February 2, 2018                     Parashat Yitro                    17 Shevat, 5778 
In This Issue
D'var Torah
Rav Thoughts
Middot v'Dibrot
Hot Lunch Forms
Cardboard Challenge
Evening for 8th Grade Parents
Boy Scout Trip
Absence Notifications
Social Time!
Division Newsletters
Quick Links
Find Maimonides On:
Dear Middle School Families,    
It's been another great week here at the Maimonides Middle School! Please enjoy this 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
What an exciting weekend is ahead of us! With all the hype and swirl it is hard not to get caught up in the upcoming event. But it is important to remember that accompanying all this is serious controversy. It is the question of standing or not standing for a national symbol. There has been great debate and criticism levied at those who stand and those who do not. I am of course talking about the reading of the Aseret Hadibrot
In the time of the temple, the practice was to read the dibrot in the tefillah done inside the Mikdash. The gemara in Brachot tells us that chazal wanted to expand this custom to our own daily tefillot, even outside the Mikdash. The conclusion of the gemara is that they decided against it מפני תרעומת המינים - out of concern for what the heretics would say: "Why these 10? Are they more important than the rest of the 613? Do they have special status because they were heard from Hashem at Sinai and are therefore the only verifiable mitzvot?" 
And this sensitivity around the dibrot comes up again in the 12th century, in which the Rambam writes a teshuva saying that it is forbidden to stand for the Aseret Hadibrot, based on this gemara in Brachot
And as we zoom ahead to the past one hundred years, the debate pops up again. Rav Ovadia Yossef zt"l is critical of the prevalent custom to stand, and concludes that communities which do stand must not have learned the teshuva of the Rambam. 
Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l justifies the custom by saying that the gemara was only limiting the reading of the dibrot as part of tefillah, but we do not need to extend the limitation to our standing in shul
The Rav zt"l has a third approach. He says that the readings of the aseret hadibrot in Parshiyot Yitro and v'Etchanan each have two sets of taamim - two sets of cantillation marks and punctuation - the taam elyon and the taam tachton. The Rav points out that the difference between the two is that the taam tachton breaks up some of the more wordy dibrot (like Shabbat) into multiple pesukim and combines shorter dibrot into one pasuk. The taam elyon, however, stays true to the dibrot, with each one getting its own pasuk. The Rav says that while the reading of the taam tachton represents a fulfillment of Kriyat HaTorah, the reading of the taam elyon, which we generally do in our shuls, is fundamentally different. When we read the dibrot one at a time, we are not placing them on a pedestal above the other mitzvot; we are reenacting Matan Torah. And this is why we stand. Three times a year, when we read the dibrot, we as Am Yisrael try to reexperience and relive the moment when we stood at the foot of Har Sinai
The controversy surrounding the Aseret Hadibrot is in some ways a symptom of the larger question: What is the nature of the dibrot? What sets them apart? While there are many attempts to answer this, Rashi says at the end of Mishpatim that they are the super-categories into which all 613 mitzvot can be placed. This idea is one which goes well with our middot and dibrot program - which we rolled out today - in which we will focus with our students on some relevant messages and important mussar which can be gleaned from the dibrot, which perhaps encapsulate kol haTorah kula.
Questions for the Shabbos table:
  1. What was your takeaway from the d'var Torah this morning?
  2. Can you make an argument to say that each of the dibrot represents a fundamental principle of Judaism?
  3. If the first five are bein adam lemakom and the last five are bein adam lechaveiro, why might kibbud av va'em be in the first set?
Rav Thoughts
by Rabbi David Saltzman    
Yitro questions why people are standing in line all day in front of Moshe. According to Ramban, Moshe answered that he had 3 responsibilities: To daven for the people - לִדְרשׁ אֱלֹהִים , to judge them - וְשָׁפַטְתִּי , and to teach them Torah - וְהוֹדַעְתִּי אֶת חֻקֵּי .
Expanding on responsibility number one, the Rav explains that when a person davens for someone who is ill, Hashem judges the sick person and decides whether they are worthy of being cured. Sometimes, if the person does not deserve to be healed, perhaps a family member who is pained by the situation could warrant a restoration of health for the sick person.
The Rav asserts, based on an alternative reading of a gemara in Berachot, that a talmid chacham who is unrelated to the sick person has the same power as a relative to heal the sick through tefilla. When the talmid chacham expends extra effort and energy and joins in the pain of the sick person, Hashem will send a cure to the ill person on behalf of the talmid chacham. Since the talmid chacham does not deserve to be in pain, the sick person is healed.
Therefore, tzadikim, talmedei chachamim, and neviim have a special responsibility and obligation to daven on behalf of others. This was the first responsibility, among many, that Moshe fulfilled for the people.

Middot v'Dibrot Program
Today the students took part in a special learning program. Since we are reading about the Aseret HaDibrot in shul this week, it seemed like a great opportunity to take a close look at these mitzvot and consider their ramifications. The students watched a video about people considering their behavior according to what can be learned in this parasha.
Does " lo tirtzach" - do not kill - refer only to actual murder? What other behaviors and ideals can we learn from the Aseret HaDibrot? The students are working together in large groups and small ones to brainstorm their way through these and other questions, role-playing and refining their sense of the middot, personal qualities, that we value so highly.

Hot Lunch Forms Available
The next round of hot lunches will cover February, March, and April! Orders can be placed for Taam China and Jerusalem Grill . Enjoy!

Cardboard Challenge

The seventh grade had a fantastic time inviting the fifth grade over for their first taste of Middle School! The students worked in mixed-grade teams to devise, create, and play carnival games using nothing but recycled cardboard and art supplies. We were blown away by their creativity and capability!

Starting with a pile of cardboard...

and adding a lot of effort...

produces amazing results!

Special Evening for 8th Grade Parents

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: svedol@maimonides.org

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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