Dvar Torah

By Rabbi Dr. Richard Ehrlich

This week’s parsha contains the first of the two Tochachat [Chastisements] that are present in the Torah. G-d warns us about what will be if we do not keep the Torah. The curses enumerated are very graphic – and if one, after hearing of all the terrible tragedies which have befallen the Jewish people, now has doubts about Emunah [faith (in G-d)], all he has to do is read this chapter and he will realize that everything that has been warned of in these curses has, unfortunately, been fulfilled. Unbelievable description such as women having to eat their children in order to survive are things that have, unfortunately, occurred in our own lifetime.

But, before the Tochacha begins, there is a relatively small parsha of Bracha [blessing] – what will be if we keep the mitzvos. The Torah enumerates many wonderful things. We will have plenty, there will be peace in the land, we will be able to conquer our enemies, we will become populous and prosperous – all wonderful things.

And then G-d promises us that He will live with us: “And I will place my Mishkan in your midst..” [Vayikra 26:11] (This is a blessing, that, unfortunately, after 2000 years of not having a Beit HaMikdash, we cannot even contemplate; but it is a tremendous blessing to be able to feel G-d’s holiness in our midst.) However, that same pasuk which begins by speaking of G-d placing His Mishkan in our midst, ends with the words “…and I will not detest you” (v’lo sig-al nafshi eschem.)

The commentaries are bothered by this pasuk; it does not seem to make any sense. When G-d is telling us how much He loves us and He is promising us all the Brochot, is this the place to conclude with the sentiment, “I will not despise you?”

Imagine a fellow proposes to a girl. After going out on a number of dates, he is finally ready to “pop the big question.” He begins, “I am going to love you, I am going to cherish you, I am going to take care of you..” and then he concludes, “…and I am not going to be disgusted by you either.” Imagine… How far would that get him?

That, at first glance, would seem to be what this pasuk is saying. The words, “si-al nafshi” have connotations of being nauseating and despicable! What does the pasuk mean?

I saw a beautiful insight in the Shemen HaTov, a sefer written by Rabbi Bernard Weinberger (1935 – 2010). The Shemen HaTov explains that it is a wonderful thing when two people love each other. However, unfortunately, we know that when two people have loved each other and then they fall apart, there is no greater hatred than love spurned.

In general, people who divorce are, unfortunately, the best example of people who hate each other. People who loved each other and shared everything, but Heaven Forbid get divorced, are at war with each other. Too often, they get down in the gutter and try to destroy each other. Nothing is worse than former lovers who now hate each other.

This pasuk is saying that G-d is promising he will love and cherish and take care of the Jewish people. However, G-d prophesizes that He Knows that they will not be faithful and He will have to exile them and chase them out of Eretz Yisroel. The Sages and Medrashim use the analogy of a husband and wife who have to separate to explain G-d’s need to drive the Jewish people out of their land.

G-d informs us that when He splits with us – it will not be a bitter divorce. Even then, I will never come to hate you. I will never detest you. Even when I have to send you out and we need to – so to speak – divorce, I will always love you, and I will never detest you. This is truly a great blessing.

The Gemara in Sanhedrin [7a] gives a powerful description: “When our love was strong, we could have slept on the blade of a sword, but now that our love is not strong, there is no bed in the world that is big enough to hold us both.”

G-d however, says, that is not the way it will be when He finds it necessary to discipline the Jewish people. He will never detest us. We will always be special. This is a special Bracha. That is why it appears in the Brochot and not in the Curses. Clearly, Hashem still loves us or we would not be around 2,000 years after our exile, with millions of Jews living in our Holy Land of Israel.

Special Announcement

This week, our students participated in a science fair!

Congratulations to our K-4 Science Fair Winners!

Kindergarten – Ava Schwartzman!

