Thursday, 29 May 2008

Windows on a Fresh New World by Rosemary Kahn

As a teacher of young children, one has the tremendous privilege of opening their eyes to the many wonders of the world around us. Each and every day there is the opportunity to show them something new from the garden, from the school playground or playing fields. Weekend walks in the forest or on one of our beautiful beaches yield treasures without number. A perfect shell can be the start of a drawing or painting lesson; a lesson researching the names of shells and sea creatures. This could mean a visit to the school library where not only books but also charts can be found. A weaverbird's nest always brings the question of HOW a bird knows instinctively to build a nest to a certain pattern. Are they taught? They don't have pattern books like the knitters in the family. Hours of research and chatter will bring many fascinating answers but the best thing of all is that it has got children thinking.

Looking feeling; teaching and questioning are valuable experiences woven into the school day of the young child. In return, these little people provide their teachers with an endless range of "lessons" too.

As their vocabularies are enriched by their experiences, so their use of words is increased and the teacher is often surprised by the insight expressed in stories and poems, even by children in Grades 1 and 2. A child might write about a beloved grandmother and in a few short words, sum up the family situation. "My Granny is kind. She lives all alone." Speaks volumes, doesn't it?"

Most of all one has to love and admire the wisdom of the young child and the way it is expressed. So much can be learned, if one just takes time to listen. We as adults might say one thing, but their experience shows them another. Here's an example.

Once after a lesson about Noah and the Flood and the rainbow, which was to remind us of G-d's promise never to cause such a flood again, a small boy looked out of the open classroom door and across the passage, at a particularly heavy downpour. Head thrown back he surveyed the leaden sky and with his hands on his hips, said loudly, above the noise of the rain, "Promises, promises!"

The class was settled and the first lesson of the morning in progress, when suddenly the door was pushed open and a seven-year old boy rushed in.

"Sorry I'm late!" he said, "Today I walked to school through the clouds!" and that was almost true, for that morning there had been an exceptionally thick and swirling ground mist all the way from his home to the school and beyond. In parts it had been waist high.

"Was it wet and cold," asked a little girl?

"Just as wet and cold and soft as a cloud," came the reply. "I was just a little bit scared because the path had disappeared. But my feet knew the way!"

The class was silent, taking in all those feelings and then in a moment there was a burst of chatter and they had moved on.

The childhood years go by so quickly. Parents should take time in their busy lives just to stop and look at the world through the eyes of their children. This is your special gift from them to you. Keep your memories close to your heart so that one-day, perhaps, these precious gems can be shared with your grandchildren.

Rosemary Kahn is a talented teacher and authoress. She is the author of :

1) "Grandma's Hat" published by Songololo Books in SA, Viking Kesterel in USA and Walker Books in UK. This books has been sold world wide and studied in children's literature at UNISA.
2) Naomi's Tonsil published by Juta in SA
3) Various school readers.

If you are interested in publishing a book or article of hers or would like to sponsor a book or article please email for further details.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Time to Pray - The Difference

In the introduction to Leiv Esther, I mentioned that Esther bas Nachum Dov Ber z"l loved poetry. She often taught her children deep and beautiful teachings through an appropriate poem. Here is the first of many poems that will be posted regularly. I hope you enjoy the powerful messages and will take them to heart.

The Difference:

I got up early one morning
and rushed right into the day;
I had so much to accomplish
that I didn't have time to pray.

Problems just tumbles about me,
and heavier came each task.
"Why doesn't G-d help me?" I wondered.
He answered, "You didn't ask."

I wanted to see joy and beauty,
but the day toiled on, gray and bleak;
I wondered why God didn't show me.
He said, "But you didn't seek."

I tried to come into G-d's presence,
I used all my keys at the lock.
G-d gently and lovingly chided,
"My child, you didn't knock."

I woke up early this morning
and paused before entering the day;
I had so much to accomplish
that I had to take time to pray.

author  Grace L Naessens

So often in the modern, hurried life we live, we rush about our days, trying to cram every moment with all manner of activities. The truth is, if we would just stop for a moment and ask the Creator of All to Guide and Bless our day, we would have far more chance of real success.

May each of you take the time to talk to Hashem from the heart, in your own words. Let Him know what you are going through, how you feel, what you want to achieve. Whatever is on your mind or sitting on your heart, pour it out to Hashem. May you be blessed with Hashem answering your prayers immediately for the good, a good that is revealed, visible and manifest in all physical and spiritual matters.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Explanation of Leiv Esther

LEIV ESTHER - The Services for Women through Dira B'Tachtonim

In the commentary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe on Parsha Shmini, the Rebbe explains that there was 7 days of preparation for the Inauguration into the Mishkan. This Inauguration which took place on the 8th day, provided a dwelling place for Hashem's Shechina in this world. In the same way during our years of Exile we have work to do in order to prepare for the Final Temple. The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that our preparation while in Gulus is Acts of Goodness and Kindness.


Queen Esther, the original Esther, provides a powerful example of the ultimate acts of goodness and kindness. From the Purim story we see how she was prepared to sacrifice her own happiness for the higher good of her people, Am Yisrael. We see that she had the insight to know that prior to approaching the king, she needed to prepare herself which she did through a 3 day fast and tshuva (repentence). At the same time she inspired each and every Jew to do the same, thus coming closer to Hashem, the ultimate King in order to effect a positive change in this world for the betterment of all.

The Womens section of Yeshivas Dira B'Tachtonim is named after two very special people, Yehuda Leib ben Devorah and Esther bas Nachum Dov Ber z"l, reminding us of the message within the heart of Esther. This other Esther, i.e. Esther bas Nachum Dov Ber z"l set an example of the importance of spreading goodness and kindness. She loved poetry and had a keen eye for and appreciation of art, music, hospitality and nature and through this gained a wonderment of Hashem's creation and creativity. This Esther loved to teach how to behave in this world through anecdotes and poems. One of her favourites was:

"I shall pass by this way but once

Therefore any goodness that I can do

Or any indness that I can show

Let me do it now.

For I shall not walk this way again" Anonymous

Esther bas Nachum Dov Ber z"l lived as best she could by this teaching and taught it to her children and grandchildren. Another saying we often talked about was "Reach for the stars and you might just get to the moon."

Esther bas Nachum Dov Ber also taught her children the art of the Jewish woman in developing a beautiful home. Her home was always neat, tidy, clean and filled with love and hospitality.

Her husband Yehuda Leib or Leiv as in this title, is a scientist and artist. Combining the artistic talent that comes from the heart or Leiv and the poetry, you will find many paintings and other arts and crafts available for sale. Many of these paintings have messages that accompany them. Others have Tehillim and motivational sayings on the art or photography itself.

Following the theme of how to improve ourselves as Jewish Women in order to enhance our acts of goodness and kindness and our role as home maker, Leiv Esther offers a few services specifically for women:

5) GIFTS FOR CHAGIM AND SMACHOT ( for an idea of examples view our on-line album at )

For more information regarding any of the above services, please email


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