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.
"Let All Who Are Hungry"
We are wired to give.
One of the worst feelings in the world is not being needed by others.
I once asked a group of high school kids: "When was the last time you felt really good about yourselves?" Each responded by sharing an act of kindness and selfless giving.
But a slave has nothing to offer. Drained of...
The seder plate holds the main symbols of a traditional Passover seder-- the shank bone, egg, karpas, charoset, and maror. The Kabbalists of the Middle Ages added hazeret, another kind of bitter lettuce. And in recent years feminists have added an orange on the seder plate to symbolize women's leadership roles and full empowerment in Jewish life.
The artichoke however is a new development. What is an artichoke?...
We all know about Passover, that holiday when we Jews whip out our flat, cracker-like matzah, talk about the massive exodus from Egypt, and drink a whole lot of Manischewitz wine. As it happens, though, there are a few other things you might want to know about Passover! Here are some facts about the holiday that you probably never knew:
Passover is an...
As we celebrate the Jewish people’s biblical exodus from Egypt, we remember that there are 60 million displaced people around the world, people fleeing violence and persecution in search of a safe place to call home. We are currently in the midst of the worst refugee crisis since World War II.
HIAS, the world’s oldest, and only Jewish, refugee resettlement organization, helps refugees find ways to live in...
As we tell the story, we think about it from all angles. Our tradition speaks of four different types of children who might react differently to the Passover seder. It is our job to make our story accessible to all the members of our community, so we think about how we might best reach each type of child:
What does the wise child say?
The wise child asks, What are the testimonies and...
It’s been a crazy week. The world with all its worries and bothers is still clamoring for your attention. The first step is to forget all that. Leave it behind. Enter into a timeless space, where you, your great-grandparents and Moses all coincide.
The beginning of all journeys is separation. You’ve got to leave somewhere to go somewhere else. It is also the first step towards freedom:...
There they were at the Seder table, as they always are. Between the first cup and the second cup, right in the middle of the telling of the tale, they made their appearance, right on schedule. First was the wise child, the one who seems to have all the answers; sober, sensible and responsible in everything he does. “We knew the end was coming,” said the wise child. “Mom had a long life, a good life. Her time had...
On Passover, Jews are commanded to tell the story of the Exodus and to see ourselves as having lived through that story, so that we may better learn how to live our lives today. The stories we tell our children shape what they believe to be possible—which is why at Passover, we must tell the stories of the women who played a crucial role in the Exodus narrative.
The Book of Exodus, much like the Book of...
We pledge to rise up in Revolutionary Love.
We declare our love for all who are in harm’s way, including refugees, immigrants, Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, LGBTQIA people, Black people, Latinx, the indigenous, the disabled, and the poor. We stand with millions of people around the globe rising up to end violence against women and girls (cis, transgender and gender non-conforming) who are often the most vulnerable...
The Fifth Question: What can we do to help alleviate poverty?
There are numerous charities which aim to get donations to end poverty. It is important to make food and money to these various charities to help others. We must remember that we were once "strangers in the land of Egypt" (Exodus 23:9). This quote appears numerous times in the Torah and explains to us to have sympathy for others because we were once...
The Passover seder serves many purposes. First and foremost it is a ritualized celebration of the Israelites’ dramatic journey from slavery to freedom. But even early on, the seder was never just about our history. As the format of the seder was finalized in Mishnaic and Talmudic times, rituals were included to make each participant feel as if they personally were experiencing the journey from slavery to freedom. This...
Pineapple- Pineapples by nature are sweet and sour, so too is life if you face the effects of depression and anxiety. The pineapple has a hard and prickly shell that one must work through to receive the rewards of its sweet and acidic fruit. Let this be a symbol of those locked in the inner shell of depression, anxiety or any other illness that detracts from the joys of living life to the fullest. “May the source of...
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...