HASHEM spoke to Moses and Aaron saying: The Children of Israel shall
encamp, each man by his division, with the flag staffs of their
fathers' house; some distance from the Tent of Meeting they shall encamp.
With the flag staffs: Every division shall have its own flag staff,
with a colored flag hanging on it; the color of one being different from the
color of any other. (Rashi)
Every division shall have its own flag staff, with a colored flag hanging on
it; the color of one being different from the color of any other.Every
division shall have its own flag staff, with a colored flag hanging on it;
the color of one being different from the color of any other.Every division
shall have its own flag staff, with a colored flag hanging on it; the color
of one being different from the color of any other.Here is the ideal
formation of all the tribes as they are configured by HASHEM in the desert.
Every individual was included as part of a group that had its own distinct
flag and color according to their family. Hmmmm! What current lesson can we
glean from this ancient mandate?
Every family and individual is gifted with different strengths and
challenges. Therefore even if everyone is keeping the same Shabbos Holy, the
flavor of their table and every person around that table also varies. How
can that personal touch be emphasized and encouraged?
Here are a few activities that have worked wonderfully at our Shabbos table
almost every week and we do not get bored. On Friday nights we go around the
table with the same question. “What did you do this week that gave you the
greatest feeling of accomplishment?” At first when we started this,
admittedly, people wanted to run away rather than answer. Now, they can’t
wait for their chance. Somebody got up early and studied. Someone helped a
friend. One week we had three guests and one said he had a nice conversation
with his mother. Another said all of Tehillim each day and another made it
twice to Shacharis that week. One of our children got an 80% on a math test,
claiming it was hard for her and she thought she would fail. One washed a
large pile of dishes in preparation for Shabbos. Somebody forgave a friend
and somebody else ignored an insult. Every pronouncement is met by a bouncy
song to applaud and highlight the feeling of accomplishment.
We came to realize a few important and personal truths in this pastime.
People usually feel good about doing something that was hard for them to do
or something they did for someone else. Each person reveals a small part of
their personal struggle in declaring their individual victory. They learn
over time to look forward to doing challenging things and feeling better
later and they learn how to reward themselves and feel good about things
that are unique to their situation rather than to aim only for generic goals
that general society gives recognition to. These discussions can last quite
a long time and everyone feels heard and rewarded in the process.
On Shabbos day we play“The Gratitude Game”. Rather than lecture about being
grateful and feeling good about what we have, we play a fun game. I start,
“I am grateful for something that starts with the letter “G”” (for example).
Suddenly people start to guess items and categories that zero in on thing I
have in my mind. Whoever gets it has the chance to state, “I am grateful for
something that starts with the letter…”
Everyone should be ready with something that they feel grateful for and
turns can be shared or given away to help include those who feel left out or
overmatched. Eventually, people of all ages are getting into it. It makes
the Shabbat table a fun and interesting place to be, besides quietly
teaching us to feel good about the details in our lives.
The combo of these two activities helps us reflect on the two important
questions: 1) What are we doing to improve our state of being? 2) How
grateful are we for what HASHEM is doing for us?
No two weeks or discussions are ever the same and even if all families in
the Jewish Nation would do the same activities at their Shabbos table, no
two would ever be exactly alike. Each family and person has their own
special flavor -flag and that represents their individual tastes and
challenges and their unique appreciations and accomplishments.