A Midrash for Teens
Please Donate to Haggadot.com
We rely on support from users just like you! Please donate
today to keep maintaining this free resource!
Customandcraft.org is a fiscally sponsored project of Jewish Jumpstart (EIN: 26-2173175) which is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt California public benefit corporation. Your gift is tax deductible to the
extent allowed by law.
Thank you for your donation.
Landscape / Booklet
Print Update coming in 2017
Share this Clip with your friends, family,
community and social networks with just one click.
Copy and paste the URL of this Clip to share or view.
Open in new window
Share This Clip on Social Networks
A Midrash for Teens
We Won't Get Fooled Again: Helping Teens Identify Pharaoh
A boy is tricked into being part of a game with other boys only to find out that he is the target of mockery and abuse. A girl is happy to be included as a "friend" at a lunch table until she finds it was only a ploy to get back at another girl. A boy is "hit on" as part of a practical joke. A girl is lured into an unwelcomed physical encounter. Being fooled is one of the many challenges that teens face on a daily basis. The challenge is new - and old:Rabbi Shalom Dov Bear, a 19th century Chassidic sage, told his son: There are three things you need to know to be a man: don't fool yourself, don't fool others, and don't allow yourself to be fooled by others. And do it all without trying to impress anyone. In preparation for Passover, we've been thinking about the "don't allow yourself to be fooled by others."
Today, teens see a world where it is normal to fool people. It seems as if each week, a celebrity, athlete, or politician who has lied to the public admits their shame. TV shows and videos based on pranks form the core of the comedy diet. And every 79 seconds a thief will try to open a bank account with a stolen identity.What are the roots of fraud? According to Midrash, the slavery of the Hebrews in Egypt began with being fooled. In the Book of Exodus we read: "And the Egyptians made the children of Israel work vigorously." What is the Hebrew word for vigorously? Parech. In Hebrew, Parech can also mean "peh rach" a "soft mouth" meaning "gentle speech" How did the Egyptians make the Hebrews work with "gentle speech?" Slavery began with Pharaoh saying: "I beg of you, as a special favor, work alongside me today." Pharaoh picked up a basket and shovel and everyone followed him But when it grew dark, he said to his men, "count up the bricks." When they finished he said to the Hebrews: "This is the number of bricks that you must make for me everyday." -Sotah 11b; Tanchuma B'haalotecha, 23.According to this Midrash, the Hebrews got taken in by soft words. They were conned, lured, and scammed.How might this Midrash help teens to become discerning adults?It would be pat to say to teens simply, "don't get fooled." But we, as parents, educators, and others who are concerned about teens and their interactions online and off, should look more deeply with them at the challenge that this Midrash poses:
How do we protect ourselves from being fooled without ending up distrusting the entire world?
On Passover, Rabbi Shalom Dov Bear taught, we as a community return to a state of authenticity and humility. Refraining from chametz (leavened bread) and eating matzah is a spiritual practice that helps us notice and distance ourselves from anything that is "puffed up." As teens come of age, they need adult guidance in discerning who they can trust. Teaching them to detect the "puffed up" - those who manipulate others in an effort to assert control, requires helping teens understand the dynamics of power, the attraction to Pharaoh's methods, and the many ways that people can resist, disrupt, and break free.
This year, may we all taste the matzah - the bread of humility - and help the world to embrace an ethic of authenticity, honesty, and freedom.
Before the blessing over the first cup of wine, say:
We are gathered here tonight to affirm our continuity with the generations of Jews who kept alive the vision of freedom in the Passover story. For thousands of years, Jews have affirmed that by participating in the Passover Seder, we not only remember the Exodus, but actually relive it, bringing its transformative power into our own...
At a traditional seder, there is a cup of wine left on the table for the prophet Elijah. Toward the end of the night, the door is opened for Elijah, symbolizing that all are welcome at the seder, all can take refuge here.
In this spirit, consider symbolically setting aside a table setting or opening the door to the 60 million refugees and displaced people around the world still waiting to be free — for all...
From COEJL’s “Preparing for Passover: Readings for the Seder Table”
Stewart Vile Tahl, COEJL
One of Passover’s lessons is learned to distinguish between more and enough. Dayenu means “it would have been enough for us.” Often, enjoying more wealth and comfort stimulates our desire for more – more attention, more comforts, more money, more, and more, and more. Passover and the...
Source 1: Babylonian Talmud
Context: The Babylonian Talmud is a collection of Jewish stories, laws and debates grounded in the Bible and other Jewish texts. It was compiled in the fifth century in modern-day Iraq, but many portions of it are much older. Here, the Talmud quotes and comments on a passage from a second-century text called the Mishnah. The Mishnah asks, “How long must a person live in a city to be...
Jews from Spain, Italy, Sicily, Morocco, Tunisia, and Sardinia would bring the Seder plate to the table with ceremony. Sometimes, they would cover it with a nice scarf and sing as it arrived to the table. They would pass it from person to person around the table, and place it on each head for a moment. This demonstrates that we were once slaves in Egypt and carried heavy burdens on our heads. In...
We all carry around ideas and images of reality, frequently garnered from other people or from courses we have taken, books we have read, or from television, the radio, newspapers, the culture in general, which give us pictures of how things are and what is occurring. As a result, we often see our thoughts, or someone else's, instead of seeing what is right in front of us or inside of us. Often, we don't even bother to...
On Passover, the Jewish community asks ourselves, friends, family and neighbors, What makes this night different from all other nights? Four Jewish racial justice leaders shared their answers.
"As Jews, we remember and we cannot let injustice happen again in this country. This is our moment to bend the moral arc and to move racial justice work forward through advocacy, activism, and engagement." --...
"Passover" By Yehuda Amichai
My father was a god and did not know it. He gave me
The Ten Commandments neither in thunder nor in furry; neither in fire nor in cloud
But rather in gentleness and love. And he added caresses and kind words
and he added “I beg You,” and “please.”
And he sang “keep” and “remember” the Shabbat
In a single melody and he pleaded and
This symbolic washing of the hands recalls the story of Miriam's Well. Legend tells us that this well followed Miriam, sister of Moses, through the desert, sustaining the Jews in their wanderings. Filled with mayim chayim, waters of life, the well was a source of strength and renewal to all who drew from it. One drink from its waters was said to alert the heart, mind and soul, and make the meaning of Torah become...
Long ago, Pharaoh ruled the land of Egypt. He enslaved the Jewish people and made them work very hard building his cities. song: Bang bang bang
Phaoraoh was especially cruel to Jewish children. One mother hid her baby, Moses, in a basket in the river. Pharoah's daughter found him and took him home to live in the palace.
Moses grew up. He saw the slaves working so hard. He had a fight about it...
More Clips from Rabbi Daniel Brenner
The Wicked Child
I read the haggadah backwards this year
The sea opens,
the ancient Israelites slide back to Egypt
like Michael Jackson doing the moonwalk
Freedom to slavery
That’s the real story
One minute you’re dancing hallelujah,
shaking your hips to the j-j-jangle of the prophetesses’ tambourines,
the next you’re knee deep in brown...
We Won't Get Fooled Again: Helping Teens Identify Pharaoh
A boy is tricked into being part of a game with other boys only to find out that he is the target of mockery and abuse. A girl is happy to be included as a "friend" at a lunch table until she finds it was only a ploy to get back at another girl. A boy is "hit on" as part of a practical joke. A girl is lured into an unwelcomed physical...