A Complex Instruction Unit

Prepared by Participants in the Lookstein Center’s annual Principals’ Seminar, July 2000


Main Concept of the Unit: “Controlling Emotions”

This study includes textual analysis of parallel passages in the Torah based on various commentaries. Activities in this unit include drama, music, art, interpersonal relations, etc.

Instructions: The class is divided into heterogeneous groups. Each group concurrently works on a different task card. All groups are required to do task cards #1 and #3 and may choose two activities from the remaining four task cards.


Task #1

Read 23:4 in the book of Shemot.

Find another verse anywhere in the Chumash (Pentatuch) that parallels the main idea of this verse.

  • What was the keyword you used to find the new verse?
  • What are the main ideas in the new verse?
  • What are the similarities and differences between the two verses?
  • Write your group’s answers on the worksheet.


Task #2

Pretend you are a farmer living in biblical times. Stage a scenario based on what you would do if …

  1. You found your friend’s lost ox staying in a stranger’s field.
  2. You found your enemy’s ox astray.

Stage a scenario in which the halakha (Jewish law) derived from the verse may be ambiguous.

Stage a scenario that would reflect a contemporary application of this halakha.


Task #3

Locate the verse in Shemot 23:4 and the verse in Devarim (Deuteronomy) 22:1

Make a list of the characteristics of friends and enemies.

[See Nechama Leibowitz, Ibn Ezra, Ramban and other commentaries]

Describe people you know that do NOT fit into the category of friend.

Express, in any medium, how you FEEL in the presence of your friend or your enemy. Also, express how you think they feel about you.

What does the verse in Shemot teach you about controlling your emotions? Write it down, or act it out or make up a song expressing this important concept.


Task Card #4

Based on what you have learned from comparing Shemot 23:4 and Devarim 22:1, stage a 3-minute playlet and videotape it.Opening Scene…Your enemy knocks on your door. You open the door but have no idea why he is there.

Finish the story.

Stage a second playlet with a very different ending.


Task Card #5

Create an artistic expression using any medium to depict the concepts of friends, enemies, and conflicting emotions.

[Suggestions: Collage, Mural, Play]


Task Card #6

In the envelope provided, you will find the two verses (Shemot 23:4, Devarim 22:1)

If you could only hang up one verse on the bulletin board of your class, which one would it be? Justify your reasons. Make a decorative poster displaying your chosen verse.