January 12, 2018                      Parashat Va'Era                       25 Tevet, 5778 
In This Issue
D'var Torah
Rav Thoughts
Sixth-Grade Trip
Sixth-Grade Music
Seventh-Grade Science
PTA Hat Show
Boy Scout Trip
Absence Notifications
Social Time!
Division Newsletters
Quick Links
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Dear Middle School Families,    
It's been a great (full) week of school here at Maimonides, and we're happy to share with you some thoughts about our week.

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
"And I will bring you to the land for which I raised My hand to give it to Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov. And I will give it to you as a morasha, I am Hashem." (5:8)
In this week's parsha, Hashem promises Bnei Yisrael that He will give them Eretz Yisrael as a morasha - an inheritance. The Netziv wonders what the difference is between morasha and the more common term yerusha, which also means inheritance. He answers that morasha denotes a deeper, permanent, and more profound connection between the owner and object. A morasha is a connection that transcends space and time, which stays strong despite absence and distance. The only other thing described in this way is the Torah, as we know from the pasuk "Torah tziva lanu Moshe, morasha kehillat Yaakov." As Jews, we have an inherent connection to the Torah and Eretz Yisrael.
In a week, I will have the pleasure of visiting our alumni in yeshivot and seminaries in Israel. It is always wonderful to see our students immersed in both aspects of our morasha - their deepening commitment to and love for Eretz Yisrael and their embracing the unique, spiritual connection that every Jew has with the Torah.  This is the  blossoming of the "fruit" which we as parents and a school have planted and nurtured all these years. 
I always get much nachas as well from the refrain which I hear regularly from the institutions which our students attend - that they want more Maimonides students, and that our talmidim and talmidot are a credit to our community and our school.
Rav Thoughts
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.
Sixth-Grade Trip on Tuesday!
Next Tuesday, the sixth grade will be visiting the Christa Corrigan McAuliffe Center for Integrated Science Learning for a "field trip to Mars"! This will be an all-day field trip, rain or shine, and is a highlight of the sixth-grade year. For further information, please consult the letter that has been sent home. If we haven't yet received your child's permission slip, please send it in as soon as you can.

Sixth-Grade Music
by Andrew Malkin
The sixth grade has spent the first semester studying various genres of music, including reggage, blues, and pop.  In each genre, we studied the roots of how it came to be, famous representative artists, and the musical qualities that define each genre.  This culminated with students choosing their own artists and creating slide shows that they presented in class. Each slide show shared facts about an artist, why the student likes the artist, and how the artist has contributed to society.  It was great to see the wide range of musicians the students chose! They all came away from the unit with a better appreciation of music from the past, present, and future.  

In the next semester, we'll be learning to play the ukulele.  This will be a great opportunity for each student to learn how to play an instrument and learn a new skill that they can take with them as they grow!

Seventh-Grade Science
by Ken Rosenstein
Science 7 is working on Cellular Processes. Having finished our work with enzymes (ask your child if the enzyme catalase can be reused, and how they know), we now begin a sequence of classes on mitosis. This sequence will lead us to some difficult discussions, but will leave our children well-informed consumers of medical alternatives to difficult situations. Stay tuned!
PTA Hat Show on Sunday

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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