Current Issue

 Click here to subscribe.

Share

Search
BeisMoshiach.org
Web
Tags
"Misnagdim” #1000 #1001 #1002 #1003 #1004 #1005 #1006 #1007 #1008 #1009 #1010 #1011 #1012 #1013 #1014 #1015 #1016 #1017 #1018 #1019 #1020 #1021 #1022 #1023 #1024 #1025 #1026 #1027 #1028 #1029 #1030 #1031 #1032 #1033 #1034 #1035 #1036 #1037 #1038 #1039 #1040 #1041 #1042 #1043 #1044 #1045 #1046 #1047 #1048 #1049 #1050 #1051 #1052 #1053 #1054 #1055 #1056 #1057 #1058 #1059 #1060 #1061 #1062 #1063 #1064 #1065 #1066 #1067 #1068 #1069 #1070 #1071 #1072 #1073 #1074 #1075 #1076 #1077 #1078 #1079 #1080 #1081 #1082 #1083 #1084 #1085 #1086 #1088 #1089 #1090 #1091 #1092 #1093 #1094 #1095 #1096 #1097 #1098 #1099 #1100 #1101 #1102 #1103 #1104 #1106 #1107 #1108 #1109 #1110 #1111 #1112 #1113 #1114 #1115 #1116 #1117 #1118 #1119 #1120 #1121 #1122 #1123 #1124 #1125 #1126 #1127 #1128 #1129 #1130 #1131 #1132 #1133 #1134 #1135 #1136 #1137 #1138 #1139 #1140 #1141 #1142 #1143 #1144 #1145 #1146 #1147 #1148 #1149 #1150 #1151 #1152 #1153 #1154 #1155 #1156 #1157 #1158 #1159 #1160 #1161 #1162 #1163 #1164 #1165 #1166 #1167 #1168 #1169 #1170 #1171 #1172 #1173 #1174 #1175 #1176 #1177 #1178 #1179 #1180 #1181 #1182 #1183 #318 #319 #350 #383 #390 #550 #560 #594 #629 #642 #776 #777 #778 #779 #780 #781 #782 #783 #784 #785 #786 #787 #820 #823 #824 #825 #826 #827 #828 #829 #830 #831 #832 #833 #834 #835 #836 #837 #838 #839 #840 #841 #842 #843 #844 #845 #846 #847 #848 #849 #850 #851 #852 #853 #854 #855 #856 #857 #858 #859 #860 #861 #862 #863 #864 #865 #866 #867 #868 #869 #870 #871 #872 #873 #874 #875 #876 #876 #877 #878 #879 #880 #881 #882 #883 #884 #885 #886 #887 #888 #889 #890 #891 #892 #893 #894 #895 #896 #897 #898 #899 #900 #901 #902 #903 #904 #905 #906 #907 #908 #909 #910 #911 #912 #913 #914 #915 #916 #917 #918 #919 #920 #921 #922 #923 #924 #925 #926 #927 #928 #929 #930 #931 #932 #933 #934 #935 #936 #937 #938 #939 #940 #941 #942 #943 #944 #945 #946 #947 #948 #949 #950 #951 #952 #953 #954 #955 #956 #957 #958 #959 #960 #961 #962 #963 #964 #965 #966 #967 #968 #969 #970 #971 #972 #973 #974 #975 #976 #977 #978 #979 #980 #981 #982 #983 #984 #985 #986 #987 #988 #989 #990 #991 #992 #993 #994 #995 #996 #997 #998 #999 1 Kislev 10 Kislev 10 Shvat 10 Shvat 10 Teives 11 11 Nissan 112 Tammuz 12 Tammuz 13 Iyar 13 Tishrei 14 Kislev 15 Elul 15 Menachem-Av 15 Shvat 17 Tammuz 18 Elul 19 Kislev 2 Iyar 20 Av 20 Mar-Cheshvan 20 Menachem-Av 22 Shvat 24 Teives 25 Adar 27 Adar 28 Nissan 28 Teives 29 Elul 3 3 Tammuz 33 Tammuz 352 5 Teives 6 Tishrei 7 Adar 770 864 865 881 9 Adar 9 Av 9 Kislev 903 Acharei Acharei-K'doshim Achdus Adar Ahavas Yisroel Alef-Beis All Jews Shall Rise Alter Rebbe Amalek Argentina Arizal army Artwork Aseres HaDibros Australia Avoda Zara B’Chukosai B’Shalach Baal Shem Tov baal t'shuva Baba Sali Balak BaMidbar bar mitzva