March 10, 2017                          Parashat Tetzaveh                     12 Adar, 5777 
In This Issue
D'var Torah
Thoughts of the Rav
Parent-Teacher Conferences
RSVP for DC Trip!
Step Up to Upper School
Purim Gifts for Custodians
New Lunch Option
Middle School Lit Mag
Yom Orchim
Help Write a Torah
Absence Notifications
Division Newsletters
Online Photo Galleries

Quick Links
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Dear Middle School Families,   

It's been another busy week in the Middle School, and plans are underway for Monday's Purim carnival! Please note that the students should wear regular clothing to school; there will be time to change into their costumes before the carnival.

Please read on for a d'var Torah, 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


The confluence of the readings of Megillat Esther and the
parshiyot detailing the construction of the Mishkan may have more to it than simply their relative positions in the Jewish calendar. If we look closely at the Megillah, there are a number of parallels to the Beit Hamikdash, which perhaps can give us insight into a major theme of Purim. 
There is a general dispute between academics and our mesorah as to which of the Persian kings Achashverosh was, and by extension, the exact time period in which this historical account took place. What we do know is that it happened after the Cyrus Decree. In the first year of the first Persian Empire, Koresh (or Cyrus) declared that the Jews could return to Yerushalayim. This was a fulfillment of the prophecy of Yirmiyahu, that after 70 years of exile the Jews would have the opportunity for redemption. The question was, would they take advantage of it? 
In the narrative of the Megillah we see a few subtle mikdash references which Rav Menachem Leibtag understands as criticism of the Jews at the time. They have been allowed to return to their ancestral homeland, the land promised to the Jewish people, from which they were torn away. At long last the opportunity presents itself, the redemption has arrived, and yet we still find the Jewish community in exile. But this exile is self-imposed. It is by choice. Rav Leibtag reads this in the introduction to Mordechai:
Ish Yehudi haya b'shushan - the Jews were still in Shushan despite the call of redemption!
habirah - the capital. But not the other place referred to as habirah - the Beit Hamikdash.
ushmo Mordechai!- See how assimilated they were. Even the great Mordechai was given the name of a Babylonian deity!
There is a rebuke in this story, the call of the king for his bride who refuses to come - not only by Achashverosh for Vashti, but, lehavdil, the King of all Kings for his people. But the Jews of Persia have ignored the call. They have replaced Yerushalayim with Shushan. They have heeded the call of the Persian king to his party rather than the call of their King to the promised land. In this we can understand Chazal's message that the "keilim mikeilim shonim" - the unique vessels used at Achashverosh's party - were those of the Beit Hamikdash. Look at the assimilation! Look at the disregard for what was once precious! Look at the indifference towards that which once meant everything. 
But the failure of the Jews 70 years after the exile is remedied in the Purim story. Haman's letter to destroy the Jews is sent on the 13th of Nissan. Exactly 70 days later, the letter from Mordechai and Esther, the letter of redemption, is sent on the 23rd of Sivan. It takes another close call to remind us of the geulah. The message of the Megillah is that although there is often hester panim, where Hashem drives history from behind the scenes, we must always remember who we are and where we belong. And this message is so critical to Jews in exile that Mordechai and Esther make sure that we are reminded of it every year.
In this sense, the message of Purim is to never be indifferent. To never be complacent. To always yearn and strive for the redemption. To heed the call of our G-d, our land, and our mission, and to never take the keilim shonim which G-d has given us for granted. 
Questions for the Shabbos table:
1. What was your takeaway from the d'var Torah this morning?
2. The Gemara in Megillah says that Achashverosh's party was in celebration of the fact that (he thought) the 70 years of Yirmiyahu had expired and the Jews had not been redeemed. How might this support Rabbi Leibtag's idea?
3. What in our lives might we take for granted because we are so entrenched in the contexts in which we find ourselves? 
4. How can we continue to be metzapeh l'yeshua - to look to and yearn for our salvation?
Thoughts of the Rav
by Rabbi David Saltzman