First Grade
First Place – Ethan Mihelson
Second Place – Aaron Elkaiev

Second Grade –
First Place – Sophie Braun
Second Place – Joseph Cohen
Third Place – Jaiden Rebibo

Third Grade
First Place – Amos Amit and Abe Grego
Second Place – Ryan Yakobzon
Third Place – Mira Elkaiev

Fourth Grade
First Place – Ben Shindelman
Second Place – Leah Amos, Zohar Zadok, Alivia Clift, and Mayaan Malka
Third Place – Ethan Elkaiev, Jacob Khaimov, and Matthew Kipnis

Please stay tuned next week for the winners of the grades 5-8.



Kindergarten and First Grade

We had a fabulous week in kindergarten and first grade Judaics!
In kriah, the first graders are getting really good at breaking up words into syllables. The kindergartners learned the letter taf this week. Only one more letter until we know them all!
The first graders are busy practicing for their upcoming siddur play! We can’t wait! The kindergarteners are also practicing for their graduation!
We are also learning lessons from our Rabbis about the proper way to treat each other. The kindergarten is making an album with the stories and lessons learned!
Can’t wait for another great week!
Morah Chavi

Second Grade

We had a wonderful week as we reviewed the entire Book of Vayikra. Sefer Vayikra is the 3rd of the 5 Books of the Torah. In the synagogue this Shabbat we complete the entire Book as we say together Chazak,Chazak V’nischazaik. (Be strong! Be strong! And May we be strengthened!) We are working very hard preparing for our great celebration of receiving our very own Chumashim this coming Thursday. We are so excited to receive our Chumashim and study Torah as our forefathers have done for generations. We are the next link of this beautiful golden chain. Looking forward to seeing all of you there G-d willing. Shabbat Shalom!
Fourth Grade
Dear Parents,
4th Grade
What a great week we had at School. Loads of learning. Loads of fun.
Many children got many points for the Davening contest. The Davening was truly inspiring to listen to.
In our Chumash class we started the week with our weekly Quiz. The students did wonderful on the Quiz. The topic was the Brit that Avram Avinu had.
We started a major review of what we accomplished this year. We started with the beginning of the Parsha of Lech Lecha. We reviewed that Hashem told Avram to leave his land and to go to the land that Hashem will show him. The students answered the questions well and remember very well what we learnt in class.
Yes, we continued our “Kriah Pro” contest. Many children are reading much better.
Let’s keep it up.
We started this week to have the great opportunity that in class everyone wears Tzitzit. The importance of Tzitzit is so important and the Torah says, it is to remind us of the Mitzvot. Let us all try to do as many Mitzvot as we can.
Congratulations to Sarina, Jacob, Ben, and Zohar on being the “Students of the week.”
Keep up the good work.
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi B.

5th and 6th Girls

Dear parents.
Thank G-d, we had a wonderful and packed week!
Over the last few weeks, the girls have been doing many many many Mitzvot. They’ve been filling out Mitzvah cards, earning scratch-off cards with exciting prizes and placing their cards in that particular Mitzvah’s raffle envelope.
The raffle envelopes were full of the girls’ Mitzvah cards and we are so so proud of them!
On Tuesday, as each girl presented their Mitzvah project, we chose the raffle winner for that Mitzvah.
Congratulations to all the raffle winners!
The girls did a spectacular job on their Mitzvah presentations.
You should have lots of nachat!
We began to learn all about the holiday of Shavuot which starts Saturday evening June 4 (The 5th and 6th of Sivan.)
We learned about the Jews receiving the Torah on Shavuot and about how lucky we are that we got the Torah.
We learned all about how happy and kind the Torah makes people who keep it properly.
We’re in middle of learning all about Megillat Rut (Megillah of Ruth) which we read in Synagogue on the 2nd day of Shavuot.
We learned all about this week’s Parsha, Parshat Bechukotai and the many blessings that Hashem blesses those who keep the Torah with enthusiasm and joy.
Most of the girls did very well on the Parsha quiz we took after class.
Shabbat Shalom U’mevorach!
Enjoy your weekend.

