Providence Hebrew Day School, 450 Elmgrove Ave. Providence, RI 401-331-5327
Deans Letter March 9
Dear Parents, This coming Sunday night is the Prize is Right. It is crucial that all families make every effort to come out and show your support to the school and to Mrs. Elissa Felder for all of her hard work. It is always a fun-filled, exciting night, with delicious food and entertainment.
This has been a busy week at school. On Sunday, we were all able to celebrate with Rabbi and Mrs. Yechezkel Yudkowsky upon receiving the well-deserved Pillars of Torah award from New England Rabbinical College. This prestigious award recognizes the tremendous relationships that Rabbi and Mrs. Yudkowsky have forged with their students, as well as the many extracurricular activities in which they are involved that have an impact on the entire Providence community.
Purim always brings a unique spirit to town. With the school’s Adar dancing and the annual parade, the simcha of Purim can be easily felt in the air. Purim is a holiday that has within it many hidden miracles. In fact, the name “Esther” contains the letters of “saiser,” hidden, to indicate that there is much more to Purim than meets the eye. At face value, Purim seems to be the story of the Bad Guys versus the Good Guys, when ultimately the Good Guys prevail. The Midrash in Esther Rabbah tells us that although Achashveirosh was known as a foolish king, he was really not so unwise, especially in regard to Jewish history. The Midrash says that when Haman approached Achashveirosh with his plan to kill the Jews, Achashveirosh challenged him. He asked Haman, “Who would have the chutzpah, disrespect, to even consider such a plan?” He and his wise cabinet brought verse after verse describing Hashem’s closeness to Israel and the punishments that are given to those who rise against them. Haman remarked that Hashem had aged and was now powerless. He relayed a diatribe of revisions in history and convinced even the wise people that it would be safe to pass a decree against the Jews. Mordechai recognized the gravity of what was happening and stopped three children returning from their day in school. He asked them what they had learned that day. One responded, “Utzu eitzah v’sufar – Evil advice will be decreed but the decree will be torn up.” The second said, “Al tirah mipachad pisom – Don’t be afraid of the fear of the moment.” The third said, “Ad v’ad ziknah ani hu – I will never age.” Upon hearing these prophecies, Mordechai understood that the evil decree would never come to fruition. He also knew, however, that the Jewish way of approaching tragedy is through prayer, and he acted accordingly. He gathered all of the Jewish children in prayer and Torah study. The Midrash tells us that it was the zechus of these children that caused the evil decree of Haman to be torn up and the story of Purim to have a happy ending.
Recently, reading our daily newspapers has brought us to the frightening thought of a nuclear armed Iran, and we recognize the fear that this has generated in all of the surrounding nations. All are in agreement that a nuclear armed Iran poses a tremendous danger to the world, and specifically, to Klal Yisroel. Across the entire Middle East, the Arab Spring has taken its toll on leaders and families that had ruled for many years. This, too, has serious implications for peace in the region and threatens the stability and safety of Klal Yisrael. The Rambam in Hilchos Teshuva tells us that we are all required to cry out to Hashem in prayer about every tragedy that affects us as a people until Hashem has mercy upon us from heaven. In the days of Mordechai and Esther, our tefillos and learning helped, and thus, I am confident that our tefillos and learning will help now as well.
During the past few weeks, I have had numerous interactions with students. I taught a middle school Gemara shiur and was amazed by the students’ mastery of the Gemara and their deep understanding of what they were learning. I walked into a lower elementary class where students had just completed learning a difficult pasuk of Chumash - without any assistance from their teacher. In another class, the teacher was describing the mishkan using a handmade visual, and in other classrooms, teachers were using the Smart Board as an interactive tool for student learning. In addition, although the Siyum Mishnayos was not a school event, it was a program that involved the hard work and dedicated study of mishnayos over an extended period of time by many of our students. In fact, due to their accomplishments, a number of our students were invited to sit at the head tables.
As the holiday of Purim, a day of giving and caring for each other, passes us by, and we begin to prepare for the yom tov of Pesach, we pray that this year’s month of Adar should be a month of Jewish happiness for Klal Yisrael. Just as I am sure all of you have tremendous nachas watching your children grow in their Torah and mitzvos, we can feel confident that Hashem is smiling on their accomplishments as well.
Rabbi Peretz Scheinerman, Dean