Converts in Tanakh
- According to many midrashim, various non-Jews in Tanakh converted to Judaism. Divide the class into groups and assign each a convert to explore (e.g. Yitro, Paroh's daughter Bityah, Rachav, Rut, Queen of Sheba). After learning the texts (both Biblical and Rabbinic sources), have each group create a Facebook profile for their convert. On his/her "wall" have the convert write about what led to his/her conversion. For sources, see Yitro's Religious Identity.
- Compare and contrast the "conversion" processes of Yitro and Rut.
Jewish Encounters with Non-Jews
Divide the class into groups to explore various stories found in Tanakh which describe friendly encounters with non-Israelites. Have each group read their assigned text, thinking about the following:
- What led to the encounter?
- How do the Israelite and non-Israelite relate to each other?
- How does the non-Israelite relate to Hashem?
- How does the encounter end?
Have each group make a comic strip that depicts the encounter and includes the above elements. After each group presents their story, have the entire class compare the common elements of all the stories and discuss the ramifications. For some ideas, see Encounters with Foreign Leaders.
Introduce the concept of chronology and ordering in Tanakh in general. Define the term אין מוקדם ומאוחר, and discuss general trends amongst commentators. Afterwards choose a few stories in Tanakh where some commentators suggest that there is achronology. Divide students and have each group create a PowerPoint presentation which explores the various suggested chronologies of their individual story. Make sure they include:
- At least two positions regarding the timing of the event.
- What motivates each exegete to say what he does.
- For the commentators who posit achronology, write out their alternative chronology and explain why the Torah might have preferred not to write the story in its correct place.
These are some samples.
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