Maimonides Upper School

Upper School Weekly Update: December 2, 2016     
In This Issue
D'var Torah
Rav Thoughts
College Admissions
Basketball Tournament
Collecting Donations
2016-17 Calendars
Parent Handbook
Maimo on Instagram
Vehicle Policies
Directory Online
Division Newsletters
Next Week
Sunday, December 4 
Yom Chesed 
SAT Tests 
JV Basketball Tryouts

(Girls 1:30-3:00, Boys 7:30-9:00)
Monday, December 5
No changes

Tuesday, December 6 
3:00 Dismissal

JV Basketball Tryouts

(Boys 3:15-4:30, Girls 4:30-6:00)

Wednesday, December 7

No changes

Thursday, December 8

No changes

Friday, December 9

No changes

Saturday, December 10

7:30 Chanukah Banquet
In Two Weeks 

Having a


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D'var Torah 

by Rabbi Dov Huff

Many questions emerge from the story of Yaakov and Esav and their battle for the bracha. Didn't Yitzchak and Rivka already know Yaakov would get the bracha, from the prophecy of "ve'rav yaavod tzair" - the elder would serve the younger? Did only Rivka know? Why would she not say anything? Why did Yitzchak prefer Esav? Did he not realize what he was? Did Yitzchak Avinu really think that Am Yisrael was supposed to come from the ish sadeh rather than the ish tam yoshev ohalim - the Talmid Chacham? And does this mean that we have our status, our great responsibility as the descendants of Yaakov, because of a trick? Did we receive the Torah and become the am hanivchar based on a deception?
It is interesting to look at the Mefarshim and see how they address these questions along the course of the narrative. Their varying positions point to different understandings of what really happened. So much so that it seems that if our Rebbe in grade school had been the Ramban, for example, the story we would have walked away with would have been quite different than the one we would have learned from the Ibn Ezra or Rashi. Let us follow the thread through the eyes of the Radak and fill in some blanks to understand what seems to be happening from his perspective. 
According to the Radak, despite the simple meaning of the text, Yitzchak knew what Esav was and what Yaakov was meant to be. The Torah is not saying that Yitzchak loved Esav more, but that he loved him also (Radak 25:28). It was not Yitzchak who was mistaken, but Rivka, because Yitzchak knew that there were actually two brachot to be given - one which would be contested and one which would not. The latter is the bracha of the brit of Avraham - the responsibility of carrying the torch of Avraham, fathering the nation of Am Yisrael, receiving the Torah, inheriting Eretz Yisrael, and being the am hanivchar. To borrow the terminology of Rabbi Leibtag, this was the bracha of bechira - always intended for Yaakov Avinu, the ish tam
The contested bracha, the one he wished to give Esav, was a bracha fitting for the ish sadeh - a different bracha altogether. It is a bracha of wealth and economic success, of power and prominence. This is not the bracha of bechira but of bechora - the double portion granted to the eldest son. And if we look at the bracha intended for Esav, this is precisely what it is about: "Hashem will give you the dew of the heavens and fat of the land. Nations will serve and bow to you." 
According to the Radak, Rivka was the one mistaken, not realizing that Yaakov would receive all he needed with his bracha of bechira, so she set up the deception (Radak 27:4). 
In light of this, we can suggest that this is, in fact, what Yitzchak means when Esav comes in, the deception is realized, and Yitzchak says "gam baruch yehiye" - he (Yaakov) will also be blessed. Also blessed, but not necessarily with the same blessing. And Yitzchak is still able to give Esav a bracha about financial success, because such a bracha is not limited to one. 
Following this line of thought of the Radak, we can better understand the end of the parsha. Before Yaakov Avinu flees, he is given yet another bracha by his father Yitzchak. Notice how different this bracha is from the previous one: "Hashem will bless you and make you a nation, and He will give you the bracha of Avraham to you and your offspring, with you to inherit the land in which you live, which Hashem gave to Avraham."
In this final goodbye to his son, Yitzchak does what he had intended to do all along: Impart to his yoshev ohalim the responsibility to build a nation of ovdei Hashem who, in the zechut of Avraham Avinu, would inherit the land of Eretz Yisrael and be a beacon of ethical monotheism to all the nations. 
Questions for the Shabbos table:
  1. What was your takeaway from the d'var Torah this morning?
  2. In terms of the questions we raised in the beginning, what advantages does this version of the story have? What disadvantages?
  3. Which bracha, bechira or bechora, did Yaakov purchase from Esav? Are they both for sale?
  4. Trace the story through the lens of another Rishon. How do they see it differently?
Thoughts of the Rav
by Rabbi David Saltzman 
The Rav explains, in Worship of the Heart, that prayer is a dialogical medium by which we can communicate with G-d. It is a conversation between finitude and infinity, with G-d being the listener and man being the speaker. As opposed to some other contemporary conceptions of prayer, Judaism considers this "selfish" petitionary prayer as the central theme of the service.
Looking at the beginning of the parasha this week, we see that Yitzchak prayed to G-d and implored Him to grant him offspring. We incorporate this aspect of tefilla in the middle part of the weekday Amidah, which contains 13 of the 16 berachot which are totally devoted to thoughtful petition. The reason for this centrality lies in our philosophy that prayer is avoda she-be-lev - namely, the feeling of unqualified dependence.
Therefore, the understanding of Jewish prayer must give a place of prominence to the idea and to the experience of petition.
A Message from Our College Counselor
Parents are invited to join us on Tuesday evening, December 15 at 7:00 p.m. for a presentation on "College Admissions Testing: A Roadmap for the SAT, ACT, and Other Tests," presented by Drew Heilpern of Summit Educational Group. 

