The Yerusha, Part 2
Two-lesson unit on Bereshit 15: 1-8. Students learn about God’s promise to grant Avram a child. Intensive text-study. Includes worksheets.
The student will be able to describe the conversation between God and Avram as follows:
1) God compares Avram’s offspring to the multitude of stars in the sky.
2) Avram trusts God’s word.
3) God reiterates His promise to Avram to inherit Eretz Israel.
4) Avram requests verification or testimony of God’s promise.
Students will be able to
1) Identify Biblical words with the root “yerusha”.
Students will appreciate
1) Avram’s faith in God.
Resources & Equipment needed
Vocabulary binder, blackboard, highlighter/pens/pencil, text sheets and worksheets (see appendix), overhead projector (optional).
I. Teacher Preparation: 1) Photocopy the text sheets – a translated, paragraphed form of the text. See appendix. 2) Arrange to have an overhead projector in the classroom (optional). 3) Bring a bag of Hershey’s kisses to class.
II. Class Opening (2 minutes): T: How long does a yerusha last? S: That depends on what it is. T: Let’s say it’s a lot of money. S: It lasts as long as you can keep it. If you spend it, it’s gone. T: And if you lose the money, can you get it back? S: No. T: Can you give me an example of a yerusha that will last a long time? Do you know anyone in your family that has ever inherited something? Accept various responses, offer an example of real estate if the students do not suggest it. S: My grandfather left us his apartment in Florida. T: If your family still owns it, then the apartment is still your yerusha. If it’s sold, then it’s like the money you spent or lost. It’s gone. What about Avram’s yerusha? To whom was it promised? S: To his son that would come from him. Not his servant or anyone else. T: Let’s see it in the text.
III. Silent Textual Reading (3 minutes): T: I want each of you to quietly read paragraphs 5-8. Try to understand as much as you can on your own. If you would like to read and act out the verses in front of the class when you are done reading, raise 2 fingers on your hand. Otherwise, read quietly and wait till I call the class to attention. You have 3 minutes. Begin now. Raise your hand now if you don’t understand what to do.
IV. Acting and Reading (3 minutes): Appoint four students to come up to the front of the classroom and read/act. One should read the part of the narrator, one to read the part of God, one to read the English translation, and one to play the part of Avram (although he does not have lines, he must be on stage). Make sure the students understand when they are supposed to read. When reading is finished, students should return to their seats.
V. Check for Student Comprehension (3 minutes): T: What did God promise Avram in these verses? S: That his descendants would be as many as the stars in the sky. T: Whom do the stars represent? S: The Jewish people. T: Why are the Jewish people like the stars? Accept various answers like: so many stars, they shine, they reflect the light from one another. T: Stars represent all the Jewish people that have ever existed or will exist. From which phrase do we learn that the Jewish people are meant to be the stars? S: כה יהיה זרעך T: God gives Avram another promise – this time not about people. What is that promise? S: To give him the land of Israel as an inheritance. T: Which phrase teaches us that? S: לתת לך את הארץ הזאת לרשתה T: Highlight that phrase. So the “yoresh” (the heir) of Avram—his unborn son—will be given the land of Israel as a yerusha. Who gets the land after Avram’s son dies? S: The rest of the Jewish people, Avram’s descendents.
VI. Discussion (7 minutes): T: Let’s take a closer look at paragraph 6. Choose a student to read it again. T: Who believed in God? S: Avram. T: In what did Avram believe? S: That God would fill His promise of making his descendants as many as the stars in the sky. T: Let’s look at the last phrase of this verse. ויחשביה לו צדקה. What does this mean? S: And he thought that he was good. T: Who thought that who was good? S: God thought that Avram was good. T: Why is Avram considered good? S: He is believing and trusting in God. T: Why does Avram’s belief in God deserve special mention here? S: Avram’s been through a lot. He just went to save Lot from Sdom, fought a great war against powerful kings, and negotiated with the King of Sdom. He’s tired! He wasn’t counting on all of this. He was trying to get settled in a new land. Now he’s fighting wars and saving his nephew while Sdom is destroyed. He’s a little nervous about his future. Plus, he still doesn’t have any children. He’s worried about that too. So his trusting in God is difficult. It really is good that he still believes in Him. T: Excellent response. The text is clear that Avram trusts in God a great deal. Which is why what Avram’s about to say in Paragraph 8 is so strange.
VII. Textual Reading of Paragraph 8 and Discussion (13 minutes): Read paragraph 8 together with class. T: Avram asks a rather surprising question here. What is so surprising about his question? S: What does Avram mean, ‘how will he know that he’ll inherit the land?’ God just told him that he would get it. T: Great. So let’s figure out what Avram really means! What else could Avram be saying? Pause. Accept responses if students offer. If not, continue: T: IS Avram going to inherit Eretz Israel in his lifetime? S: No. T: Who is meant to inherit the land, and when will it happen? S: Avram’s children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc. S: They won’t get the land for a very long time. T: Not until they’re as many as what? S: The stars in the sky. T: How many generations does it take to become as many as the stars in the sky? One, two, fifteen? Accept various responses, leaning to larger numbers. T: Avram realizes that God finds him worthy of inheriting the land. But whose behavior is Avram really concerned about? S: His children, or grandchildren. T: And perhaps they won’t be worthy of what? S: Of inheriting the land. T: Is Avram worried about his own faith in God? S: No. T: He looks around and says to himself “Self, I’m already 75 years old. I’m not going to be around forever. God just promised me that my children would be as many as the stars in the sky (point heavenwards). That promise will obviously not come true in my lifetime. I want to make sure that no matter what my kids and descendants do, they’ll still get to live in this wonderful land. Pause. Do you know how many Jewish people there are living in Israel today? About 6 million! Does that sound like a large enough number that could represent the stars in the sky? S: Yes. T: The Jewish people don’t live in all of the land yet, but we are on our way. It’s our land. God gave it to us! Eventually, one day, all the Jewish people will live there. Now let’s take out those yerusha worksheets we did yesterday.
VIII. Worksheet Activity (5 minutes): T: Did you notice any more forms of the word yerusha in paragraph 5-10? S: Yes, T: How many? S: Two. T: In which paragraph? S: Paragraph 7 and 8. לרשתה and אירשנה. T: Take out your yerusha worksheets from yesterday. Fill in those two words in boxes 3 and 4 and the rest of the questions.
IX. Worksheet review (5 minutes): Review table with students (overhead projector will come in handy).
X. Pictionary (5 minutes): T: There are actually two types of yerushot mentioned in these verses. Can you figure out what they are? (If students need help, say: One yerusha is the one that Avram is worried about—he wants a child of his own to inherit his property. The other yerusha is the one that God is giving Avram, the Land of Israel.). Call up two students to the board. Tell one to draw the yerusha Avram wants. Classmates should guide him what to draw. Student #2 draws the yerusha God intended for Avram. Again, classmates should instruct student. Optional: Divide class into two groups and encourage competition. S: Avram wants a son, someone he can give his yerusha. S: God wants to leave Avram a yerusha as well. He wants to give him Israel. T: Now are you ready for your yerusha representation from me? You’ve been wonderful. Now you get your yerusha from me. This Hershey’s kiss represents the land of Israel. If you look at it long enough, it looks a little like the land of Israel. It’s narrow on top, like the Galil and wide on the bottom like the Negev. Pass out Hershey’s Kisses to students.
XI. Conclusion (1 minute): T: How many of you feel that Avram liked his yerusha? Accept various answers. T: Ask your parents tonight if they ever got a yerusha and what they did with it. Tell me tomorrow!