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This is the official e-newsletter of
Machon Sarah High School
A division of Ottawa Torah Institute


Machon Message

Parshas Lech Lecha - 5780

From the Principal's Desk.....

In this week's Parsha Hashem tells Avram that his descendants will inherit Eretz Yisrael.   

Avram responds by asking "B'mah Eidah"  - "How will I know" i.e. what assurance or sign can you give me that I will inherit this land?" 
Hashem's next statement to Avram is "Yadoah Teidah" - "You should know that your descendants will be strangers and enslaved in a foreign land over the course of 400 years."

Our Sages say that these two statements have a cause and effect relationship. Because Avram doubted and asked, "How will I know..." he was punished with the response of "Yadoah Teidah" - "You should know that your descendants will be strangers and enslaved in a foreign land for 400 years."  This Midrashic statement seems to be saying that the Egyptian exile and enslavement was a punishment for Avram's lack of faith. 

The Kli Yakar (Torah commentator, Poland, early 17th century) is very bothered by this for two reasons. First, we have learned that the Egyptian exile happened for a number of reasons other than a doubting statement made by Avram. Secondly, if Avram did something wrong it does not make sense that he would not receive any punishment himself, while the punishment would be meted out on his great, great, grandchildren. 

Because of these two questions, the Kli Yakar presents a different explanation of that Midrashic statement. He explains that Avram's crime was asking for information that he did not need. He was already told by G-d that his descendants would inherit the land, therefore asking for a sign or any other reassurance was unnecessary. The punishment for this statement was not the Egyptian exile and enslavement. That happened for other reasons. Avram's punishment was that he was informed of the distressing future in store for his descendants.  Avram did not need to know about the troubles his descendants would experience. His punishment was midah k'neged midah, measure for measure. Because he asked for unnecessary information, he was burdened with distressing information that he did not need to know. The burden of having that information was his punishment. 

I did not fully appreciate the significance of that Kli Yakar at first. I had always subscribed to Sir Francis Bacon's statement that "knowledge is power". I never focused on that fact that knowledge can also be a burden.

It is unfortunate that we can not un-know, un-see or un-learn some of the things that we are exposed to. We have to be vigilant and filter what we and our children are exposed to. The wrong knowledge can be a cruel burden or punishment. We can not delete our memories, but we can be selective with what we view and expose ourselves and our families to. Just like we limit what we put in our mouths to what is kosher, we must also limit what we allow into the hearts and minds of ourselves and our children.

Being a critical Kosher consumer of information is one of the many important concepts that we emphasize at OTI / Machon Sarah.

Have a wonderful Shabbos!

Rabbi Nimchinsky

From our Students.....

"נח איש צדיק תמים היה בדרתיו את האלקים התהלך נח"
“Noach was a tzadik (a righteous man), perfect in his generation; with G‑d Noach walked.” (6:9)

A tzadik is someone who “walks with G-d”- who carefully observes whatever Hashem says. Isn’t it unnecessary to say that Noach was a tzadik and that “Noach walked with G-d”?

Everybody is different. Some people observe Torah and Mitzvot at home, but when they are among their friends, they do things which a Torah- observant Jew should not be doing. Other people act pious in the company of their friends, but when they are home alone, their behavior leaves much to be desired. 

The Torah is stating that Noach was a tzadik, and explains what type of tzadik he was. “He was perfect in his generation”- when he was among the people of his generation he acted in a very observant matter. “With G-d Noach walked”- when he was alone with only G-d watching his behaviour, Noach walked in the path of Hashem.

We learn from Noach to act in the same observant matter when we are with company, or alone with only G-d watching us. We should always be ourselves like Noach, and maybe we can be “perfect in our generation”. 

Have a wonderful Shabbos!

Shaina T.

Machon Sarah Students Participate in
Terry Fox Run

In order to help raise awareness and funds for cancer research, Machon Sarah High School participated in the Terry Fox Run. The girls grabbed their water bottles and put on their trainers to do their part for this worthy cause, and ran alongside the Torah Day School students.

Machon Sarah grade 10 girls also participated in a walk earlier in the day assisting the Torah Day School Kindergarten students in their own pint-sized Terry Fox Run.

Being involved with our community and giving back are important parts of what is emphasized at Machon Sarah.

Machon Sarah Girls Build Relationships with Residents at Hillel Lodge

Machon Sarah students get to know some of the senior residents at Hillel Lodge.  The girls recently spent a morning shmoozing with the seniors and learning about their stories and lives. Giving of one's time to others is an act of Chessed, and spending one's time with seniors is also an articulation of v'Hadarta Pnei Zakein, showing honor to the elderly.

After the program a number of the girls commented on how they felt it was both fun and rewarding at the same time.   Our Machon Sarah high school girls are looking forward to having future opportunities to visit with their new friends!

Machon Sarah enjoys Sushi (almost) in the Sukkah

During Chol HaMoed Sukkos, Machon Sarah high school girls were invited to enjoy a Sushi making event in the Nimchinsky family Sukkah. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate and the program had to be held indoors. The girls rolled and enjoyed their own Sushi while playing a variation of Jeopardy, which quizzed them on both Judaic and general knowledge.  

The Nimchinsky family is looking forward to hosting Machon Sarah girls again in the near future.
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Ottawa Torah Institute / Machon Sarah
is a Beneficiary Agency of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa
The Machon Message is produced
by Rabbi Dov & Mrs. Rivkey Nimchinsky

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