Basi L'Gani B'Chukosai be Bein HaMeitzarim Beis HaMikdash Beis Nissan Beth Rivkah B'Haalos'cha B'Har B'Har-B'Chukosai Birthday Bitachon Blindness Bo B'rachos Brazil brit milah Brussels B'Shalach Canada chai v'kayam Chanuka Chassidic Rabbis Chayei Sara Chernobil chesed Chevron children chinuch Chitas Choshen Chukas Churban controversy convert Dan Diary of the late R’ Saadya Maatuf Dollars dreams D''varim Editorial Editor's Corner Eikev Elections Elul Emor Europe Family Purity fire France free choice Gaza Gentiles Georgia Gulf War Gush Katif Haazinu Hakhel Halvayas Hameis Hashavas Aveida HaYom Yom Hebron hiskashrus Holy Temple Honesty Honoring Parents Hospitality IDF Igrot Kodesh India Intermarriage Internet Iran Iron Curtain Israel Japan Jewish Refugee Crisis Kabbala K'doshim Kfar Chabad Ki Savo Ki Seitzei Ki Sisa KIDDUSH LEVANA Kiryat Gat Kislev kKi Sisa Kohen Gadol Korach korbanos KOS SHEL BRACHA Krias Shma K'vutza Lag B'Omer lashon ha'ra Lech Lecha letter Litvishe maamer Machatzis HaShekel mahn Mar-Cheshvan marriage Massei Matot Mattos Mattos-Massei Menachem Av Menora Merkos Shlichus Metzora Mexico Mezuzah Miami MiKeitz MIkvah Mishkan Mishpatim Mitteler Rebbe Mitzva Tank Mitzvah Tanks Mivtza Kashrus MIvtza Neshek Mivtza T’fillin Mivtza Tefilin Morocco Moshe Rabbeinu Moshiach & Geula Moshiach Seuda music Names Napoleon Naso Nazi Holocaust niggunim Nissan Nitzavim Nitzavim-VaYeilech Noach Noachide North Africa olive oil painting Parshas Parah parshas re'eh Parshas Zachor Pesach Pesach Sheini Pinchas Pirkei Avos P'kudei Poland prayer Prison prophecy Purim R’ Avrohom Schneersohn Rabbanus Rabbi Hillel Zaltzman Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu Rabbi Shlomo Galperin Rambam Ramban Rashbi Rashi Rebbe Rebbe Maharash Rebbe Rashab Rebbe Rayatz Rebbe Rayatz & Joint Rebbetzin Chana Rebbetzin Chaya Muska Rebbetzin Rivka Red Heifer Reform movement R'ei Rishon L'Tzion Rosh Chodesh Rosh HaShana Russia S’firas HaOmer Samarkand seifer Torah s'firas ha'omer Shabbos Shabbos Bereishis Shabbos Chazo Shabbos Chazon Shabbos Hagadol Shabbos Nachamu shalom bayis Shavuos Shekalim shiduchim Shlach shleimus ha'Aretz shliach shlichus Shmini Shmita Shmos Shoftim shtus Shvat simcha Simchas Torah South Africa Sukkos summer summer camp tahalucha Talmud Torah Tanya Tazria-Metzora te Tefila Tehilim Teives Terror teshuva Tetzaveh t'fillin the soul tisha b'av Tishrei Toldos Tomchei T'mimim Truma t'shuva tTruma Tzanz Tzav Tzedaka Tzemach Tzedek Tzfas tzimtzum Tzitzis Tzniyus Ukraine undefined Upsherinish VaEira VaEs'chanan VaYakhel VaYakhel-P’kudei VaYechi VaYeilech VaYeira VaYeishev VaYeitzei VaYigash VaYikra VaYishlach Vocational Schools Winter women Yechidus Yerushalayim Yeshiva Yisro Yom Kippur Yom Tov Zionism Zohar Zos HaBracha. B'Reishis סיביר
Visitor Feed
Tuesday
Oct202015