In Days of Deliverance, the Rav explains that to lead a courageous life means to lead a sacrificial life. Sacrifice means that one is ready to leave the stage of history after playing the part assigned to him or her and vanish into oblivion.
This is what G-d requires of man - anonymity and humility. G-d hates glamour, fame, and external glitter. He loves the actor who appears on stage for a short while, plays his or her part humbly, and disappears immediately without receiving applause. Man stands in the limelight as long as he is the Messiah, the anointed one, consecrated to the covenantal community. The moment he is done, he disappears from sight.
What does the Megillah tell us about Esther and Mordechai before and after the Haman episode? Nothing! The Megillah refers us to the history books of Media and Persia. Only the activities during this short period of time are memorialized, and the rest is enveloped in mystery. We learn the message of humility from the Megillah itself.

Parent-Teacher Conferences

We're looking forward to next week's Parent-Teacher Conferences!  They will be taking place:
  • Tuesday, March 14 - noon dismissal; conferences 2:00 - 8:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, March 15 - no school; ES/MS conferences 11:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m., ECC conferences 2:00 - 8:00 p.m.

If you would like to change your appointment times, please contact the Middle School office. 

Eighth-Grade Trip to D.C. - Please RSVP!

This year's eighth-grade trip to Washington, DC, is only a month away! The trip will be taking place April 3 - April 6 and will include lots of exciting activities, including some that are brand new for this year and some old favorites from previous years.

If you're an eighth-grade parent, please check your email for more details, and make sure to send the RSVP form to the Middle School office by next Friday, March 17! 

Step Up to Upper School for Eighth-Grade Parents!
Please join the Upper School leadership on Tuesday, March 21, from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. in the Levy Library on Saval Campus for an interactive and information-filled evening with the dynamic Academic, Student Life and Social Work teams who will be guiding and engaging your children for the next four years.  Dairy dessert will be served.

If you haven't yet responded, please reply via the electronic invitation you received or email Erin O'Brien at

Purim Gifts for Custodians

We have been overwhelmed by the wonderful gifts that have been contributed for our hardworking custodial staff! The literally overflowing bin of gifts has been proving to everyone who comes into the office how much we value our hardworking custodians.


The students will be working hard to make beautiful individualized Purim baskets that we are sure will be much appreciated, both for the sentiment and for the treats included. 
Tizku l'mitzvot!

New Lunch Option!

The eighth grade is proud to announce that it will soon be offering lunches from Jerusalem Pita and Grill every week! The order form will be coming home next week, so keep your eyes open for it!  

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.

Getting Ready for Yom Orchim
As we prepare to send out invitations for Yom Orchim (Visitors' Day) - which will take place on Friday, May 19th - we want to be sure your loved ones receive all the details so they can mark it on their calendars. If you have not yet provided us with contact information for your child's grandparents or special visitors (or if you have any questions), please contact Ellen Pulda, or at 617-232-4452 x423.

Help Write a Torah
As you may have heard, there is a beautiful and inspiring initiative underway, a joint initiative of The Afikim Foundation and Israel's Ministry for Diaspora Affairs, to write a Global Unity Sefer Torah celebrating the 50th Anniversary of a Reunited Jerusalem. Jews everywhere can inscribe letters in the Torah, NOT with money, but with simple acts of chesed, everyday kindnesses that positively impact the lives of others. To see more information about this global initiative, please watch this 1-minute video!
Since groups may reserve blocks of letters, we've taken the opportunity to reserve 1000 letters for our Maimonides family.  Let's complete the Maimonides block in the Global Unity Torah and inspire goodness in the world in honor of Jerusalem! The custom link for our school's block can be accessed by clicking here. You may reserve letters for yourself and/or your entire family as a group. (All blue letters are available.) It only takes a minute. 
A digital file containing the names of everyone who participated and their acts of chesed will remain permanently with the Torah, which will be dedicated in Jerusalem on May 24, Yom Yerushalayim.  (There will also be a drawing for 3 round-trip tickets to attend the dedication!) 
Please challenge yourself to commit and record at least 3 acts of kindness by May 24 - actions that are manageable and within your reach. There is no chesed too small!  
Visit for more information, or go directly to our block here.

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 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 for the Elementary and Upper Schools, or click here for the Early Childhood Center.

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