B'nai Mitzvah Values Clarification: Universe of Obligation

Introduction: Using the concepts of values clarification, universe of obligation and inter-generational learning the following is a two-hour program to help students start making decisions about their family tzedakah practices and their own bar or bat mitzvah giving.

1. What is important to you?
8 squares, what matters to you the most?

  • A kid in Africa lives in an orphanage, both of his parents died of AIDS and he needs medicine for Malaria that are inexpensive but he can't afford it.
  • Two sisters in your school who cannot afford school supplies, you notice they bring their books in a grocery bag.
  • Your cousin has been saving up for Guitar Hero. He has most of the money and asks you if you can help him out.
  • A Chinese boy cannot go outside and play with his friends because of smog warnings for five days in a row.
  • You know how much you love camp, but there are some kids in the synagogue that cannot afford tuition for the whole summer.
  • A new Jewish family came to Israel from the Former Soviet Union, the boy has a couple outfits but nothing like what kids in his school are wearing.
  • Kids in the hospital in your city get bored being there all day, they think it would be fun to have art projects but need donations in order for that to happen.
  • A friend of your works at an animal shelter and is collecting blankets for dogs in the pound.

Cut out these squares and put them in order of most important to least important to you.

Discussion: Which of these categories did you consider: local, global, Jewish, non-Jewish, human and nature? Discuss how you made your choices. What was your number one on your list of concern, what are your choices for number 5 and number 8?

2. Fishbowl
Have a team of teachers model answer the question. Then invite two students up to answer the questions. Have five rounds of questions and answers for the group to see. If it is a big group, have then split up into two groups and answer from there.

  1. Who has obligations or responsibilities to fulfill for you?
  2. What obligations do you feel at this point in your life?
  3. What obligations do you see yourself fulfilling in the future?

At the end have each person answer the questions with a partner, so everyone has a chance to think about and answer the questions.

3. Jewish Quotes
Pick one of these five quotes and tell a story of how this might use this quote in making a future decision or influence a future decision. Start the story with "One day I was walking down the street and suddenly..."

  1. "You shall not abuse a poor and destitute worker, whether he is familiar to you or a stranger. You must pay him on the same day because he is poor and depends on it." Paraphrased from Deuteronomy 24:14-15
  2. Whoever shows mercy to others will have mercy granted to him, as it says in the Torah, "God will show mercy to you and have compassion to do you" (Deut. 13:18). From Maimonidies Laws of Gifts to the Poor, Chapter 10
  3. "Run to perform a small mitzvah just like an important one because one mitzvah leads to another mitzvah." Mishnah Avot 4:2
  4. "When you see the donkey of your enemy lying under it's burden (read: someone's car is stuck in a ditch) and you would prefer not to help it, you must help him lift the donkey anyway." Exodus 23:5
  5. "Even a poor man who lives entirely on tzedakah must give tzedakah to another poor man." Maimonides Gifts to the Poor 7:5
  6. Child and Parent Activity

Child activity:

    1. Outside of your family, what causes or groups do your parents care about the most? How do you know?
    2. To where do you think they give tzedakah?
    3. How do you think Judaism shapes your family's values and priorities?

Parent activity:
To share with your children and compare

  1. Outside of your family, what causes or groups do you care about the most? Which causes do you hope your kids care about?
  2. To where do you give tzedakah and how has this changed over time?
  3. Look at these five texts and discuss with your child, which is the most compelling to you.
    1. "You shall not abuse a poor and destitute worker, whether he is familiar to you or a stranger. You must pay him on the same day because he is poor and depends on it." Paraphrased from Deuteronomy 24:14-15
    2. "Whoever shows mercy to others will have mercy granted to him, as it says in the Torah, "God will show mercy to you and have compassion to do you" (Dueteronomy 13:18) From Maimonidies Laws of Gifts to the Poor, Chapter 10
    3. "Run to perform a small mitzvah just like an important one because one mitzvah leads to another mitzvah." Mishnah Avot 4:2
    4. "When you see the donkey of your enemy lying under it's burden (read: someone's car is stuck in a ditch) and you would prefer not to help it, you must help him lift the donkey anyway." Exodus 23:5
    5. "Even a poor man who lives entirely on tzedakah must give tzedakah to another poor man." Maimonides Gifts to the Poor 7:5

From this conversation, start thinking about to where your child might want to give a portion of their bar or bat mitzvah gifts.

Concepts:

  • Who has obligations or responsibilities to fulfill for you? Parents, Government?
  • Who participates in fulfilling your wants and needs? Where does your food come from, who makes sure you are safe, who built your house?
  • All of these people participate in your life, who are you obligated to?
  • Which obligations do you feel and which obligations do you know you have?
  • What are some obligations that you have that you may not have thought about, in terms of who participates in your life?