As a homeschooling family, we feel privileged that we have a seemingly endless amount of hours each day to focus on our children's character development. We address Jewish values in a twofold manner. We use the weekly parasha as our springboard for discussions and our real life experiences for putting the mitzvot into action. With this approach opportunities are constantly arising to work on middot like anger management, charity, perseverance, respect, etc.
This week's parasha Acharei-Kedoshim focuses on the the topic of mattanot le'aniyyim (gifts to the poor) and is addressed through the mitzvot of leket and pe'ah . Leket is an obligation on the farmer to leave the crops that fall to the ground during his harvesting for the poor. Pe'ah is the farmer's obligation to leave a corner of his land unharvested for the poor. Tuesday morning we discussed these concepts and then turned them into a role play scenario by using some toy food and Lego blocks. The girls each took turns being either the farmer leaving the dropped food on the ground or the needy person collecting the fallen crops. We then used Lego blocks to mark off a square farm land and made sure to leave one corner untouched for the needy. This led to a discussion about acknowledging that our possessions are gifts from Hashem and that we must not harden our hearts and be stingy with them.
This lesson transitioned beautifully into real life practice when we went grocery shopping later that afternoon. While at the grocery store, a woman pushing her son in a baby carriage walked over to us and asked us for tzedakah (charity) so she could buy some food for her child. I promptly opened my wallet and asked my older daughter to give the woman a dollar. The smile on my daughter's face was priceless. I knew she had made the connection between her act of kindness and that morning's lesson. What I hope to do in the future is have a special wallet set aside for my daughter filled with her own earned money so that she can get a sense of giving tzedakah from money that she feels a stronger attachment to.