Upper School Weekly Update

March 31st, 2017  -  Vayikra
In This Issue
D'var Torah
Thoughts of the Rav
Senior AIPAC Trip
Alumni Newsletter
Help Write a Torah
Division Newsletters
Next Week

Sunday, April 2
JV Baseball 3rd tryout (3:00-6:00)

Monday, April 3

No changes

Tuesday, April 4
3:00 Dismissal
Faculty Meeting

Wednesday, April 5

No changes

Thursday, April 6

Senior dress-up day

Friday, April 7

Last day before Pesach break 

In Three Weeks 

Having a


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D'var Torah 

by Rabbi Dov Huff

In the past we have spoken about the Kabbalistic idea that Hashem, the infinite G-d, in order to create space for a finite and physical world, had to do a tzimtzum - a retraction.- Hashem pulled back on the kodesh to make room for the chol. Our job is to do the inverse, to carve out pockets of
chol to allow the kodesh to flow in.
At the end of Shemot we learn how to do this in space, with the mishkan, and in time, with Shabbos. There is a third area in which we need to build a sanctuary, and it is perhaps the most difficult one. It is within ourselves. And this is the learning objective of Sefer Vayikra. It is most explicitly laid out in Parshat Kedoshim, but really the entire sefer is about kedusha and tahara. From the way we recover from our mistakes with korbanot, to the food we put in our body, Sefer Vayikra is the instruction manual to creating internal, personal kedusha
The sefer begins with the word "va'yikra" written with a small letter aleph. The Kli Yakar says that aleph represents learning and teaching (from the phrase v'a'alephcha chochma - I will teach you wisdom (Job 33:33)). He says the message of the small aleph is that learning only lasts in one who is maktin at atzmo - minimizes himself. What does this mean? A year ago I heard a talk by a Chabad rabbi who had the job, when the Lubavitcher Rebbe was alive, of memorizing his three-hour drashot that were given on Shabbos so that they could be written down later. He spoke about how this was a difficult task, and he shared the key to accomplishing it. He said that when we hear people speak, we process what we hear. We analyze, critique, and evaluate. All this processing takes up bandwidth. The way to remember the three-hour lectures was to stop judging and listen. To open oneself up and submit to the lecture. 
I think this is the point the Kli Yakar is making as well. We must let the Torah we are learning enter our minds and hearts in its pristine form. We must open ourselves up to being inspired and transformed. Our mission is to initially get ourselves out of the way, and then, of course, to analyze and challenge. But if we reverse the order, then by the time the Torah makes it through the layers and filters of our own beliefs and biases, it is changed. We have dragged it through the gauntlet of our own experiences, zigzagging it through the prism of our own personal narrative. 
So the message of the little aleph is to do internally what Hashem did in the creation of the world. In order to truly internalize the lessons of Sefer Vayikra, to create kedusha inside each and every one of us, we must do an internal tzimtzum - we must carve out pockets in our hearts and minds into which kedusha, Torah, and connection with Hashem can flow. Torah is beautiful, tefillah is powerful, and our teachers and parents are inspirational. It is up to us to make sure that we are listening. 

Questions for the Shabbos table:
  1. What was your takeaway from the d'var Torah this morning?
  2. How can we become better listeners in other aspects of our lives?
  3. How do the korbanot help us to build internal kedusha?
Thoughts of the Rav 

by Rabbi Dov Huff

"When a man from among you offers a sacrifice to Hashem..."
The Rav writes that this second pasuk in our parsha captures a central idea in Judaism: The act of sacrifice, the idea that man recognizes that all we have in fact belongs to Hashem. Man must offer everything to his Creator. How? By retreating and limiting ourselves in all aspects of our lives. 
Senior AIPAC Trip and AIPAC Week

Our senior class had an action-packed three days at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. Whether they were attending the fascinating sessions that they chose, engaging in conversations with a Knesset minister, singing and dancing through the streets of D.C., or lobbying our congressmen on Capitol Hill, their energy was palpable and infectious. 

Highlights at the conference included a private session with Naftali Bennett, Israel's Minister of Education and leader of the Jewish Home party...

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A special shout-out from Jone Dalezman, AIPAC volunteer and parent of alumni, who was a featured speaker at an 18,000-member General Session...

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And meetings on Capitol Hill with Senator Edward J. Markey and Congressman Joe Kennedy III to advocate for Israel.

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After returning home, the seniors gathered at the school on Wednesday for a workshop to share reflections, discuss issues, and ask questions so that they can be effective advocates for Israel. A highlight was a special presentation by Barry Shrage, president of Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP).

On Thursday, we had the honor of hosting the Ruderman Knesset Mission and showing off our school to Members of Knesset Amir Ohana, Mickey Levy, Rachel Azaria, and Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin. Our seniors then had the privilege of engaging with the Knesset members in discussions that were open, candid, and fascinating for everyone.

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Our seniors have learned so much and are well-prepared for their future as proud, articulate, and confident advocates for Israel, cognizant of the critical role that each of us can, and must, play to ensure that our brothers and sisters in Israel continue to receive our unwavering support.

Alumni Newsletter Online

The monthly alumni newsletter for March is now online, and can be found here.  This issue's articles include:
  • Designer's Invitations, Centerpieces Reflect Her Clients' Personalities
  • Graduate to Be Guest Conductor of Philharmonic Orchestra in China
  • Television Commercial Director Says "Business Is What I Left Behind to Do What I'm Doing Now"
  • Alumni and Families Share Their Impressions of Purim 5777
If you would like to receive the alumni newsletter each month, contact Mike Rosenberg at (617) 232-4452 x 405 or mrosenberg@maimonides.org.  
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 jerusalem50.org for more information, or go directly to our block here.

See What's Happening in 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 
for the Elementary and Middle Schools, or click here for the Early Childhood Center.

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

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