January 20, 2017                    Parashat Shemot                   22 Tevet, 5777 
In This Issue
D'var Torah
Thoughts of the Rav
Sixth-Grade Trip
Seventh-Grade History
Eighth Grade Visits Model UN
Middle School Lit Mag
Absence Notifications
Absence Notifications
Online Photo Galleries

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Dear Middle School Families,   

We hope your children enjoyed their day off on Monday!

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
When we think about the moment of the burning bush from Moshe Rabbeinu's perspective, it is hard to even imagine the thoughts and emotions going through his head as he, a young wandering shepherd, chances upon this unnatural spectacle, defying the very laws of nature. There the Divine Creator reveals himself to Moshe, charges him with the seemingly impossible task of saving an enslaved people, and enables him to perform supernatural miracles of his own. In this earth-shattering moment Moshe Rabbeinu does not run to Mitzrayim to fulfill his divine mission. Instead, he asks permission from his father-in-law. 
The Midrash tells us that Moshe Rabbeinu felt indebted to his father-in-law, Yitro, who had welcomed in the Egyptian outcast and given him a home and family. How could Moshe run off without asking Yitro first? This is called hakarat hatov. It is called derech eretz. This is not only a statement about how we treat each other, but also a statement of priorities. Before Moshe Rabbeinu went to bring Bnei Yisrael to Matan Torah at Har Sinai, he showed derech eretz to his father-in-law. This gesture echoes the ethic of Chazal: "derech eretz kadmah leTorah" - the way we treat people takes priority over Torah.
At the beginning of Sefer Breishit the Netziv writes a beautiful introduction. He tells us that another name for Sefer Breishit is Sefer HaYashar. Here yashar means to be good, to be kind and honest, to care about other people. These lessons, says the Netziv, are lessons we learn from the role modelling of the Avot and Imahot and their care and compassion for everyone. He contrasts their yashrut to the Jews in the time of the second temple, who he says were learned but not just. They were talmidei chachamim but not yesharim. This disconnect resulted in the destruction of bayit sheini
We find ourselves in the transition between Sefer Breishit and Sefer Shmot, between the Sefer HaYashar and the sefer of Matan Torah. We can suggest that Sefer Breishit precedes Sefer Shmot not just chronologically but thematically. Before we receive the Torah we must make sure we are yashar, because all the Torah we learn is for nothing if we fail to treat everyone with dignity and care. We, like Moshe Rabbeinu, must prioritize derech eretz at all times. 
Questions for the Shabbos table:
  1. What was your takeaway from the d'var Torah this morning?
  2. Do you think that being yashar and being a talmid chacham are really different things?
  3. What gestures of derech eretz could you be more careful about?
Thoughts of the Rav

by Rabbi David Saltzman

Rabbi Soloveitchik writes that while Moshe was gazing upon the burning bush, he made two observations. One was that the bush was indestructible. It was אֵינֶנּוּ אֻכָּל - not being consumed. The second miracle was that the fire didn't spread.
The Rav translates מַדּוּעַ לֹא יִבְעַר הַסְּנֶה as: Why did the bush not catch fire? There was a fire in the middle, but the exterior did not catch fire at all!!
He answers that there were two messages for Moshe from this miraculous mareh. The first was to teach Moshe that the covenantal community is indestructible. No matter how difficult circumstances are, and no matter how great the suffering, the covenantal community will never terminate.
The second miracle was that the external personality of a Jew, and even their deeds, are not indicative. Sometimes there is a conflict between the external personality and the inner personality. In spite of the cold, thorny, and scratchy demeanor on the outside, deep down in the center of the heart there is warmth, sensitivity, and love.
For these reasons, a Jew should never be expelled or considered lost to the community.

Sixth-Grade Field Trip

Next Tuesday the sixth graders will be enjoying the annual sixth-grade trip to the Christa McAuliffe Center at Framingham State University. This is always a highlight of sixth-grade science. The students love taking on the roles of NASA engineers and mission specialists, and sending their friends to Mars!

If you haven't yet sent in a permission slip for this trip, please fill it out here!

Seventh-Grade History
by Hal Borkow

The seventh-grade history classes are focusing on four primary sources from the presidency of Abraham Lincoln: the First Inaugural Address, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Gettysburg Address, and the Second Inaugural Address. We're thinking about Lincoln's purpose behind each speech or proclamation, and how that purpose matters in today's world.

We're also watching selected scenes from the 2012 movie Lincoln and considering how those scenes connect to the actual historical events.

Eighth Graders Experiencing Upper-School Life

The eighth graders began experiencing Upper School extra-curricular activities this week! The students visited the Upper School Activities Fair earlier this year to decide which activities they might be interested in. A couple of weeks ago they were asked to narrow it down to their top two choices. Over the next several weeks, Upper School clubs will be inviting interested eighth-graders to visit, and showing them what's involved in being a member of each club.

On Tuesday, the Model United Nations club invited several eighth-graders to see what Model U.N. is all about. The students learned a lot, and are excited to be part of the club next year and join in the fun!

Lit Mag Submissions Now Open!
Your Magazine, our Middle School showcase of students' artwork and writing, is now accepting submissions for its annual publication! Please encourage your child to submit his or her favorite creative work to the Middle School office.

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: svedol@maimonides.org

Please remember:

We are not 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.

Division Newsletters

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:

On behalf of the entire Middle School:

Shabbat Shalom!


Brian Cohen



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