Saturday, January 31, 2009

Friday, January 30, 2009

Upcoming lessons - pearl and leaven

Pearls - how does one approach this with children? I don't teach the parable this week but I may stay a bit longer to see what the approach is like, since next week I am supposed to prepare the materials and teach the parable of the leaven - (which usage I wonder? Likely Matthew 13:33, Luke 13:21 - not Matthew 16:6 and parallels)?

And again he said, "To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened."

He told them another parable. "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened."

What Hebrew letters would you choose for the pearl?

Hmmm pearl גביש (gavish) occurs only once in the ancient writings, Job 28:18 - and it contains other rarely used words.

רָאמֹות וְגָבִישׁ לֹא יִזָּכֵר וּמֶשֶׁךְ חָכְמָה מִפְּנִינִים
ra-amot (high and precious things - coral?)
vegavish (pearl?)
lo yizkar (that's a word we did recently - this one is niphal passive - not remembered - or as KJV has it - no mention shall be made)
umeshek hokmah (for the price of wisdom)
mpaninim (is above jewels / rubies?)

Pearls get a good press in Revelation 21:21

I was going to move on to the final mem and/or the samech - the suggestion that samech meaning support symbolizes the presence of God in the world is a nice one. It is curious that it is in the place of our O and that it looks like O. But it isn't O. But it is the shape of a pearl!

Read those links - the play that John Parsons has with the letters is delightful.

Psalm 145:14 is a good example of the use of samech (it is in the acrostic - the last ABG psalm.)

סֹומֵךְ יְהוָה לְכָל־הַנֹּפְלִים וְזֹוקֵף לְכָל־הַכְּפוּפִים
somech יְהוָה lecol hanoflim vezoqeph lecol-hakfufim
Sustains יְהוָה all the fallen
and he raises up all the distressed

note to self: the alef-bet is easily sung to ABC

alef-bet gimel-dalet / hey-vav zayin
chet-tet-yod kaf-lamed /mem-nun-samech ayin
peh-tsade qof / resh-shin taf
that's all the letters / that you have
now I know my alef-bet
see if you can sing this set
AlephBet / VetGimmelDaletHeyVavZayinChetTetSamekhAyinYodLamedMemNunKaf / Khaf

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The letters ayin and tsade

Today with the help of a tree-like image of Psalm 1 and a Morris print of the tree of life, I introduced 'tree' as a word made from the two oddest letters of the Hebrew alef-bet. The tree of life is in Genesis 2:9, Psalm 1:1-3 and Revelation 22:2 - beginning, middle and end of the Bible. Leaves specially in the last two sections. I read them the psalms and had spelled out עֵץ הַחַיִּים [etz hahayim] from Genesis 2:9 on the blocks. It was a full 5 minutes.
כְּעֵץ שָׁתוּל עַל־פַּלְגֵי מָיִם
Like a tree transplanted by streams of water
The children stretching their arms and fingers had no trouble imagining themselves as trees.

Curiously, the first response to the colours in the image here was PH. I didn't know I had a 10 year old chemist in the class. (I think the message is - use every bit of your knowledge for joy because the children see right through you.)

Friday, January 23, 2009


There is a plan till Easter - 4 parables beginning last week: the Sower, the Mustard Seed, the Pearl, and the Leaven. Any ideas for a Hebrew lesson to begin each parable? This week - the idea of a tree suggests teaching a little of Psalm 1 shaped like a tree.

I think I cannot reveal any secrets - so if I use this image, it will have to be related to the colour and shape of words.

After the parables comes the Mystery of Easter. Then the Faces of Easter for 5 Sundays.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Zayin - the seventh letter

ז is for זכר remember. Zayin, the seventh letter, for remember was quite successful. The children, with a little prompting, remembered the first six letters of the alef-bet and we sang them together to the first musical phrase of the ABCD song. As they remembered each letter, I read them each verse in the diagram here. The verse I chose for remember, Psalm 25:6, is one of many where it is God who remembers - in this case as the psalmist prays: remember your compassions יְהוָה and your loving-kindnesses.

We touched on what we do every week in the Mass where we remember Jesus' death. We did not have time to develop the act of remembering - making the past present. But we had a good start to discussion of the Eucharist and we did briefly connect to Luke 22:19 and 1 Corinthians 11:25-26 to the concepts and reality behind the Eucharist and how the Exodus is similarly used in Jewish tradition. Note that in at least one Hebrew NT, the words in Luke and 1 Corinthians for remembrance and proclamation are both based on זכר

Friday, January 16, 2009

Restarting teaching the alefbet

After nearly 8 weeks, what does one do to restart the teaching of the Hebrew alefbet? Who among the children will remember what?

I did a new diagram of the first 7 letters here. My 5 minutes could be as little as getting them to find the first seven letters in the blocks (and introducing the seventh ז zayin), or as large as reading some of the verses they have seen earlier. I am being encouraged to include the singing and may be brave enough to do that. Repetition is important and so far I have done little repetition.

I am also reading the Godly Play book 1. I am very impressed with the chapter on a theology of childhood. I can be quite critical, but not here. I think the tone is just right. Perhaps I will blog more on this program later. I will be teaching a full session soon so I will have some new experience to report.

Another question: given 4 weeks of parables, and 6 weeks of the Lenten program on the faces of Jesus, how could the Hebrew letters and Old Testament counterbalance fit in?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Reading Hebrew

Try reading this as if it were English but typed as Hebrew

.dg m dg ry dnא lpp m b llš lpp ry
o- y-- o- ou-- : a e eo- y e-: a e eo ou
This looks like a fun exercise to restart the Hebrew learning

With thanks to Fred Putnam here and Naama Zahavi-Ely here.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Related post for learning Hebrew

For an older student, I have posted the first three verses of Ruth here.