Shema Sound Maps, Hearing Godliness in the World
Goals: To introduce the Shema blessing; To explore sound as an expression of Godliness; To use our sense of hearing to interact with the natural world
Materials: Blank paper
Pencils or pens
Audience: All Ages
1) Begin by asking one student to recite the words of the Sh’ma opening line.
2) What sense do they associate with this prayer?
Answer: Sound or Hearing
3) Why do they think hearing is the sense we focus on for the most important prayer in Judaism?
4) What are examples from the Torah of hearing God?
Answer: Moshes & Burning Bush, Israelites at Sinai, Abraham, etc.
All hear God, but don’t see God
5) Invite each student to sit somewhere (outdoors if possible) alone with his or her sound sheet and pen and to create a map of all the sounds that they hear. Students should place themselves in the middle of the map, signified by a dot or an ‘x,’ and draw the sounds around themselves. Have them sit quietly for five minutes.
a) Do a brief guided imagery exercise/meditation before they begin, have them picture themselves at the Burning Bush or at Sinai, listening to the voice of God, as well as all the other sounds of the desert.
b) Challenge the students to draw the sound. Not what made the sound, but the sound itself. How would the sound be represented in a picture.
After regrouping, you may ask some students to share what they drew.
1. Did you hear anything that you didn’t expect to hear?
2. What was it like to sit still silently for such a long time?
3. What are the ways in which listening can provide us with a way to live with more awareness in the world?
4. Could you hear the animals’ or plants’ prayers to God?
5. Could you hear the spirit of God? What about in wind in the trees?
Discuss Ruach: Translation from Hebrew- wind, spirit and a name for God
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