December 8, 2017                    Parashat VaYeshev                      20 Kislev, 5778 
In This Issue
D'var Torah
Rav Thoughts
Spirit Week
Sixth-Grade Tzelem
Seventh-Grade History
Eighth-Grade Talmud
Pep Rally
Basketball Tournament
Special Movie Screening
Town Hall Meetings
ROFEH Toy Drive
Boy Scout Trip
Absence Notifications
Social Time!
Division Newsletters
Quick Links
Find Maimonides On:
Dear Middle School Families,    
The halls are decorated for Spirit Week and echoing with cheers for the Maimonides Invitational Basketball Tournament! Our students each had the opportunity to attend some of this exciting annual event, building connections with students from yeshivot as far away as Atlanta, GA!
Please enjoy a d'var Torah, a thought from the works of Rav Soloveitchik, news about upcoming events, and some pictures and stories from the week.
Shabbat shalom!  
D'var Torah
by Rabbi Dov Huff
The story of Yosef, as we read it in this week's parsha, is interrupted with an odd digression into the story of Yehuda and Tamar. What is it doing here? The medrash tells us that the connection between the story of Yehudah and Tamar on the one hand, and Yosef on the other, is two words - haker na.
After they devise a lie to explain to their father why Yosef has disappeared, the achei Yosef approach him with their brother's bloodied coat, saying haker na haketonet bincha hi - "recognize, is this your son's coat?" They use haker na to deceive their father, to avoid taking responsibility for their actions, and to protect themselves at their father's expense.
Only psukim later, upon hearing that Tamar is pregnant, and not knowing that he is in fact the father, Yehuda reproaches Tamar and asks her who the father is. She responds haker na lemi hachotemet vehapetilim, vehamateh ha'eileh - "recognize to whom these items belong! That is the father." The Gemara in Bava Metzia learns from here that it is better to thrust oneself into a fire than to embarrass another publicly. Tamar could have said "they are yours," but instead she hints to him subtly. Tamar employs haker na not in her own self-interest, but in the preservation of another's dignity. 
In fact, the idea of navigating a difficult situation is a recurring theme of Parshat Vayeshev. Reuven wants to protect Yosef from his brothers, but his solution is underhanded. He pretends to be with the brothers, with the intention of coming back later to undermine them. It is noble but divisive, and fails. Yehuda tries to bring them together - "what gain is there if we kill our brother... he is our flesh?!" But Yehuda fails as well, because he does not do enough. He suggests they sell, rather than save, Yosef. Yehuda then struggles with how to distance his family from Tamar to protect his youngest son, and Tamar knows that she can't be prevented from fulfilling her mitzvah of yibum
The children of Yaakov, the Bnei Yisrael, are faced with ethical dilemmas, and each one handles their own with varying degrees of success. The message of the midrash is that when we are faced with our haker na moment, needing to act in response to a complicated situation, the guiding principle to use is protecting the dignity of others. We need to follow the example of Tamar, and to make sure that as we navigate the complex situations in our lives, we are finding our path using the compass of compassion and sensitivity for those around us.
Questions for the Shabbos table:
  1. What was your takeaway from the d'var Torah this morning?
  2. What other ethical dilemas come up in the Yosef story? Are they resolved well?
  3. What was a haker na moment of yours? Did you navigate it well?
Rav Thoughts
by Rabbi David Saltzman
In his book Vision and Leadership, the Rav writes that the downfall of Yosef and his brothers was not necessarily caused by jealousy. Rather, its cause was their lack of appreciation for one of the most precious gifts that G-d has granted to humans: The sense of unity that members of a family feel for each other, which should express itself in love and devotion.
The brothers and Yosef should have appreciated each other, their relationships, and their differences.  They should have created a unified family, with all their personalities and differences contributing to the greater whole. 
Because they were unable to show gratitude to Hashem by appreciating their individuality and creating a strong family unit, they were punished with separation.
Spirit Week!

This week the sixth grade girls' Tzelem group decorated the Middle School hallways to get ready for the Maimonides Invitational Basketball Tournament!

Sixth-Grade Tzelem
by Mrs. Stephanie Samuels

We have talked about a variety of topics in sixth grade girls' tzelem over the past few weeks, including gossip and rumors.  We discussed how to distinguish whether something is OK to pass on to someone else, and we came up with the following criteria: Is it true? Is it good? Is it useful? If you can answer "yes" to all three questions, then it is something you can pass on.  If not, then it's better not to repeat the information you hear to someone else. We read the book Trouble Talk by Trudy Ludwig as an illustration of these guidelines.  

We also started to discuss the 6th Grade's Super Simcha Standards ( click here) in preparation for our upcoming bat mitzvah celebrations.

by Mr. Benji Hain
The sixth-grade boys have had lively discussions about the bar/bat mitzvah rules in tzelem over the past two weeks, and prior to that they learned all about peer pressure and the importance of being an "upstander" in all kinds of social situations, at school and beyond!