CONNECTING TO G-D AND OURSELVES THROUGH NATURE

Through nature, beautiful scenery, sounds and sights, R’ Shachar Yaakov Zeliger, director of B’Reishit, teaches children to connect to G-d, to themselves, and their hidden capabilities. * R’ Zeliger decries the enticements the modern generation offers young people, and offers instead an abundance of activities and exciting adventures that enrich a child’s world and connect him to the incredible abilities he contains within.

We are told that when the holy Baal Shem Tov was a boy, he would spend time secluded in the fields and forests. This is how he connected to his Creator and grew in Torah and fear of heaven. When he was older and was a melamed’s assistant, he kept up his love for the great outdoors and praising his Creator

During his wanderings he met the hidden tzaddikim who adopted him and taught him the secrets of Torah along with the powers of the various plants that grew in the wild and their properties.

From the Baal Shem Tov we learn that a lot of chinuch to believe in the greatness of G-d can be derived from nature. Nowadays, in the generation of the computer and technology, can we teach children emuna through contemplating the wonders of nature? Does this approach belong to the distant past or is it a useful tool today too, in shaping a child’s personality? Is this tool appropriate for every child? What good traits does nature build up in a child?

We spoke with R’ Shachar Yaakov Zeliger of Tzfas, wanting to hear from an expert in chinuch through nature, about what he does and what it accomplishes. R’ Zeliger founded the B’Reishit organization five years ago, with which he seeks to disconnect children from the computer and ignite a fire of emuna within them. He does this through group learning in which he teaches about plants, survival techniques such as starting a fire without matches, making strong ropes, how to sleep outdoors under hot or cold conditions, the properties of trees and plants, and exposure to the great beauty of nature in the forests and fields.

“The move from the outdoors to the computer has created problems for many children that we did not see in the past,” he says.

Tell us about your organization.

The goal of the organization is intertwined with the story of my life. From a young age I felt a strong connection to nature. I was born and raised in the Shomron area and I would hike in the groves and wadis and sometimes in the desert. For five years I was even a shepherd. At those times, when I would sit alone and take care of the sheep, I would be able to think and look around me endlessly, and when you meditate within nature, you are amazed by the harmony in the world around you. You personally experience “How great are your works, Hashem.”

I noticed plants that changed colors in the summer and winter. I saw plants that grew only in a certain season. I observed that nature provides place for every creation and plant and one builds on the other. I asked myself, what is our place within all this beauty? It strengthened me a lot and built up my belief in a Creator and the One who runs the world. Later on I delved deeper and for some years I studied and researched 800 wild plants that grow in Eretz Yisroel.

Along with a love for nature, I was very attracted to chinuch. There were years I even neglected nature in order to teach. However, five years ago, I decided to combine the two, chinuch through nature. That meditation in nature that built up my emuna is something I want to pass along to children. I see how the emuna of the children who were taught in our groups has a different, deeper perspective, in addition to the big bonus that nature helps develop good character traits.

What kind of children do you work with?

We have programs for two segments of the population. There are children who are in the “at risk” category, who are on the verge of dropping out. The challenges and nature adventures we do with them are greater, like spending a week in the desert. Their enticement by all that the modern world has to offer is greater and therefore, to be successful with them, they need to work hard and prove themselves.

Then we have regular kids with whom we do more toned-down activities with more learning and depth. Our goal is that after working with them, the children will feel connected to nature and learn from it about themselves.

Why is it important from an educational point of view, to connect children to nature? What does it do for them?

