Kenisah – Entrances

Prepare My Prayer, 16-18
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Written by:
Lifnai Vlifnim Staff
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לימוד ועבודה פנימית

(20 minutes)


The midrash in Devraim explains:

What does it mean “to watch by my doors”? The Holy Blessed One said, “If you went to pray in the synagogue, do not stand at the outer entrance to pray, rather intend to go inside, door after door.” It does not say “to watch by my door” but my doors” - two doors. 

[You may want to give out/read together Rav Dov’s introduction on pg. 17] 

In order to deepen our awareness of how we enter tefillah and its different stages, we are going to explore different kinds of entrances we experience in our lives. We know that there’s a difference between experiences that we “get into” and ones that we are “out of it”. What does it take us to “get into” something?

You are going to choose an “entrance experience” and try to break down the different stages. For example, let’s try to identify four stages of “getting into” Lev Hashavua. [Ask students for examples. These should include: Coming into the classroom, choosing a seat in the circle, looking around at the people in the group, Mispar/sippur/beracha rishona. You can also choose on the examples below but then you should encourage students to choose a different on in their avodah.]

Individual Avodah (students are highly encouraged to write)

  1. Choose an “entrance experience” you go through on a typical week. Examples may include: Entering your house after a day at school, bringing in Shabbat (at home or at camp), getting ready to start an important test, getting ready for an important basketball game… 
    Try to identify four different stages of entering or “getting into” the activity. Stage 1:Stage 2:

    Stage 3:

    Stage 4:

  2. What is the moment when you end the process of kenisah/entering and actually start being in the experience? (e.g. in the game, experience shabbat, at home)
  3. What are some of the forces or factors pushing back on you and preventing you from making a full kenisah/entrance? 

Discussion in chavrutot of 2 or 3

Chavrutot should share their answers or portions of their answer with each other. They should then discuss together (or perhaps go back into individual writing) the following questions focused on tefillah: 

  1. On a day when you are able to, when does tefillah actually “begin” for you
  2. What about that moment allows you to make your kenisah/entrance and “get into” davening?
  3. What holds you back and prevents you from making a full kenisah/entrance?
  4. What helps you?

ברכה אחרונה

(5 minutes)

Go around and ask each student to share, without explanation, the moment (or moments) of kenisah/entrance into tefillah that they would like to be more mindful of over the course of the coming week (e.g. when I walk into the Beit Midrash, when I put on my tefillin, when I open my siddur etc.). Challenge them to see how being more mindful about their kenisah/entrance impacts their tefillah.

Notes to the teacher

  • This is the place to make suggestions to the teacher of different ways they may choose to facilitate this limmud
  • Or particular grade levels or sensitivities to take into account
  • Or anything else you think is important for the teacher to know

עבודת המורה

  • This is the place to raise some questions that make sure the teacher tests the limmud on themselves or others
  • Could be a general question like - which part of the limmud resonated most for you? Which question was the hardest for you to answer?
  • Or questions anticipating students’ responses- What do you think students will say for X or Y? To what extent are you open to being surprised?
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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