February 9 2018                     Parashat Mishpatim           24 Shevat, 5778 
In This Issue
D'var Torah
Rav Thoughts
Registration Deadline
6th Grade Breakfast
8th Grade Trip
8th Grade Step-Up Week
Hot Lunch Forms
Alumni Newsletter
Kehilla Trip
Boy Scout Trip
Absence Notifications
Social Time!
Division Newsletters
Quick Links
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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     

Mishpatim seems to comprise a random set of mitzvot. But upon further investigation we find there is a progression of three distinct categories throughout the parsha.

The first category, going from the beginning of the parsha to the middle of the third aliya, contains mitzvot which dictate our level of responsibility in cases of damage, theft and murder. These category one mitzvot can be described as the
basic civil laws  necessary for the functioning of any ethical society. 
Then in the third aliya there is a drastic shift to a second category of mitzvot. In this category we find mitzvot which demand that we treat orphans and widows especially well, that we must look out for the needy, and that our courts must go out of their way to protect the accused. This category can be labelled as mitzvot which hold us to a high moral standard.  
Finally in category three, in the middle of the fifth aliya, we find 
mitzvot bein adam leMakom - purely between us and Hashem, such as Shabbat and the chagim. In fact there is a masterful transition between categories two and three where the Torah first describes the shemitah year, in which we work our fields for six years and leave them ownerless in year seven, with a special emphasis on how this supports the poor. Then the Torah juxtaposes it to Shabbos, which gives us six days of work and a seventh of rest but, unlike shemitah, is purely bein adam leMakom. 
Perhaps in this light we can suggest that this progression of mitzvot is teaching us a crucial message of the entire yetziat mitrayim narrative. Bnei Yisrael were learning that the G-d which took them out of Egypt was not only a G-d of justice, a G-d who punishes the wicked oppressors, a universal G-d, but that this G-d was also a G-d with a special relationship with Bnei Yisrael and a special mission and vision for them, dating back to an ancient covenant made with their great-grandfather Avraham. As the Rav explains, at Matan Torah, Bnei Yisrael were expanding their understanding of Hashem from universal to specific, from
cosmic to covenantal. (See Rashi in Yitro on "Anochi Hashem E-lokecha ")
Thus the progression of the mitzvot in our parsha has the same learning objective for us: To first understand Hashem as a universal G-d, a G-d of judgment and din, with the civil mitzvot of category one; then, knowing the G-d with high moral expectations for us in category two; and culminating with our unique relationship with Hashem, as expressed through the mitzvot bein adam leMakom in category three. 
We are a nation with a unique relationship with Hashem, and He has a special vision for us to be a Mamlechet Kohanim - a kingdom of priests who live by His high moral standards as a message to all of humanity, a mission beyond the code of law itself.  Perhaps this is why our parsha   culminates in a brit   - a covenant. Bnei Yisrael   sign, renew, and accept the brit made with Avraham Avinu  and commit to upholding it, becoming part of a glorious vision for humanity. 
Rav Thoughts
by Rabbi Eliezer Bercuson     
The lex talionis - the principle of retributive justice - is the touchstone of much of history's anti-Jewish sentiment.  Rav Soloveitchik says these opponents of Jewish tradition claim that the law of "an eye for an eye" (Ex. 21:24) makes halakhah look cruel and vengeful, and, conversely, other religions compassionate and kind.  While the plain meaning of the Torah itself is that when one person blinds another person's eye, the former's eye should be blinded, our sages explain the practical law differently.  Chazal understand that, in such a situation, the damager should pay the damaged person the value of an eye.  Rather than "ayin tachat ayin," the law becomes "mamon tachat ayin."
Rambam considers this to be not a rabbinic interpretation of the law but actually a law intended at Sinai, a halakhah l'Moshe mi'Sinai.  That is, from the moment the Torah was given, G-d intended the law to be "money for an eye," not "an eye for an eye."  The Rav then asked: If the Torah had always meant that a damaged eye should be replaced by money - and not by an actual eye - why was the Torah phrased in such a way?
He answers that if the Torah had said "mamon tachat ayin," it would have degraded the image of the human body.  No monetary value, in fact, can be given to a human limb.  Human beings are creatures designed to serve G-d, and our bodies were made for that purpose.  It would be an insult to G-d's creation to place a monetary value on a human limb.
The divine penalty for blinding a person is, in fact, that the damager should be blinded.  However, the Torah does not give human beings the authority to carry out that punishment.  Human beings are imperfect; we err; we sin.  We cannot consistently or fairly mete out strict punishment.  The halakhah l'Moshe mi'Sinai prevents us from ruling on law in the same way as G-d could.  The Talmud (Makkot 7) looks askance at any Jewish court that uses capital punishment even once every 70 years.  Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Tarfon refused to ever use capital punishment.  The best that we can do is to provide the damaged party with some sort of restitution.
The lex talionis thus reflects the divine image of humankind better than any of its detractors ever could have imagined.
K-12 Early Registration Deadline for 2018-19
Next Thursday, February 15 is the deadline for re-enrolling your children for the 2018-19 school year in order to take advantage of the $650 early registration fee. After February 15, the registration fee is $800.  

To re-enroll, go to www.maimonides.org. Click on the "Quick Links" tab, log into My BackPack, and then click on "Enrollment/Re-Enrollment" to sign and submit the re-enrollment forms for your children.

Please contact Arline Tannenbaum in the Business Office should you have any questions (atannenbaum@maimonides.org, 617-232-4452 ext. 425).

Sixth Grade Tu B'Sh evat Breakfast
Last Wednesday, on Tu B'Shevat, the sixth grade got together to enjoy a special breakfast, including fruit-flavored cereal! It was a great opportunity to get together as a group, consider the meaning of Tu B'Shevat and the beginning of the growing season, and go into first period in a relaxed and celebratory mood. 

Eighth Grade Shakespeare Trip 
Next Tuesday morning, our eighth graders will be able to see Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream performed live by Shakespeare and Company at Pine Manor College in Chestnut Hill. The students are excited about this special opportunity!

If you have not yet sent in a permission slip for your child to attend, please fill one out here.
Eighth Grade Step-Up Week

High school is coming up fast for our eighth graders! To give them a preview of what to expect, this week each student visited several Upper School classes and learned from some of our amazing Upper School faculty. The ninth grade kindly welcomed them in with a special meat lunch on Tuesday. The eighth graders enjoyed their opportunity to experience the Upper School!

Hot Lunch Round 3 Has Begun!
This round of hot lunches covers February, March, and April! If your child would still like to place an order, forms can be found here for Taam China and Jerusalem Grill . Enjoy!

Alumni Newsletter Online
The monthly alumni newsletter for January is now online, and can be found here. This issue's articles include:
  • Classmates Reconnect for a Professional and Personal Tour in Israel
  • Alumna Passionate about National Park Experience and Challenges
  • Three Collegiate Alumni Help Build Bridges, Literally and Metaphorically 
If you would like to receive the alumni newsletter each month, contact Mike Rosenberg at (617) 232-4452 x 405 or mrosenberg@maimonides.org.

Maimonides Kehilla Trip to Launch

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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