to reconciliation? What are some ideas we can use to encourage shlom bayit, peaceful relationships within a family?

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