June 16, 2017                       Parashat Sh'lach                     22 Sivan, 5777 
In This Issue
D'var Torah
Rav Thoughts
Eighth-Grade Aliyah
Year in Review
Coming Soon!
Yom Chesed
Absence Notifications
Division Newsletters
Quick Links
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Dear Middle School Families,   

What an extraordinary year it has been in the Middle School. It has been an absolute pleasure to all of us to watch your children develop and grow over the course of this school year. As you'll see in the slideshow we'll be sending you soon, the changes have been dramatic.

On a personal note, it has been an honor working with you and your children for the last six years. I will miss your children and look forward to hearing about their future accomplishments. From what I've seen so far, those accomplishments will be remarkable!

Please read on for a d'var Torah, a thought from the works of Rav Soloveitchik, a look at Wednesday's 8th-grade Aliyah ceremony, and a slideshow of the 6th and 7th grade activities this year.
Shabbat Shalom!  

Brian Cohen
Associate Principal, Middle School                              
D'var Torah
by Rabbi David Saltzman
In this week's parsha Moshe sends twelve representatives, one from each tribe, to Israel to scout out the land. Moshe gave the scouts a few assignments to accomplish on their mission. They were commanded to see whether the land was good and whether the people were strong, and to bring back some fruits. Oddly, they were also assigned to see whether there were any trees, as the pasuk states:
וּמָה הָאָרֶץ הַשְּׁמֵנָה הִוא אִם רָזָה הֲיֵשׁ בָּהּ עֵץ אִם אַיִן וְהִתְחַזַּקְתֶּם וּלְקַחְתֶּם מִפְּרִי הָאָרֶץ וְהַיָּמִים יְמֵי בִּכּוּרֵי עֲנָבִים:
"What is the soil like, is it fat or lean? Are there any trees in it or not? You shall be courageous and take from the fruit of the land." It was the season when the first grapes begin to ripen.
Many commentators understand this request as Moshe's method of encouraging the spies to notice the beauty of the land. Moshe was instructing them to pay particular attention to how wonderful the land is, as it is especially blessed with special fruits. As the Seforno writes, they were to look to see:
הֲיֶשׁ בָּהּ עֵץ - "גֶּפֶן וּתְאֵנָה וְרִמּוֹן... זֵית שֶׁמֶן וּדְבָשׁ" (שם), שֶׁנִּשְׁתַּבְּחָה בָּהֶם.
היש בה עץ , are there fruit trees, such as grape vines, fig trees, pomegranate trees and olive trees for which the land is praised.
Rashi takes a different path and explains that the tree they were searching for was actually a metaphor for a deterrent from wanting to conquer the land. As Rashi says:
היש בה עץ - אם יש בהן אדם כשר, שיגן עליהם בזכותו.
does it have trees: Heb. הִיֵשׁ בָּהּ עֵץ , lit,. does it have a tree. Does it have a worthy man who will protect them with his merit. - [B.B. 15a]
There are a number of questions to ask regarding this Rashi - for instance, Why does Rashi divert from the pshat? How were they to find this person? - but one important question is: How can a single person have enough merit to protect the entire country? And does that idea even work - can the merit of one person guard an entire population from destruction?
The students at Maimonides know that the answer is a resounding yes. We have been learning about arvut the entire year and are very familiar with the concept that one person has the ability to take responsibility for, and affect the destiny of, others. This responsibility can manifest itself both on an individual level and on a national level. We learned about Yehuda taking responsibility for bringing Binyamin back from Egypt. We discussed Yosef, who took responsibility for physically saving all of the Jewish people in Egypt by providing food. We also learned that there is a metaphysical element to arvut. One person's tefillot can be transferred to help thousands of people. Finally, at the beginning of the year we learned a halacha from the Rambam, who stated in Hilchot Teshuva:
לפיכך צריך כל אדם שיראה עצמו כל השנה כולה כאילו חציו זכאי וחציו חייב וכן כל העולם חציו זכאי וחציו חייב . . . עשה מצוה אחת הרי הכריע את עצמו ואת כל העולם כולו לכף זכות וגרם לו ולהם תשועה והצלה שנאמר וצדיק יסוד עולם זה שצדק הכריע את כל העולם לזכות והצילו
Accordingly, throughout the entire year, a person should always look at himself as equally balanced between merit and sin and the world as equally balanced between merit and sin... If he performs one mitzvah, he tips his balance and that of the entire world to the side of merit and brings deliverance and salvation to himself and others. This is implied by [Proverbs 10:25]. "A righteous man is the foundation of the world" i.e., he who acted righteously tipped the balance of the entire world to merit and saved it.
Based on this arvut example by the Rambam, perhaps the same principle applies to the tree-man living in the land of Israel. The spies were commanded to determine whether there was an individual living in the land who could tip the scales in favor of the Canaanites. The spies knew that even one person, through their positive actions, has the ability to protect a neighborhood, a city, a country, and even the world by tipping the scales favorably and causing the multitude to gain merit through their deeds.
This is one of the many lessons we learned about arvut in the Elementary School this past year. It was a fruitful year learning about arvut and how we are all responsible for, intertwined with, and connected to each other.
Rav Thoughts
by Rabbi Dov Huff