Someone who walks in nature and does not understand it, what does he see? He sees everything superficially; he observes rows of flowers or thorns but it’s all foreign to him and definitely doesn’t teach him anything. Someone who knows how to recognize each plant knows that this particular plant looked different a week ago, knows the name of every plant, and how it will look in a week. A person who knows how to identify sounds in nature, whether it’s a fox or an owl, knows that every plant and animal has a function; nothing tries to be like something else or to impress anyone.

Furthermore, every flower and animal has periods of growth and periods of decline, a time when it produces beautiful flowers and a time that it dries up, and nobody has a problem with this. In nature there is harmony; each one makes room for the other and nobody tries to be the other.

Think about what educational lessons can be derived from this. Any feeling of competition, that I should be like him or better than someone else, disappears. Each person has his role which is designated by G-d. It is not for nothing that Chazal compare us in numerous places to trees of the field. When a child internalizes this and understands it, his life becomes simpler and easier. He suddenly knows how to handle competition and the worthless exhibitionism of our generation, which is the bane of our educational system, in which nobody looks at himself and wants to be himself; each one wants to be the other.

Can you give specific examples of activities that you do and the educational results that you get and teach the children?

In nature there are many seeds, roots, and fruits that are fit to be eaten. For example, the fruit of the raspberry tree in the north, seeds of the rice-grass that grows in spring – a handful of the seeds of a rice-grass plant is comparable in quality to a loaf of bread. In the winter there are many plants that can be eaten; in the summer you need to be more careful and knowledgeable. There are plants that can be eaten one way or another, depending on the season. For example, there is a plant mentioned in Mishnayos P’sachim as something that can be used for maror on Pesach. In the winter you can eat the leaves, but later on the leaves become thorny and it’s dangerous to eat them.

On the trips we make in nature, we teach this to the children which strengthens their sense of responsibility. They are responsible for knowing when yes and when not. Indirectly, this also greatly strengthens their self-confidence.

We have scouting activities in which we teach the children how to navigate so that even if they are lost, they will know how to reach their destination by using a compass. With the knowledge that he has, the child won’t panic. He will be calm and know that he can be in all kinds of situations and places. It’s a fantastic lesson for life and greatly strengthens a child’s ability to handle the classroom when he is “lost” in various situations. It happens that a child is at a crossroads and doesn’t know which way to turn. The understanding that in the end it will be okay and he will reach his destination strengthens his ability to deal with it, and decide what to do.

Generally speaking, the activities within a group setting bring about group spirit. In the groups that I run privately, children from all backgrounds participate: Litvish, Breslov, Sephardic, and Chabad. It creates tremendous achdus and each one learns to respect the other for his opinions and abilities. Sometimes, a child who is taken to be weak turns out to be the best navigator whom they all rely on. And sometimes, the child who is physically the strongest is the one who carries the equipment on the trip. The dynamics this creates is astonishing and teaches perspective in life.

How do you get kids glued to the computer to join nature activities?

I understand where your question is coming from, but I don’t see the problem. Every child has a built-in curiosity and interest in special things. I challenge them and spark their curiosity.

We don’t offer exclusively educational outings; we have an activity called “David’s Slingshot,” which entails throwing a stone at a target. This activity develops concentration. Children try again and again until they get it. Children really like this. It’s not a daily activity so they don’t get bored with it.

A child with social problems participated in one of the groups. The children rejected him since he was fanciful, telling imaginary stories about himself and his family. When he joined our group we immediately saw that he was a good marksman and he became the outstanding marksman of the group. Within a few days he was able, from a distance of 150 meters, to hit the electric pole, which is fantastic. The amazing thing was that since then, he stopped making things up. He was truly successful and could be proud of what he did and he no longer needed to invent stories.

Have you also been successful with children who are labeled ADD?

Children with attention problems love our activities because of the adrenaline rush they provide. I will give them really big, challenging activities.

A few years ago, I taught a special education class with whom nobody had been successful. I used my knowledge of challenges within nature to get them to learn and this was the prize. Every time we went to the outdoors, I gave them a lot of freedom of movement within the framework I laid out for them.

