April 7, 2017                     Parashat Tzav                 11 Nisan, 5777 
In This Issue
D'var Torah
Rav Thoughts
Eighth-Grade D.C. Trip
New Date for Seventh-Grade Trip
Grade 8 ERB Tests
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,   

The eighth graders have returned from Washington, D.C. happy and healthy; the sixth and seventh graders have completed their ERBs; lockers have been cleaned out; and we're ready to enjoy Pesach with our families and friends!

Please read on for a d'var Torah, a thought from the works of Rav Soloveitchik, and some highlights from the week.

The next Middle School newsletter will be sent on April 28 (the week after Pesach).  We wish you all a chag kasher v'sameach, and look forward to seeing your children again on Thursday, April 20! 
Shabbat Shalom!  

Brian Cohen
Associate Principal, Middle School                    
D'var Torah

by Rabbi Dov Huff 

In the third perek of Sefer Hoshea, there is a very odd prophecy in which Hashem instructs Hoshea to contract an adulterous woman for 15 silver coins and barley. She symbolizes the unfaithfulness of Bnei Yisrael, and is to remain separated from Hoshea for "many days," as Bnei Yisrael had turned away from Hashem. Rashi takes the symbolism one step further, drawing parallels between the 15 coins and the fifteenth day of Nissan; between this barley and that of the 
Korban Omer of Pesach; between the "many days" and the 49 days leading up to Shavuot.  
What is the message here?  What is the significance of the barley, the "marriage," the contract, and how are they connected to the period stretching from Pesach to Shavuot?
Rabbi Reuven Brand, the Rosh Kollel of Torah Mitzion in Chicago, describes the transition from Pesach to Shavuot in the following way. He points out several differences between the Korban Omer on Pesach and the Shtei Halechem of Shavuot. The Korban Omer is brought of the lesser grain, barley, while the Shtei Halechem is brought from wheat. The Omer is brought as matzah - unleavened - while the Shtei Halechem is highly unusual in that it is brought as fully developed chametz. The theme of this period seems to be one of growth, fermentation, and development. But what are we developing into? Where are we coming from, and where are we going?
The Rav, in his eulogy for his uncle the GRIZ (Rav Yitzchak Zev Soloveitchik, also known as the Brisker Rav), given at Yeshiva University in 1959, spoke about the difference between the first stage of marriage (kiddushin) on the one hand and the final stage (nisuin) on the other. The Rav spoke about how kiddushin requires the formal consent of both parties. It is a legally binding contract, committing each party to the other. For this reason, a transaction is made with a ring. While the kiddushin establishes a contract, the nisuin creates a state of being, a reality. In the nisuin, the man and woman stand under the chuppah as they will stand together through life, in the house they will build as a unit. 
The Rav used this as a metaphor to describe his uncle's commitment to Torah. Most people feel the commitment, the responsibility, and the obligation to learn Torah. The GRIZ learned Torah as a way of life. He lived Torah. While most people are engaged to Torah, the Brisker Rav was married to it.
With this perspective, we can view the development from Pesach to Shavuot in a new light. On Pesach, we committed to Hashem. We made a binding contract over the Korban Pesach by which we entered into a covenantal relationship with our creator and became His nation.  We became engaged to Hashem, but this relationship was in its infancy. It was as undeveloped as the matzah of Pesach and the barley of the Omer - the contract of Hoshea without the union of marriage.
The next step was to build on this commitment and create a new reality, a marriage in which we bound ourselves eternally to our creator. This was Matan Torah. Hashem gave us the handbook on how to create this reality. At Matan Torah, our relationship deepened to a new, profound level which we celebrate on Shavuot. We bring the fully developed Shtei Halechem, made from the choice wheat. We stay up and learn Torah as an expression of this relationship as a way of life. We celebrate the moment in which Hashem suspended Har Sinai over us, as a couple stands under the chuppah, and we  expressed our "I do" with "Naaseh venishma."
As we begin Pesach, let us embrace this beginning stage of our growth, as we rise and develop in our relationship with Hashem.

Questions for the Shabbos table:
  1. What was your takeaway from the d'var Torah this morning?
  2. How does this idea change our perspective on chametz?
  3. From this perspective, how might we connect biur chametz to what we discussed about Sefer Vayikra last week?
Rav Thoughts
by Rabbi David Saltzman

וּפֶתַח אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד תֵּשְׁבוּ יוֹמָם וָלַיְלָה שִׁבְעַת יָמִים וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם אֶת מִשְׁמֶרֶת ה' וְלֹא תָמוּתוּ כִּי כֵן צֻוֵּיתִי:
And you shall stay day and night for seven days at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. You shall observe the Lord's command, so that you will not die, for thus I was commanded.
The Rav states that proper preparation is a necessary condition for any encounter with holiness. For example, in the prelude to giving the Torah, the people were cautioned not to go near their wives for three days. Similarly, in our parasha, Aaron had to submit to a seven-day preparation period prior to the dedication of the Mishkan, and every Kohen Gadol went through a similar sequestration prior to Yom Kippur. Both involved an encounter with holiness.
The same is true of Shabbat. One is not worthy of celebrating it unless one prepares for it. The Rambam states that it is a mitzvah to wash one's hands, face, and feet in hot water on Friday afternoon before Shabbat in order to honor Shabbat.
Holiness does not arrive suddenly; it only comes from the invitation inherent in the act of preparation.

Eighth-Grade Trip

Our 8th graders covered a lot of territory on their trip to Washington, D.C. this week! They visited the Capitol, met with elected officials, toured the monuments, checked out some museums, and chilled on the Mall.

Visiting the Washington Monument as night fell on Day 1 

Smithsonian Museum of Air and Space on Day 2:  
Admiring the Wright Flyer 
Getting ready to skate!

Riding on the United States Capitol Subway System

Senate Line for their Capitol tour with

Senator Elizabeth Warren's staff
Meeting Representative Joseph Kennedy 
on the Capitol steps

New Date for Seventh-Grade Trip

The seventh-grade trip to Boston, sadly rained out this week, has been rescheduled to Thursday, April 27!

To sign the revised permission slip, please go to this document!



Grade 8 ERB Tests on April 26 and 27

by Scott Mattoon

Grade 8 ERBs will be taking place on April 26 and 27, the week after our return from Pesach vacation.

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 class this year is all 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 Dana Bar-Or, the eighth-grade dean.

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
Invitations for Yom Orchim (Visitors' Day) - which will take place on Friday, May 19th - have been sent out, and 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, epulda@maimonides.org 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 jerusalem50.org 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: 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 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, and Chag Kasher V'Sameach!


Brian Cohen



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