March 31, 2017                     Parashat Vayikra                 5 Nisan, 5777 
In This Issue
D'var Torah
Rav Thoughts
Grades 6 and 7 ERB Tests
Science Fair
Seventh-Grade Chumash
Eighth-Grade Navi
PTA Spring Hat Show
Alumni Newsletter
Middle School Lit Mag
Yom Orchim
Help Write a Torah
Absence Notifications
Division Newsletters
Online Photo Galleries

Quick Links
Find Maimonides On:

Dear Middle School Families,   

What a week it's been in the Maimonides community! The Science Fair, a visit by members of the Israeli Knesset, preparation for the eighth-grade Washington trip, preparation for the seventh-grade Boston field trip, and introducing the sixth- and seventh-grade ERBs all made for a very busy time! We're looking forward to sharing the results of all our preparation.

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 

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?
Rav Thoughts
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. 
Grades 6 and 7 ERB Tests

Grade 6 ERBs will be given over the course of next week.

Grade 7 ERBs will be on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings.

Please know that there is nothing the students need to do to prepare specifically for these tests, except for bringing two #2 pencils and a calculator with them.  What they have been studying in classes this year is already the preparation they need. 

Also, we do not use these tests as primary evaluation tools for individual students and placements in courses, nor do their test scores factor into their grades or transcripts.

These tests do offer one measure of their learning that can be helpful to them, to you, and the school.  So, in order to move on to the next grade, we ask that they perform their best on these tests.  

If they miss any portion of these tests, they will need to make them up at a later date and time that is pre-designated. Naturally, standard expectations for behavior, conduct, and dress in school are in force during these testing sessions. 

They will take tests on English topics. They will take tests on math topics. They will have opportunities for brief breaks during the testing administrations as determined by their proctors.  They will also have an opportunity to take bathroom breaks one at a time as determined by their proctors.

For each test day, the students should be extra careful to get a good night's sleep and a good breakfast after davening -- and they should bring a snack and water for break time during testing.  If you have any questions about the ERB's, please ask your child's grade dean.

Science Fair

The Science Fair was a rousing success, with the students studying their subjects in depth and sharing their findings with curious friends and relatives. It was an amazing opportunity for them to delve deeper into their interests and find ways to express what they've learned. Kol hakavod!

Thank you to the many parents who were able to join us for this event.  The students greatly enjoyed sharing their projects with you.


Seventh-Grade Chumash

The seventh-grade Chumash students are engaged in a group work project (with points!) about the story of the nachash nechoshet (copper snake) in Bamidbar 21.  They have learned the psukim (verses) and Rashi, and are delving into more mefarshim (commentaries) about this unusual story.  They will also learn about the fate of the nachash nechoshet by studying about King Chizkiyahu in Melachim Bet!

Eighth-Grade Navi

The eighth-grade students took a break from their Science Fair work and D.C. trip planning to build their model Batei Mikdash with Rabbi Saadia and Rabbi Strauss. They heard from senior Baruch-Lev Kelman, who shared the results of his research on this topic, and developed their own visions of what the third Beit HaMikdash may look like. We were impressed with their ingenuity, hard work, and creativity in both construction and materials!

PTA Spring Hat Show Sunday

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  


Lit Mag Submissions Are Open!
Your Magazine, our Middle School showcase of students' artwork and writing, is 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