Seventh-Grade History

by Ms. Roberta Wright

The Trail of Tears is the most recent topic in seventh-grade history.  Our students have been reading primary sources to understand the rationale behind President Jackson's and Congress's decision to forcibly remove the Cherokee from their homeland in Georgia to the state of Oklahoma.  In debate fashion, they have delineated the arguments and presented their personal views.  In addition, we have compared these events to those in their own histories, hopefully making them more connected to our American story.


Eighth-Grade Talmud
by Rabbi Dror Saadia

This year we are studying Mesechet Baba Metzia, the "Middle Gate." This is the second Mesechet in the fourth order of the Mishna, known as Nezikin, torts or damages. It is also the second part of a threefold sub-group of tractates within this order that is also called nezikin, which consists of Bava Kamma, Bava Metzia, and Bava Basra, the first, middle, and last parts of Nezikin.
We are focusing on chapter three, which discusses the responsibilities, obligations, and liabilities of a shomer. A shomer is one who assumes responsibility for the safekeeping of another person's property, which is placed in his care. This property is called a pikadon, or a deposit.
From the beginning of the year, the students have been exposed to the introduction of the chapter and learned basic vocabulary and terms that will help them understand the overall concept of the subjects we discuss in class. For example:  שבועות השומרים,אומדנא, קנין, כפל, שמות ארבעת השומרים, etc.
We also learned how the court gets the authority toאומדנא (assume) what the owners' intentions are, and to actually make decisions for them for the purpose of real justice.
I'm happy to see that the students are very interested in the Talmudic material we're learning. They are asking the exact questions we need to discuss it in depth, and finding the Talmud relevant to their own daily lives.
I hope that this positive approach will continue to accompany the students throughout the year!
Pep Rally!
Before the start of this weekend's basketball tournament on Thursday, the Middle School took part in a campus-wide pep rally to support our teams!

Ruach was in the air as we sang, danced, and cheered on our basketball players!

Basketball Tournament This Weekend
Maimonides School is the center of the Jewish basketball universe this weekend, as the school's boys' and girls' teams host student-athletes from Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York at the annual Maimonides School Invitational Basketball Tournament in Memory of Leland Gelman.
The competition started Thursday night and the games continued this morning.  Maimonides teams will continue to compete on Motza'ei Shabbat and Sunday.  The teams will be hosted on Shabbat by the Maimonides Kehillah; Rabbi Steven Weil, senior managing director of the Orthodox Union, will speak here on Friday night. The complete schedule of games and other details can be found at
Another tournament feature will be a silent auction, raising money to offset weekend expenses. Highlights include a pair of New England Patriots opening-game playoff tickets and a baseball signed by both Ken Griffey and Ken Griffey Jr. Bidding will begin during the Saturday night game and conclude early Sunday afternoon at the boys' championship game.

Special Movie Screening on Sunday
There will be a special screening of the movie My Hero Brother on Sunday, December 10 at 6:00 p.m. at West Newton Cinema, co-sponsored by Maimonides School, Young Israel of Sharon, New England Yachad, and Striar Hebrew Academy.
My Hero Brother tells the remarkable story of a group of young people with Down syndrome who embark on a demanding trek through the Indian Himalayas with their siblings. As they deal with physical and emotional challenges, unresolved conflicts come to the surface and heartwarming friendships develop.
Click here to purchase tickets. For more information, contact 
Town Hall Meeting in Sharon on Monday
The Maimonides School Board of Directors
invites parents to a
Town Hall Meeting
Steven Schwartz, Board Chair, and Naty Katz, Head of School, look forward to meeting with you, listening to your suggestions and concerns, and benefiting from this opportunity for open dialogue.

These meetings are intended to focus on the non-academic issues within the purview of the Board such as day school affordability, financial matters, and other topics of interest to the community.     
Town Hall Meetings will take place:
  • Monday, December 11 at 7:30 p.m. in Sharon - click here to respond
  • Wednesday, January 3 at 7:30 p.m. in Brookline -  click here to respond

Please check your e-mail for full details of the meeting locations, or write to for more information.
There will be ample opportunity for questions and discussion during the meetings. To help us prepare, we encourage you to submit questions in advance to
We look forward to an evening of engaging conversation with you.

ROFEH Toy Drive Ends Monday
Please bring a new, unwrapped toy for our ROFEH Toy Drive! Boxes will be placed in front of the Elementary, Middle, and Upper School offices.

Boy Scout Trip to Israel
Maimonides Boy Scout Troop 54 is organizing a unique trip to Israel in February 2018. This will be a 12-day program during President's week, February 13-25.
The group will explore all over Israel with experts from botany, zoology, ornithology, ecology, and archaeology. 500 million birds begin migrating through Israel! The students will relate this information to the Tanach and Talmud.
Students do not need to be scouts, but they will need to register with the Boy Scouts of America before the trip. Participants may be families, children 12 years and up accompanied by an adult, teens aged 14 and up, and retirees.

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:
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 .

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

Division Newsletters
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, Elementary School, or Upper School newsletter pages.

If you would like to contact a specific school office, please use these emails:
On behalf of the entire Middle School:
Shabbat Shalom!

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