January 12, 2018 - 25 Tevet 5778 - Vaera
ES Highlights
D'var Torah
Thoughts of the Rav
Pinat HaParasha
Rosh Chodesh Pizza
Screen Time
Bracha Bee
Family Learning
Next Principals' Coffees
Cold Weather Reminder
PTA Hat Show
Lost and Found
Social Time!
ECC/MS/US Newsletters
ES Calendar
Monday, Jan. 15
Professional Development Day
Wednesday, Jan. 17
Grade 1 Principals' Coffee 8:00-8:45 a.m.
Sunday, Jan. 21
Family Learning
Wednesday, Jan. 24
Grade 2 Principals' Coffee 8:00-8:45 a.m.
Winter Concert 
4:00 p.m.
Tuesday, Jan. 30
3:00 p.m. Dismissal
Wednesday, Jan. 31
Grade 3 Principals' Coffee 8:00-8:45 a.m. 
As always, please see the Kol Rambam Weekly for the all-school calendar, events and PTA notes.
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Dear Parents,

We had a great week at school!
Please read on for the latest Elementary School news and information about upcoming events. 
D'var Torah
by Rabbi David Saltzman
In the parasha this week the first seven makkot strike the Egyptians. Oddly enough, the first three are performed by Aharon and not Moshe. As the verse states regarding the plague of blood:
וַיֹּאמֶר ה' אֶל־מֹשֶׁה אֱמֹר אֶל־אַהֲרֹן קַח מַטְּךָ וּנְטֵה־יָדְךָ עַל־מֵימֵי מִצְרַיִם עַל־נַהֲרֹתָם עַל־יְאֹרֵיהֶם וְעַל־אַגְמֵיהֶם וְעַל כָּל־מִקְוֵה מֵימֵיהֶם וְיִהְיוּ־דָם וְהָיָה דָם בְּכָל־אֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם וּבָעֵצִים וּבָאֲבָנִים׃
And Hashem said to Moshe, "Say to Aharon: Take your rod and hold out your arm over the waters of Egypt-its rivers, its canals, its ponds, all its bodies of water-that they may turn to blood; there shall be blood throughout the land of Egypt, even in vessels of wood and stone."
The procedure was similar for frogs and lice, as Hashem instructs Moshe to command Aharon to bring this first set of plagues. G-d did say earlier that Aharon would be Moshe's spokesman, but He didn't mention that he would be his makkah man. Why wasn't Moshe able to bring these first three plagues?
Rashi explains that Moshe was unable to cause the makkah of blood and frogs because:
אמר אל אהרן. לְפִי שֶׁהֵגִין הַיְאוֹר עַל מֹשֶׁה כְּשֶׁנִּשְׁלַךְ לְתוֹכוֹ, לְפִיכָךְ לֹא לָקָה עַל יָדוֹ לֹא בַדָּם וְלֹא בַצְפַרְדְּעִים, וְלָקָה עַל יְדֵי אַהֲרֹן (שמות רבה):          
SAY UNTO AHARON - Because the river had protected Moses when he was cast into it, therefore it was not smitten by him neither at the plague of blood nor at that of frogs, but it was smitten by Aharon ( Exodus Rabbah 9:10)
And similarly it would have been inappropriate for Moshe to bring the plague of lice because:
אמר אל אהרן. לֹא הָיָה הֶעָפָר כְּדַאי לִלְקוֹת עַ"יְ מֹשֶׁה, לְפִי שֶׁהֵגִין עָלָיו כְּשֶׁהָרַג אֶת הַמִּצְרִי וַיִּטְמְנֵהוּ בַּחוֹל, וְלָקָה עַל יְדֵי אַהֲרֹן (שמות רבה):
SAY UNTO AHARON - The dust did not deserve to be smitten by Moses because it had protected him when he slew the Egyptian, for "he hid him in the sand"; and it was therefore smitten by Aharon (Tanchuma; Exodus Rabbah 10:7).
Rashi says that since the water and sand protected Moshe, he was unable to hit those things. Moshe had to show his appreciation, gratitude, and hakarat hatov even to inanimate objects which served and protected him during his life.
Perhaps on another level, these items represent Moshe's entry into and departure from Egypt. Through the water, in a basket, Moshe was saved by Pharaoh's daughter. About 20 years later, after burying the Egyptian in the sand, Moshe fled Egypt. The water saved Moshe upon his arrival, and the sand saved him as he was leaving. The water and the sand represented Moshe's time spent in Egypt, where his life was saved. In order to demonstrate hakarat hatov to the country and the people of Egypt, Moshe was not allowed to bring the first three makkot and be the harbinger of all the plagues and destruction to follow.
Click here to save or print the D'var Torah
Thoughts of the Rav
by Rabbi David Saltzman     
The Rav explains the difference between
                                                   וַיֶּחֱזַק לֵב פַּרְעֹה
and the heart of Pharaoh was hardened
וַיַּכְבֵּד לִבּוֹ
and he made heavy his heart.
These are not synonyms, but represent two different ideas.
Let's focus on כבד. The word כבד is associated with a stone. It weighs a lot, but it's useless. It does not have any practical purpose. Here, it means "a heart of stone." Therefore, כבד לב פרעה means that he had an insensitive heart. It was a heart which was not responsive to the call of conscience, or to a divine moral challenge.
The Rishonim speak about certain times when a person loses their ability to repent because they forfeit their moral sensitivity. If there is no moral sensitivity, there is no ability to choose between a good course of action and a bad course of action. Someone with a heart of stone, therefore, has lost their bechira - their free choice.
This is what happened to Pharaoh when he resisted the moral challenge with which he was presented, and desensitized himself to the suffering of the Jewish slaves.
Pinat HaParasha
Please click here  to view the  Pinat  HaParasha for Parshat Vaera. You are encouraged to print the document and use it as a source for discussion at the Shabbat table.
Rosh Chodesh Pizza
On  Wednesday, January 17, to honor  Rosh Chodesh, a  pizza lunch will be provided by the PTA for those who ordered in advance. 