I got this idea from the days I was a shepherd. When you pressure the sheep, chaos ensues and the sheep run around and are not calm. But when you are relaxed with them and give them space, they feel it and are calm. That’s what happened with the students of this class. I showed them that I relied on them and each of them made sure to keep in sight of the other so they wouldn’t get lost. On every outing like that, we learned a lot through nature. At the end of the year I noticed that in nature the learning was most meaningful to them, far more than what I tried teaching them in the classroom.

We spoke until now about educational and social values. What about spiritual values?

Man is the crown of creation and when he is not connected to nature, to the earth, but to nonsense, that is when the spiritual problems crop up. Western culture loves to create a “cultural hero,” a false representation of a successful person who never fails and is good in every respect. When we try to copy him and are unsuccessful, then we fall into despair and confusion. This is true for adults and all the more so for children. When we teach a child about the plant world we are actually teaching him to recognize himself and accept himself as he is, the good qualities and the negative ones; every person has his uniqueness and mission in this world.

On a deeper level, nature gets a person to think, and when you think, you understand at least a bit of the magnitude of the Creator, “lift up your eyes and see Who created these.” When a child gets to experience the greatness of Hashem from up close, and of course we talk about this, he becomes more of a believer and not just because he was taught, but mainly because he experienced it with all of his senses.

R’ Zeliger considers his work superlative education and not just something to satisfy children’s liking for adventures or to provide them with interesting pastimes.

Throughout the year he has ongoing classes with yeshivos and elementary schools and he sees wonders with children whose self-confidence is low. Their self-image improves, fears vanish, and their emuna in Hashem is strengthened.

He recommends that parents take his lead, each with the knowledge that they have, to connect children to Hashem through nature.

IDEAS FOR NATURE ACTIVITIES FOR PARENTS
AND CHILDREN THAT COST NOTHING

1-Take water and go on a nature hike any time, not just vacation. Go out when it’s comfortable, early in the morning or late afternoon. Maintain a nice atmosphere and after the hike recount the enjoyable experiences you shared. What will remain in the child’s consciousness is the experiences that you spoke about and not necessarily what he actually experienced.

2-Using a thick rope, plan a course that requires you to climb up and down using the rope. Do it in such a way that everyone will have to help the other and be dependent on the other. This is a challenging, unifying, and unforgettable experience. You can also tie the rope to a rock and practice climbing.

3-Buy a whole chicken and out in nature light a bonfire around which you build a wall of rocks. When only coals remain, place the chicken on them, and cover it with boiling hot rocks. After an hour, the chicken will be ready to eat and very tasty. Using fire is an opportunity to teach responsibility and caution.

4-Set up a target at a distance that is age appropriate. Collect rocks and have the family compete in throwing stones at the target. It’s a fun experience for children to see their parents’ misses.

5-Go out into nature and listen to it. Have the entire family lie on the roof, close their eyes, and listen to sounds. Everyone must be perfectly quiet. See who can count the most sounds and can identify them. The winner is the one who heard the most sounds.

6-Buy water guns and take the family to the forest. Give each child a gun and have a water fight. It’s a very liberating and unifying experience, one which they will remember until 120.

7-Plan an outing along with a sleepover or just go on a sleepover. Come prepared with a tent, water, blankets, fire, flashlights, and food, of course. The kids will never forget it.

8-Go on a night hike with your children. Choose a night in the middle of the month with a full moon. Experience nature at night, look at the stars, listen to the sounds. Try and walk by the light of the moon without using flashlights.

9-Teach your children how to build a bonfire correctly. Start with straw, twigs, and thin branches, place large pieces on top, in size order, and have a contest to see who lights his bonfire with the fewest matches. This is also an opportunity to teach them how to light fires safely.

10-To end off, buy ice cream, cut a watermelon or any melon.

Go out once a week, each time with another child to a quiet place in nature. This is quality time which is worth more than countless fun activities that our generation offers.

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.