This week's parsha tells us of the mitzvah of
tzitzit, comprising the colors lavan and
techeilet. One position in the Mishna is that these two colors are interdependent in the
tzitzit, meaning that the tzitzit are not kosher without either one.
The Rav says that the two colors represent two different ideas. White is clarity. It represents that which is plainly true. We know it when we see it.
Techeilet, on the other hand, is the subject of controversy. It is not clear what color techeilet is. What we know from Chazal is that it resembles the sea, which resembles the sky, which resembles the celestial throne. Techeilet is out of our grasp. It is distant and inaccessible. It makes us think of the infinite, in the same way as does looking at the sea and the stars. 
The Rav explains that both these perspectives are important. We need to be grounded and immersed in that which is in front of us and apparent, but to also never lose sight of the bigger cosmic and divine realities which connect us to the Kisei Hakavod.
Eighth-Grade Aliyah
It was a bittersweet moment for the eighth-grade students and their teachers on Wednesday, when we celebrated their Aliyah and continuation on to Upper School. Our amazing 8th graders dazzled us with their student-produced Aliyah ceremony. This group of talented, energetic, and creative students has enlivened our halls for the past three years, and we hope they'll come back across from the Upper School and visit us!

The eighth graders made their mark on the Aliyah in inimitable fashion, speaking movingly about their experiences and their teachers and sharing their gifts in art, music, and drumming (on unusual objects) with their parents, teachers, and friends.

The program included band performances and a stomp presentation, as well as a recap of their school experiences and heartfelt expressions of hakarat hatov (gratitude) for their teachers and parents. We can't wait to see what these amazing students will accomplish in Upper School!

Sixth- and Seventh-Grades Year in Review
To close out the school year today, our students watched a slideshow reviewing the year's activities in sixth- and seventh grades. They had a blast identifying their friends and themselves, as well as remembering all of the fun times they had this year, from the beginning of the year through the chagim, field trips, Color War, and more! We hope you'll enjoy watching it as well.

Click here to watch the 2016-17 Slideshow

Coming Soon!
Plans are well underway for next school year!

Please watch your e-mail for the following information:
  • Summer reading lists
  • Book lists for 2017-18 school year
  • School supplies list for 2017-18 school year
  • Classmate request form

Get Involved in Yom Chesed
Would you like to be involved with Yom Chesed, our day of community service?

Our fourth Yom Chesed is scheduled for Sunday morning, November 5, 2017. Yom Chesed is an all-ages community service initiative for our entire Maimonides community.  Our past Yom Chesed events have each involved over 500 participants helping a broad range of community organizations in hands-on projects.

While November seems a long way off, planning for this event begins now! If you are interested in helping to coordinate one of our Yom Chesed projects, or would like to find out more information about volunteer opportunities, please contact one of our Yom Chesed coordinators, Stef Mishkin, stefmish@msn.com, or Alissa Muzin, alissamuzin@gmail.com.

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:
We are not using the absence hotline this year!
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 .

Division Newsletters
Lots of wonderful things are happening at Maimonides School!

If you'd like to take a peek at the other divisions' newsletters, please click here for the Elementary and Upper Schools, or click here for the Early Childhood Center.

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

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