September 15, 2017                Parshiot Nitzavim-VaYelech              24 Elul, 5777 
In This Issue
D'var Torah
Rav Thoughts
Yom Gibush
Sixth-Grade English
Eighth-Grade Computer Programming
Order S'chach
Order S'chach
Absence Notifications
Social Time!
Division Newsletters
Quick Links
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Dear Middle School Families,   

It's been a busy week in the Middle School! The students have been settling in to their daily routines and launching themselves into learning in all of their subjects. Today they're enjoying a walk in the woods with their friends and teachers.

Please read on for a d'var Torah, a thought from the works of Rav Soloveitchik, and some pictures from our first few days.
Shabbat shalom!   
D'var Torah
by Rabbi Baruch Goldman, Limudei Kodesh faculty
In last week's parsha, כי תבוא , Moshe Rabainu presented in graphic terms the consequences of not following the Torah. Ninety-eight curses were enumerated in detail. These curses are known as the תוכחה , "The Rebuke."
This week's parsha opens with Moshe telling the people: You are all standing here today before your God. [ אתם נצבים היום כולכם לפני ד' אלוקיכם ]   Rashi [ פסוק י"ב ] explains the connection as follows. Upon hearing all the curses in store for them, הוריקו פניהם ואמרו מי יוכל לעמוד באלה - The people's faces turned green (white) and they said "Who will be able to withstand these curses?!!" We will all die! Moshe then seeks to comfort them and says: אתם נצבים וכ'ו Relax.   . אתם הכעסתם למקום ולא עשה אתכם כלייה You angered God greatly, yet you are all standing here today (alive), meaning that you are alive and well, and will enter the land, so no need to worry.
This is perplexing. Moshe seemingly gave the speech of his life. The people were deeply moved and enveloped with the fear of heaven, which was his apparent goal. Yet as soon as he sees their response, he says "Just kidding!" You guys are fine; You have nothing to worry about.
One explanation might be as follows. One of the most powerful tools of the יצר הרע (evil inclination) is יאוש - despair. I am beyond forgiveness; my future is hopeless, so I might as well sin and do whatever I want, since anyway I will not be admitted to heaven. G-d hates me and I can't change who I am, which is essentially evil, there is nothing I could ever do to change that. My יצר טוב (good inclination) is just too weak. I cannot alter the way I was raised and the habits I have developed.
Moshe therefore seeks to counter their despair and pessimism. All of you are still here. God loves you and is eagerly waiting to help, once you make the first move to come closer to Him.
An interesting question remains, however. Why didn't the Jews turn pale when they heard the 49 curses mentioned in ס' ויקרא] פרשת בחוקותי ]? Why only here in פרשת כי תבוא ? The אור החיים in דברים פרק כח:יז says that the curses in פרשת בחוקותי appear in the plural, addressing the Jewish people as a whole. This explains why in that section G-d included verses of comfort and consolation. עם ישראל , being an eternal nation, is always guaranteed to survive. In כי תבוא , on the other hand, the curses appear in the singular. Therefore, there is no mention of comfort - דברי נחמה - since no individual is assured of survival. This was the very reason why the Jews became so concerned. As individuals, there are no guarantees that they will endure.
The takeaway for us is to always remain upbeat and optimistic, knowing that we can indeed change who we are (growth mindset). We should not despair of elevating our spiritual level. Spiritual growth is the very purpose of our existence, and one we are all capable of achieving.
We also learn the importance of being part of the ציבור , the collective body of Jewish people. There is power in numbers. Having more friends, and turning former enemies into friends by apologizing and asking for forgiveness, is a sure way to ensure that through our combined merits, we will all merit to be inscribed for a happy and healthy new year. Amen.
Rav Thoughts
by Rabbi David Saltzman
As we approach the Yamim Noraim, Rabbi Soloveitchik explains, in Al HaTeshuva, the difference between kapara and mechila.
One purpose of Yom Kippur is to soften the effects of Hashem's judgment and alleviate the severity of any punishment. The mechanism for this is that on Yom Kippur, G-d's attribute of mercy replaces G-d's attribute of judgment, which in turn lightens the decree.
This is hinted at in the keriah for Rosh HaShanah, where we read that during Akadat Yitzchak:
וַיָּבֹאוּ אֶל הַמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר אָמַר לוֹ הָאֱלֹקים וַיִּבֶן שָׁם אַבְרָהָם אֶת הַמִּזְבֵּחַ וַיַּעֲרֹךְ אֶת הָעֵצִים וַיַּעֲקֹד אֶת יִצְחָק בְּנוֹ וַיָּשֶׂם אֹתוֹ עַל הַמִּזְבֵּחַ מִמַּעַל לָעֵצִים:
And they came to the place of which God had spoken to him, and Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood, and he bound Isaac his son and placed him on the altar upon the wood.
The Kabbalists understand this to mean that G-d's attribute of chesed (mercy), represented by Avraham, tied up G-d's attribute of strength (judgment), represented by Yitzchak. This is how mechila occurs on Yom Kippur, and it provides us with a more lenient sentence than we really deserve.
Yom Gibush!
First thing this morning, the Middle School students poured into their buses to head for Sharon for the day! The Sharon students enjoyed showing their friends around their shul and hosting them for shacharit, and then it was off to Moose Hills Farms for a hike, picnic, and team-building activities. This is a great way to start the year with adventures, friendship, and fun!

Sixth-Grade English
The sixth graders got to enjoy some creative writing this week, composing stories based on the illustrations of the book Wonderstruck, a parallel-storyline book that is told partly in prose and partly in images. The results will be welcome for submission to our Middle School literary magazine!

The students chose the images to use as inspiration for their stories....

...And then got to work!

Eighth-Grade Computer Programming
By Mr. Lev Novikov
In Computer Programming, the students are getting settled into Khan Academy and are learning to draw basic shapes such as ellipses and rectangles in a variety of colors. Soon they will learn about variables and how to add movement to their creations.
P icnicking in the Sun
Even on a regular school day, there are some great opportunities for being outside with friends! At lunch time on Tuesday, Morah Dana Bar-Or took the entire eighth-grade class for an impromptu picnic lunch at the Brookline Reservoir Park. It was a great way to relax in the middle of a busy school day!

Senior Class Lulav and Etrog Sale
The Class of 2018 will be taking lulav and etrog orders, beginning next week. A sign-up form will be emailed to all families with pricing and pick-up information.

It's Time to Order S'chach!
Even if you have a bamboo mat, consider adding some authentic and fresh smelling s'chach to spruce up your sukkah this year! Our PTA s'chach fundraiser makes it easy to order your s'chach while helping the school at the same time.
Minimum order is $52 for two bundles, $26 for each additional bundle (it generally takes 4-6 bundles to cover an 8' x 10' sukkah). Orders must be received and pre-paid by next Wednesday, September 20. Pick-up is scheduled for Sunday, October 1 from 10 - 11 a.m. at Saval campus.
Please click here to place your order!
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.
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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.

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On behalf of the entire Middle School:
Shabbat Shalom!

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