Best regards,
Mrs. Perlstein

5th and 6th Boys

This week we are inching ever closer to completing the first Perek-chapter of Masechet Sukkah!
We learned about a suka that had no walls and no roof !!
It is a machloket whether it will or will not be kosher. The idea is; the walls can also be the roof and the roof can also be the walls!
Some boys were able to equate this idea of a slanted roof to a previous Mishna where there was a two post bed with a canopy over it forming a tent. Rabbi Oren Yitzchok Hecht, brought these ideas together. Just as in the case of the bed in the suka, where the bed was covered by a tent shaped canopy it did not have the law of a roof and therefore was not a separation between the person and the S’chach, so to here, the slanted roof[might] would not be considered a roof.
We learned about this week’s Parasha, Parshat Bechukotai. We are told that if we learn Torah energeticallythen HAshem will give rain in the proper time etc. and vica versa.
We also learned that the best reward is Hashem’s presence dwelling amongst us.
We also learned about the important Mitzvah of giving Maaser- 1/10 of our crops, and animals etc.
We learned many intricate laws and customs related and applicable to Shavuot.
We began a new section in Halacha-Hilchot Berachot.
We are anticipating the upcoming, uplifting visit to the Yeshiva of Staten Island and meeting with Rabbi Chaim Mintz Shlit”a, on Tuesday, arranged by Rabbi Berelowitz.
Thank you, Rabbi Berelowitz
Shabbat Shalom

7th and 8th Girls
This week we completed Chapter 6 in Hilchot Berachot!
We focused on Hilchos Mezonot that changes to Hamotzi when eaten in large amounts.
We also completed Parasha t B’haalot’cha in depth. We are looking forward to a siyum celebration this coming week, after Memorial day.
We learned alot about Hilchot and Minhagei customs of Shavuot, including “why do we eat dairy on Shavuot?” and “why do we decorate our Shuls and homes with plants, grasses and flowers on Shavuot?”
We also covered many details in this week’s Parasha, Parshat Bechukotai.

Batya Visits!
Girls were entertained and inspired by a visitor from Batya. Stay tuned for more excitement.

Taylor Dinar Inspires!!!
We, the girls and I-Rabbi Kuritsky were extremely inspired by Taylor Dinar, daughter of our devoted administrator, Mrs. Ilanit Dinar, who came to our class and spoke about one of the most important Mitzvot- keeping Shabbat!
Taylor described to us her journey to keeping Shabbat and all about what it means to her and how it has lifted her spiritually and as a person in general. The girls and especially myself, were inspired. Some girls even stated that they may keep Shabbat/more than they have until now.
Thank you, Taylor Dinar!

7th and 8th Boys

What an accomplishing week we had in class.
We start off our class with the boys putting on their Tefillin and Davening. The beautiful sight of the boys Davening is something to be very proud of.
In our Pirkei Avot lessons we spoke about that the Mishna says Hillel said, the more property the more worry. We have to realize how special it is to live a simple and happy life. We spoke about the importance to know the purpose of life. Th Mishna says “Lekach Notzarta” for this reason you were created. To learn Torah.
In Halacha class we learnt about how to put away the Tefillin. We also learnt what do you do if the Minyan is starting, and you can’t get your Tefillin.
We started this week to have the great opportunity that in class everyone wears Tzitzit. The importance of Tzitzit is so important and the Torah says it is to remind us of the Mitzvot. Let us all try to do as many Mitvot as we can.
Congratulations to Doron Etai, Oren, and Asher on being the “Students of the week.”

