Give Me Your Hand

לב השבוע בעת צרה
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Written by:
Yishai Singer
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How can we bring someone struggling or suffering “back to life”? Using the story of Rav Chanina and Rav Yochanan in Masechet Brachot, this limmud helps participants move from empathy to action.

ברכה ראשונה

 

  1. מספרים: Ask participants to share on a scale of 1-10 how present they are (1=I’m here but my mind is some place else, 10=I’m completely present and ready to learn/discuss). Alternatively, you can ask students to share one word that describes the emotion they are currently feeling.

    Together with their number or emotion, ask participants to share a one sentence story describing what’s on their mind today.
  2. Ask participants: Who am I worried or concerned about?
  3. Ask participants: When did I understand that there is a situation of צרה, distress or suffering?

 

לימוד ועבודה פנימית

Rabbi Yoḥanan fell ill. 

 

Rabbi Ḥanina entered to visit him, 

 

and said to him: Is your suffering dear to you? 

 

Rabbi Yoḥanan said to him: I welcome neither this suffering nor its reward. 

 

Rabbi Ḥanina said to him: Give me your hand. 

 

He gave him his hand, and Rabbi Ḥanina stood him up and restored him to health.

 

The Gemara asks: Why did Rabbi Yoḥanan wait for Rabbi Ḥanina to restore him to health? If he was able to heal his student, let Rabbi Yoḥanan stand himself up.

The Gemara answers, they say: A prisoner cannot generally free himself from prison, but depends on others to release him from his shackles.

רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן חֲלַשׁ.

עָל לְגַבֵּיהּ רַבִּי חֲנִינָא.

אֲמַר לֵיהּ: חֲבִיבִין עָלֶיךָ יִסּוּרִין? 

אֲמַר לֵיהּ: לֹא הֵן וְלֹא שְׂכָרָן. 

אֲמַר לֵיהּ: הַב לִי יְדָךְ. 

יְהַב לֵיהּ יְדֵיהּ, וְאוֹקְמֵיהּ

אַמַּאי, לוֹקִים רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן לְנַפְשֵׁיהּ?

אָמְרִי: אֵין חָבוּשׁ מַתִּיר עַצְמוֹ מִבֵּית הָאֲסוּרִים.

Questions for reflection and discussion:

Participants can split into chavrutot, discuss as a group or split the questions between group discussion and chavruta.

  1. What part of the story struck you?
  2. How do you imagine ר’ יוחנן’s “outstretched hand”?

     

  3. “אין חבוש מתיר עצמו מבית האסורים"- Why does this make sense? What is the deeper meaning behind it?

     

  4. Who are some of the people who are “חלש” and experiencing “יסורין” now? What do you think they are going through?

     

  5. Who do you want to be מושיט יד to? How?

     

  6. What words might you add to the “hand outstretching”? 

(Alternatively you can ask: Whose perspective do you connect with more at this moment? Do you feel you can be מושיט יד or need someone to be מושיט יד to you?)

 

ברכה אחרונה

Bring the group together and ask everyone to share their ideas for being “מושיט יד”.

Ask everyone to respond to:

What gives me strength during challenging times and how do I want to give strength to others?

Ask students, without sharing,  to try to think of someone specific they want to reach out to.

Download with student handouts:
Please help others by sharing how you used the resource, how you adapted it (link to your own version!) and what worked more or less well. You can also post questions that Lifnai Vlifnim staff or community members will try to respond to.

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