Maimonides School: Middle School Matters

Oct. 7, 2016                       Parashat Vayellech                  5 Tishrei, 5777 

Maimonides School
In This Issue
D'var Torah
Thoughts of the Rav
Eighth-Grade Save the Date
Sixth-Grade Science
Seventh-Grade Hebrew
Eighth-Grade Spanish
S'chach for Sukkot
2016-17 Calendars
Handbook Online
Vehicle Policies
Maimo on Instagram
Directory Online
Absence Notifications
Online Photo Galleries

Quick Links
Find Maimonides On:

Dear MS Families,    

We hope that your Rosh Hashana was a meaningful time of reflection for you and your families. We were happy to see your children back at school and ready to learn!

Please read on for a d'var Torah from Rabbi Dov Huff, a thought from the works of Rav Soloveitchik, and some highlights from the week.

Shabbat Shalom! 

Brian Cohen
Associate Principal, Middle School  

D'var Torah

by Rabbi Dov Huff 
כי ביום הזה יכפר עליכם לטהר אתבם מכל חטאתיכם לפני ה תטהרו

The concept of kaparah is an odd one. The gemara tells us that
עיצומו שליום כיפור מכפר- the very day of Yom Kippur atones. A philosophically odd sentiment given our general focus on the relationship between our maasim, our actions, and the resulting rewards or punishments. How can we sit passively by while the day of Yom Kippur magically cleanses us of our sins?
We can wonder the same about the avodah - the service performed by the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur. He would go through a rigorous training week and then perform the highly involved, precise, and perilous service. Running on no sleep, he must deliver a flawless performance, remembering when to do what and how, moving seamlessly from one phase to the next. Any misstep would be his last. The intense activity of the Kohen Gadol stands in sharp contrast to that of the rest of the Jewish people, waiting passively for the service to be complete - ready to rejoice with the Kohen Gadol when he finishes. But what did they do to deserve forgiveness? How does this process of kaparah work?
The Rav in על התשובה points out that the pasuk in אחרי מות refers to two components of Yom Kippur - kaparah and taharah - one active and one passive. Kaparah, says the Rav, is not a repentance. It is a forgiveness. Indeed, we cannot expect to atone passively for our sins. Hashem, through His middat Harachamim, provides us with a mechanism to defend ourselves, a force field to protect us from the impending consequences of our actions. This is what the day of Yom Kippur and the service of the Kohen provide - not a solution, but a shield. They protect us, but in no way improve us.
Taharah, says the Rav, is a different thing altogether. Taharah is the pursuit of perfection. It is our attempt to purge ourselves of our less-than-ideal qualities, to better ourselves as people. In the process of taharah, we fundamentally change ourselves. While kaparah protects us, taharah perfects us. Yom Kippur demands purity of us. While we are passive in kaparah, we are the driving force fueling our own taharah.
What is the primary mechanism by which we achieve taharah? The viduy - the confession we repeat over the course of the day. This is our avodah: the recognition of our sins, and the attempt to improve ourselves. This avodah is so intensely personal it cannot be accomplished by anyone else. Not the Kohen Gadol, and not the shliyach tzibbur. It is for this reason that we say the viduy ourselves, even during the chazan's repetition. Because the chazan cannot achieve taharah for us, anymore than someone can immerse themselves in a mikvah on our behalf. The work of taharah is active, personal, demanding, and transformational. 
With this relationship in mind, the Rav gives us a new understanding of a familiar piece of the Yom Kippur davening. As the chazan goes through the avodah of the Kohen Gadol, in three spots he stands before the nation reciting the verse ...כי ביום הזה יכפר עליכם לטהר אתבם מכל חטאתיכם לפני הand leaving out the final word. And as he does, the entire nation drops to their knees, crying out in unison: ברוך שם כבוד מלכותו לעולם ועד
The machzor describes this stunning moment, orchestrated by the Kohen Gadol, his voice joining the people's in a powerful crescendo as they all complete their proclamations together. And then silence. Only one word is left. The Kohen Gadol looks at the nation and says תטהרו - I did my part. The part of kaparah. Now you do yours: purify yourselves.
Questions for the Shabbos table:
  1. What was your takeaway from the d'var Torah this morning?
  2. Which other components of Yom Kippur do you think are about kaparah?
  3. Which other components of Yom Kippur do you think are about taharah?
Thoughts of the Rav

by Rabbi David Saltzman

Last week, we explored the concept of
mechila. Today, we will define the idea of
kapara and slicha.
The Rav explains that when someone transgresses against Hashem, they are deserving of punishment, and mechila lessens the punishment's severity. A second deterrent which affects the transgressor is metaphysical. The person's nefesh (soul) is sullied when not following the word of G-d. A sin detaches us from our Father in heaven and places a hole in our soul.
Yom Kippur has the additional aspect of repairing our connection to G-d as He heals our spiritual wounds and brings our soul closer to being complete. As the pasuk states:  
כִּי בַיּוֹם הַזֶּה יְכַפֵּר עֲלֵיכֶם לְטַהֵר אֶתְכֶם, מִכֹּל חַטֹּאתֵיכֶם לִפְנֵי ה' תִּטְהָרוּ.
For on this day atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you of all your sins; you shall be clean before the L-rd.
As the pasuk states, Yom Kippur brings kapara (slicha), which spiritually purifies the transgressor. Let's pray for a complete mechila and kapara for this coming Yom Kippur.
Eighth-Grade Parents Save the Date: Let's Talk

Parlor-Style Meetings After the Chagim

Eighth-grade parents will soon receive an invitation to attend one of two parlor-style meetings for an evening of conversation with the Upper School principals. This will be an opportunity to learn more about the Upper School -- what we offer, of course, but at least as important, how and WHY we do what we do.