Keep up the good work.
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi B

Elementary School


This week kindergarten continued to learn about nonfiction books. They listened to many read alouds of non-fiction books and practiced identifying the text features. They read a nonfiction book about sharks and learned how to fill in a graphic organizer of all the different facts they learned from the book. Then, they used their graphic organizer to independently write a paragraph all about sharks. They were super excited to pick a nonfiction book about animals to read and write about. They also learned to read and spell long E vowel words. In math they took their math test on counting and identifying money. They got a 95 or above on the test. I am so proud of them! They began learning how to read an analog clock. They can now identify time to the hour. In science they presented their science fair projects. They all did an AMAZING job teaching the class about their experiment and how to stay healthy. In social studies they learned about supply and demand. Then, they watched a cartoon to review everything they have learned so far about wants, needs, saving, spending, goods, services, producers, suppy, and demand,

Second Grade

This week in math, 2nd grade finished up our unit on fractions, and started learning how to tell time. In ELA, we are learning about parts of a short story, and we began writing our own short stories! We also had the science symposium this week! 2nd grade’s projects were beautiful, and the students did a great job presenting their projects to their peers, and answering questions about their experiments.

Third Grade

This week in ELA we completed our James and the Giant Peach novel. We ended it with some fun and did a bit role playing and musical theater. Students also began a final writing piece in response to the text by telling their favorite part of the story from the perspective of another character besides the main character James.

In math, we also completed our unit on pounds and ounces. Students mastered converting pounds into ounces by using mental math strategies. They tackled tough real world problems and did fantastic on the quiz of adding and subtracting pounds and ounces.

Fourth Grade

This week in math we completed unit on bar graphs and line plots. Continued to solve multi step word problems.
In ELA we completed writing activities and identified adverbs. Worked on reading comprehension and answering long response questions.
We are continuing to memorize states and capitals and take weekly quizzes.

Fifth Grade
Greetings and Salutations!

This week, the students continued their vocabulary and root word study. In grammar, we learned about superlative and comparative adjectives, as well as proper adjectives. We finished our novels and wrote reflections on the novels we read.

In math, 5th grade is learning about quadrilaterals and angles.

Middle School

Middle School ELA and Social Studies

6th Grade
In ELA, we finished our persuasive writing unit. We also practiced being critical readers and evaluating arguments. Students continued their novel study of the Outsiders.
In social studies, this week, the 6th grade learned about the Roman Empire and the Five Good Emperors. We also learned how the Five Good Emperors helped the Roman Empire thrive. This week I would like to commend Charles for taking point in class discussions.

7th Grade
In ELA, the 7th graders continued their novel unit on The Giver. Students are doing an amazing job in class discussion, and are ready to finish the novel next week. Students practiced writing wonderful paragraphs, and learned about writing structure in class.
In Social Studies, students started our unit of the Civil War.

8th Grade
Eighth graders continued their novel study of the Book Thief. We discussed character motivation and story structure. In Social Studies, students started our unit on Imperialism.

Middle School Math

6th grade is learning about circumference and area of a circle.
7th grade is learning about systems of linear equations.
8th grade is learning about linear regression and finding the line of best fit.

Middle School Science

Students started a new Unit: Energy and Motion.
Students described balanced and unbalanced forces; define acceleration; calculate net force; explained how the forces of friction, magnetism, and gravity act in our daily lives.

7th Grade Science

Students are investigating how our body systems work together to maintain homeostasis. They are currently taking a journey through the digestive system and discovering how nutrition and circulation play an important role in supplying our body with the nutrients it provides and how it actually gets through our bodies.

8th Grade Science

Students are preparing for the Living Environment Regent by taking practice exams and working through various aspects of this regent. In addition, students are investigating how energy flows through ecosystems, how biotic and abiotic factors affect those ecosystems and the importance of interdependence within each system.

Jewish History

7th grade learned about the sin of the spies and its result. We explored the concept of mob mentality and how hard it is to separate yourself from a group. We learned how a college professor successfully convinced 400 students that 2+2=5. Everyone followed along until 3 students together opposed him. One alone did not work. Even two was a challenge. Three people together were powerful enough to go against 400 other people and stand up for what they believed in. We discussed the importance of associating with good people and asking advice from the right people.

8th grade began discussing the great personalities of the 1400s and how they shaped our lives today. We also discussed the different methods of learning history and how history is defined by the people who lived through it. We also spoke about how I researched at least 5 primary sources for each person I discussed and why I chose to do so.