Wednesday, April 9, 2008

And you shall teach them diligently to your children...

And it shall be, when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ that you shall say, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice of the LORD, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households.’” So the people bowed their heads and worshiped.
Exodus 12:26-27 (NKJV)
As I was preparing the lesson last night for our children's Shabbat School, I thought it might be a good idea to post it on here for you to use with your children! As usual, I learned much as I studied the subject of the Four Questions of the Passover seder (seder translates to "order" in English, referring to the order of the festive meal).
Shabbat School (or Homeschool) Lesson: The Four Questions
Materials needed:
- Fresh parsley sprigs (one for each child)
- Small plates (one for each child)
- Bowl of salt water
- Piece of fresh horseradish (or spoonful of prepared horseradish)
- You may make charoset for the children if they won't be attending a seder (see recipe link)
- Pillow (one for each child)
- Coloring pages for each element
- CD including song "Ma Nishtana" (Four Questions in a song - I have this one)
*If your children are new to Passover, you may want to introduce the story found in the beginning of Exodus to them first. For the purposes here, I will begin where I will be teaching from (most of our children have done a Passover seder at least once).
Who asks the Four Questions at the Passover seder?
- Traditionally at the seder meal, the Four Questions are sung or read by the youngest child.
- The answers are to give a brief overview of the story of Passover, as found in Exodus 12.
What are the Four Questions?
It is really one main question with four clauses.
Main question: "Why is this night different from all other nights?"
Four clauses:
1. On all other nights we eat bread or matzah, why on this night do we only eat matzah?
2. On all other nights we eat all kinds of herbs, why on this night do we eat bitter herbs?
3. On all other nights we do not dip our vegetables even once, why on this night do we dip our vegetables twice?
4. On all other nights we eat sitting or reclining, why on this night do we only eat reclining?
Answers to the Four Questions
1. We only eat matzah on Passover because our ancestors had to leave Egypt in a hurry. God told them not to put leaven in their dough, as it would not have time to rise (Exodus 12:34). We observe it today to remember the temporary nature of our earthly home.
- Show the children a piece of matzah and ask them how it's different from regular bread.
- Explain how leaven works.
Messianic significance: In the Bible, leaven is a symbol for sin or pride. It is that which "puffs up." Talk to the children about how Messiah Yeshua was sinless, so the matzah can be a symbol for Yeshua!
2. We only eat maror (bitter herbs) to remind us of the bitterness of slavery that our ancestors endured in Egypt.
-Show the children the horseradish and tell them how bitter it is.
-Tell them they will get to try it later.
Messianic significance: We can remember the harshness and suffering of Yeshua's execution through the bitterness of the maror. It may even bring you to tears!
3. We dip twice:
(1) Parsley in salt water - representing tears from the bitterness of slavery
(2) Bitter herbs in charoset (sweet mixture of fruit, nuts and wine or grape juice)
Messianic significance: We remember the tears of those who were close to Yeshua when he died, but their tears turned to joy when they saw the resurrected Messiah. It's a reminder that God turns our mourning into joy!
4. In ancient times, only those who were free were allowed to recline at a meal. The slaves had to eat standing or sitting straight up. Once we were slaves, now we are free!
Messianic significance: Yeshua did this at his Last Seder (Matthew 26:20). We can rest (recline) in the work of atonement that Messiah's death and resurrection accomplished!
- Now give each child a small piece of matzah, a tiny (very tiny!) piece of horseradish, a sprig of parsley, spoonful of charoset (if you make it), and their pillow.
- Help them dip the matzah in the horseradish (and charoset) and taste, the sprig of parsley in the salt water and taste, and recline on their pillow.
Coloring Activity/Song
- Now allow the children to color the pages. I love using Torah Tots, as they have great coloring pages for every single part of the Torah! The Passover coloring pages are found on this page. The ones I am using for the Four Questions are this one, this one, this one and this one.
- While the children color, you could play the Four Questions song ("Ma Nishtana") for them and then teach them the words if you like!
Let me know if you have any questions. I hope this is a great help for introduction or preparation for children to the Passover seder. I will continue to post my preparation tips as the holiday nears (evening of April 19th this year)! Remember, you can still get your FREE Passover Resource or order your own Passover HaGaddah here. Not sure if Passover is for you? Read this post.
To order the book pictured above, go here.

1 comment:

Jenny M said...

I did this lesson with our Shabbat School yesterday, and the kids LOVED it! The boys were so cute with the horseradish trying to see who could eat the most, and the girls were so sweet singing the Hebrew of the Four Questions! Next week...they're singing it at the Passover seder in front of 100 people. Keep us in your prayers!