For many years now, I have been teaching the Melachos of Shabbos to my fourth grade classes. For many this is an eye opening experience on many levels. First and foremost, it is their first real exposure to the logic as to why certain actions are permitted or prohibited. On a different level, this is the first exposure to a time that has passed. The laws pertaining to Shabbos, as we learn them in the Mishnah and Shulchan Aruch, were written to be applied to everyday life in a time period that has passed. A time before the advent of electricity and modern appliances, a time when everything a person used, he grew or made.
In order to bring this to life for my students, we then head to a local historical farm to see how life was lived in the 1830’s and learn how the melachos were performed. The students get to do and see many different activities. In the end, they actually experience or hear about all 39 melachos. They have a great time and learn a tremendous amount.
After taking the local kollel, who were learning Masechta Shabbos, to view the ranch on a mature scholarly level, I saw that as adults many of us need to experience the past in order to learn hilchos Shabbos correctly. The idea for a video depicting all 39 melachos was born. It would be geared for children, but provide a learning experience to talmidei chachamim looking to find out how a particular melacha was preformed.
The months of May and June were spent on hours and hours of research as to what should be shown in the video. In the beginning of July, the first version of the script was written. I say first version, because it had to be totally overhauled. In the meantime the actors were identified: I and a seventh grader in our school. By the time the second version was ready and edited (after many hours of hard work,) it was the middle of August and school had started. We are now limited to Sundays to rehearse and film. Which brings us to our next technical problem; all the Sundays in the near future are Yomim Tovim. In the meantime, we are memorizing our lines. I feel that this might be the hardest part of the whole project. Anyone with any tips, please let me know.