Wednesday, November 2

7:30-9:00 p.m.

at the home of

  Norah Mazar and Shmuel Weglein

7 Windsor Road


Sunday, November 6
7:00-8:30 p.m.
at the home of

Deena and Avi Traum

26 Ames Court


We hope to see you there!

Sixth-Grade Science

by Katie Smith 

In sixth-grade science, we started off the year working on team-building and engineering skills! The students had to work together to build the strongest possible jellybean structure. After some team-building, we jumped into our weather and climate unit, starting off with our atmosphere. From day one, students were engaged in hands-on experiments observing the gases in our atmosphere and the mass of air. We concluded this week with a test on the atmosphere.


Seventh-Grade Hebrew
by Dr. Mor-li Hartman and Barak Cerf

The students of Hebrew 7b are on the last chapter of our book Bishvil HaIvrit 1. We look forward to working with our new materials once we're done!


We have been speaking recently about our family members and family relations, discussing our family trees, and talking about family gatherings. We are now working on studying traditions - מסורות - in non-Jewish cultures, Jewish culture, and the specific Israeli culture in regard to rites of passage, centering on Bar and Bat Mitzvah customs.

In Hebrew 7c, the students have been working on a unit called מדברים על המדבר - Conversations About the Desert. In order to discuss this topic, the students were exposed to various communication methods - such as text messaging, storytelling, and listening comprehension - all while learning new vocabulary and practicing grammatical structures, such as the infinitive form.

Eighth-Grade Spanish

by Estefania Torres

The eighth-grade Spanish students began their study of this beautiful language by learning basic greetings. They went on to learn how to count in Spanish, practicing by doing math problems in Spanish to make sure the numbers become automatic. Once we had our numbers down, we used them to ask what time it is, and to answer our friends' questions.

Right now, the students are working on two different projects. First, they are creating a Spanish version of their daily schedules, using their new knowledge of numbers and time.  Second, they are using their greetings vocabulary to create their own comic strips.   
S'chach for Your Sukkah!

If you have ordered s'chach through the PTA, please pick it up on Thursday, October 13, between 7 and 8 p.m. sukkah
Printable and Electronic Calendars Online

The printable school calendar for this year is now online at
The electronic calendar for 2016-17 is also online!  You can visit throughout the year for the most up-to-date information on everything that's happening, both throughout the school and in each individual division.

The online calendar can be customized to show only the divisions and events you wish to see.  See for more detailed information on how to use the calendar.

In addition, you will be able to subscribe so that school events and alerts will appear on your personal calendar.  More information will follow soon.

Handbook Now Online

The Parent/Student Handbook is now on the Maimo website! Read it online here. 

Username is: maimoparents 
Password is: horim

Vehicle Policies and Procedures

Please see this link for current information on the school's parking policies, as well as updated drop-off and pick-up procedures.

Follow Maimo on Instagram


   We're expanding our social media network! 

   Please follow us on Instagram at

. If you're new to our

   community, note that we're also on Facebook

   (Maimonides School, Maimonides Early

   Childhood Center) and Twitter

   (@kolrambam). You'll find all the latest news and activities from school posted on our social media outlets.

Online Access to Directory

We know many of you are eager to connect with each other! The printed Maimonides School 2016-17 Directory is in production, but parents can access the directory information online via MyBackpack.  

In order to locate family or classmate contact information, follow these steps:
  1. Log into My Backpack
  2. To find a single family, search by last name in the Directory box
  3. To generate an entire grade list, click on "Advanced Search Options" and follow these steps:
    • Click on the "Search for Student" tab
    • Select the grade you want and click on "Search"
    • Click on "Detail" to see email address information         
NOTE: In order to return to the entire grade list, do NOT hit the browser back button. Instead, click on the "Back to Search Student/Parent" button, found above the student name (at top left).
Absences and Tardy Notifications

We wish that none of our students ever felt ill -- we'd love to have 100% attendance every day -- but we know that germs don't always listen to our desires!

However, we do need to know where our students are.

If your child needs to miss a day of school,

or will be tardy or leave early, please be certain to inform Sharona Vedol in the Middle School office

by email:

Please note:

We will not be using the absence hotline this year!

All absence notifications must come in via email. 

We ask that you e-mail the office for safety reasons -- it allows for far more efficient accounting of student absences.

On behalf of the entire Middle School:

Shabbat Shalom!

Brian Cohen




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Maimonides School | 34 Philbrick Road | Brookline | MA | 02445