Dear SHA Community,
The week began with the biennial Prizmah Conference. One thousand Jewish Day School professionals and lay leaders from around North America gathered in Denver to learn from each other and to learn from experts in school management and educational administration. I am proud to have represented our school together with five SHA representatives - K-8 Principal Kerri Stern, Dean of MS Sara Weiss, Development Director Benjamina Menashe, President Karen Naggar and Vice President Ben Lipman.
I want to give a huge acknowledgement to Ms. Stern and Morah Sara for being selected to deliver a presentation highlighting the strength of our Middle School and its culture.
We are also thrilled to be partnering with Northwest Yeshiva High School this week in hosting a cohort of five very special students from Yeshiva University’s MafTEACH program. Students in this program have expressed interest in pursuing Jewish education as a profession. While at SHA this week, the students have taught model lessons and received feedback, met with administrators and teachers, talked with students and toured the school. We are so proud that two SHA alumni Al Benoliel and Naftali Katsman are members of this unique cohort. For those of you who are in Seward Park this Shabbat, please look for the students and welcome them to Seattle!
This coming week is Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday and we do not have school on Monday, January 16. Please consider participating in a MLK Day related activity - here are some events in the Seattle area.
A quick note to parents if you would like to walk your children into school in the morning, please use a designated parking space instead of parking on the curbside as it is a busy time and families need to drive through to exit the parking lot.
A message on this week’s perasha, Perashat Shemot:
Hashem employed a series of miracles in freeing His people from Egypt. These miracles began with the signs that Moshe showed Paroh and his magicians and culminated with the Egyptians drowning in the Red Sea. The Torah refers to these miracles in different ways.
The Torah describes these miracles as signs and wonders and also describes them as great judgments? What is the difference between these two descriptions?
HaRav HaGaon Eliyahu MiVilna, the GR”A, explains that when Hashem saves His people from their enemies who rise up against them, He first redeems the Jewish People and does good to them. Only afterwards does Hashem take vengeance against their enemy. For example, in Egypt, Hashem first redeemed the Jewish People and only afterwards did He destroy the Egyptians at the Red Sea.
The GR”A continues and explains that this pattern also occurred in Persia during the time of Haman – first, Hashem made Mordechai successful and only afterwards was Haman’s “lot drawn”.
The GR”A explains that there is an important reason for this pattern in the destruction of the enemies of the Jewish People – the enemy should see the greatness of the Jewish People and that Hashem is Lord over all.
Parenthetically, Hitler and most Nazi leaders, yemach shemam vezichram, witnessed the liberation of the concentration camps before they met their demise. By Hitler’s death on April 30, 1945, Bergen-Belsen, Auschwitz, Buchenwald and many of the other concentration camps had been liberated by either the Soviets, Americans or British. Hitler and his ilk witnessed the liberation of the Jew.
This idea explains the difference between signs and wonders and great judgments. The miracles that Hashem performed in redeeming the Jewish People from Egypt had two goals. First, the miracles demonstrated to the Egyptians and to the world that Hashem is Omnipotent – He is Master. This goal is conveyed by signs and wonders.
However, there was another aim of the miracles – to punish the wicked. This is described by great judgments. In Hashem’s infinite wisdom, these miracles accomplished the two aims of saving the Jewish People and exacting punishment on our oppressor – the Egyptians.
This idea teaches that the things that happen in the world have different audiences and are seen from multiple perspectives or frameworks. Let us consider this idea when we study the world - we will be open to learning even more from the world around us.