In this seminar, we will explain the role of standardized tests in the college admissions process. We will discuss the differences between the SAT and ACT to help students and families better understand these tests' design.  Lastly, we will examine sample problems from the two tests to highlight the differences between them so that students can make a more informed decision when deciding between the SAT and ACT.  With the first administration of the redesigned SAT last spring, and an increasing number of students taking the ACT, families have expressed many questions about the current state of standardized testing. 

The goals of this presentation are to take away some of the anxiety that surrounds these tests, and to give families information to help guide their students through their own unique testing plans: Which test, when to take them, and how and when to prepare for them.
Invitational Basketball Tournament

The excitement is building for the annual Maimonides Invitational Basketball Tournament and Shabbaton, which is scheduled for Thursday-Sunday, December 15-18.

Participating boys' and girls' teams will be from Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy in Kansas, Melvin Berman Hebrew Academy in Maryland, and Rambam Mesivta and Yeshiva of Flatbush in New York. Games will take place in Fox Gymnasium and around the corner at Brookline High School's Schluntz Gym.

Organizers are recruiting volunteers for a variety of roles and responsibilities. Anyone interested in volunteering may contact Ahron Solomont at (914) 548-0365 or

Help Those in Need with These Vital Donations!

In conjunction with Yom Chesed, we are collecting items for two local organizations that provide essential items for local families.

Full size toothpaste and deodorant are needed for Hope and Cure, a Newton-based organization that provides hygiene products for adults and children in need.

Family Table, the area's only kosher food pantry, is an organization that Maimonides supports throughout the year with donations of whole wheat crackers and canned salmon.

Collection boxes are located in the Brener (outside the Elementary School office) and Saval (outside the Upper School office) buildings. Your donations will be greatly appreciated!

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

Follow Maimo on Instagram

expanding our social media network! Please follow us on Instagram at @Maimobrookline. 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. 

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.
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).

See What's Happening in the Other Divisions

Lots of wonderful things are happening at Maimonides School!

If you'd like to take a peek at the other divisions' newsletters, please click here.

If you would like to contact a specific school office, please use these emails:

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