Screen Time for Students
At the Kindergarten Principals' Coffee this past Wednesday, questions were raised about the amount of time students are required to use computers or other devices for skill practice at home.  We know that many parents try to limit screen time for their children and would like better guidelines or alternative means for students to practice their skills.  
We have compiled the chart below with our recommendations and requirements for each grade.  If your child does not do well with these programs and you would like alternative ways for them to work on their skills, please let the teachers know and they will be glad to make other suggestions and/or supply other materials.

Reflex Math
KeyboardingWithout Tears
or Typing Club
Ariot Cal or iTalAm
Dah Ber
20 minutes a week; possibly more for specific students.
2x week
15 Minutes
Recommended 15 minutes a week;
possibly more for specific students
Recommended 15 minutes a week
1 x week
15 minutes or more
Recommended 2x week
10-15 minutes;
possibly more for specific students
2x week
10-15 minutes
As assigned by teacher
Recommended for specific students
Required 3x week
15 minutes
between school & home
Required 2x week
15 minutes
 As assigned by teacher
Optional & Occasional
Recommended for specific students
3x week
15 minutes until completed  
Typing Club: Optional up to
3x week 15 minutes
As assigned by Teacher
Recommended for specific students
3-4x week
15-20 minutes until completed
As assigned by Teacher

Bracha Bee
This year we have been concentrating on learning how to show הכרת הטוב to Hashem. One way of showing hakarat hatov is through reciting ברכות. In keeping with that theme, we will have a school-wide Bracha Bee for grades 2-3 and 4-5.
This week, students in grades 2 - 5 began to learn about brachot. Students will continue to learn about this important topic from now until February vacation.
Students received lists of brachot to study, which will also be reviewed in class. Students should study the lists at home through January 29 . Click on the links below to download the packets:
The qualifying round will be on Monday, February 5, when all students will answer questions about ברכות on a Google form containing about 30 - 40 items and will need to identify the appropriate ברכה. There will also be some questions where they will need to fill in the missing words of ברכות. The top five scorers from each grade will move on to the school-wide Bracha Bee, which will take place before February vacation.
Here are some studying tips for the students:
1. Pace yourself over the next three weeks. Study two pages a week.
2. Have someone test you on the appropriate brachot for different foods.
3. Say the ברכות out loud to learn them by heart. Learn the meaning of the ברכות.
Good luck studying, and remember to say your ברכות before and after eating!
Family Learning on Sunday, January 21
Come join us for Family Learning on  Sunday, January 21st. The topic will be Tu BeShevat and how we can show hakarat hatov for all the benefits and enjoyment that we receive from trees. We hope you can join us from  10:15 - 11:30 a.m. See you then! 

Next Round of Principals' Coffees
The next round of Principals' Coffees  will be for First Grade parents. The First Grade coffee will take place  Wednesday, January 17, from 8:00-8:45 a.m. in the library on the third floor. Principals' coffees are taking place for parents of students at each grade level on mornings in January and February. The coffees are an opportunity for parents to talk with the principals, ask questions, give input, and learn more about different aspects of Maimonides students' life and learning at a particular grade level.

Come and meet other families from your child's class and ask the principals questions about the class, curriculum, or anything else!
Upcoming coffees:
2nd grade - Wednesday, January 24 
3rd grade - Wednesday, January 31
4th grade - Wednesday, February 7
5th grade - Wednesday, February 14
Important Cold Weather Reminder
Although the cold New England winter weather has arrived, we continue to enjoy outdoor recess unless the temperature is below 20 degrees. Students should be reminded that they must bring warm winter coats, hats (or hoods), and gloves to school each day. They are required to bring these out to recess with them, but may take off layers as they warm up when playing outdoor recess games. When there is snow on the ground, students need to wear boots in order to walk on snowy areas and snow pants if they want to play in the snow. Students will not be permitted to stay indoors during recess.

PTA Hat Show on Sunday

Lost and Found - השבת אבידה
We are in the process of collecting items that have been sitting in the Lost and Found collection for several weeks and will be donating them shortly.  Please take a look at the photos below to see if anything looks familiar and retrieve it.  

We request again that you put your child's names on their items so that we can easily return them when found.  Most jackets and coats come with sewn-in labels which only require a marker to write your child's name.
Social Time!
There's so much going on here at Maimo! Be sure to check out our social media to get the inside scoop (with lots of great photos) on happenings at school.  
Follow us on Twitter and Instagram

See What's Happening in the Other Divisions
Lots of wonderful things are happening at Maimonides School!

If you'd like to take a peek at what's happening in the other divisions, click to visit the Early Childhood Center, Middle School, or Upper School newsletter pages.

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

!שבת שלום
Rabbi, Reena, and the Maimonides ES Faculty