From Heart to Mouth

מה’ מענה לשון
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Written by:
Yehuda Chanales
Access editable doc with student handouts:

Using the ימים נוראים tefillah of אוחילה לקל, this limmud helps participants learn how to help others express what they are thinking and feeling in deeper and more meaningful ways. Participants consider the challenge of articulating what is in our hearts and the role that ה’ and others can play in helping them.  

ברכה ראשונה

(10 minutes)

Option #1

  • סיפור שלי להיום - Go around and ask each participant to share (could be in addition to name and מספר נוכחות) a one sentence story about their day. (If you have a large group you can even make it shortened by them just sharing a title for the story of their day.)
  • Ask for a few volunteers to ask a question about someone else’s story. They should turn to the person they want to ask a question of, say their name and ask the question. For the first two questions, the person being asked should not be allowed to respond to the question. After that you can give the person being asked the option of answering or not.  (Bonus: Ask students to rate how deep/vulnerable they think someone would need to be to answer the question on a scale of 1-10)
  • Ask the group:
    •  For those who asked questions, why did you choose to ask what you did? (possible answers: I was curious what they would answer, I wanted to know if they were similar to me, no one else was asking questions so I came up with something…)
    • For those who were asked questions, how did it feel? Was there a difference between when you were allowed to respond/responded and when you were not?

Option #2 (may be better for older students, more closely connected to the text)

  • Ask students to say their name and rate on a scale of 1-5 how often they have a hard time expressing themselves in speech or writing. 1=rarely, 5=all the time
  • You can ask if anyone is willing to share an example of a time when this was particularly hard for them. 
  • Discuss with the group: 
    • What makes it hard for us to express what we’re really thinking or feeling?  (some possible answers- we’re not really sure ourselves, we’re nervous what others will think, we’re not sure the words we choose properly express what we mean)
    • What helps? (some possible answers- when we are clear on what we want or want to share, when we know others will ask questions if we are not clear, when we know people are really listening and are trying to understand us..)

לימוד ועבודה פנימית

(20 minutes)

You could read the tefillah below or have students follow along with the words and play Yishay Ribo’s version of the song

תפילת ימים נוראים

I shall await the LORD, I shall entreat his favor,

I shall ask Him to grant my tongue eloquence…

In the midst of the congregated nation I shall sing of His strength;

I shall burst out in joyous melodies for his works.

The thoughts in man's heart are his to arrange,

but the tongue's eloquence comes from the Lord.

Hashem, open my lips, so that my mouth may declare Your praise

אוֹחִֽילָה לָקל. אֲחַלֶּה פָנָיו. 

אֶשְׁאֲלָה מִמֶּנּוּ מַעֲנֵה לָשׁוֹן:

אֲשֶׁר בִּקְהַל עָם אָשִֽׁירָה עֻזּוֹ. 

אַבִּֽיעָה רְנָנוֹת בְּעַד מִפְעָלָיו:

לְאָדָם מַעַרְכֵי לֵב. 

וּמֵה' מַעֲנֵה לָשׁוֹן:

ה', שְׂפָתַי תִּפְתָּח. וּפִי יַגִּיד תְּהִלָּתֶֽךָ:

Questions for Reflection and/or Discussion:

  • What do you think we are asking ה’ for in this tefillah? What do you notice?
  • Why do you think we need his help?
  • Why do you think this tefillah is part of the davening on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur?

Explain: Soon we will beginning פרנסות, an important part of our Lev Hashavua experience. During פרנסות, part of our job is simply to listen to the פרנסית and hear what she has to share. Sometimes, we will have an opportunity to respond and ask questions. In those moments, we have the opportunity to be like Hashem and help the other person better express and understand their thoughts and feelings.

  • How do you approach a conversation differently when your goal is to help the person you are talking to? 
  • What are some examples of questions we can ask that can push the parnasit to express themselves and understand what they’re really thinking or feeling in a deeper way? (Bonus: Rate how deep/vulnerable you think the question would be on a scale of 1-10)
    • (If you need to be more concrete you can go back to one of the stories from the beginning and use that person as an example or you can share your own half baked thought and ask the group to question you.)
    • (Make a list of the questions your group came up with. You can add some of these to the list yourself and share them with the group during parnasut to help prompt them.)

ברכה אחרונה

(10 minutes)
  • What’s something you learned from today’s לב השבוע?
  • Think to yourself: What is one thing that you really want Hashem to give you a “מענה לשון” for this יום כיפור? Something about yourself or your life that you’d like to better be able to articulate/explain? 
  • Share one word that will help you remember this need during your tefillot on Yom Kippur.

Notes to the teacher

  • Younger grades may have a more difficult time with some of the open ended prompts. You may want to give more concrete examples or skip some of the questions.
  • Option #1 in the ברכה ראשונה puts the focus on listening and questioning skills while #2 may connect more to the tefillah text

עבודת המורה

  • How often are your own conversations with others about helping them and how often are they opportunities for you to share your ideas or advice?
  • In what areas of your own life do you need a “מענה לשון” from ה’?
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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