For the amazing eighth grade talmidim at the Yeshiva of South Shore, the bracha of “V’Haarav Na” is a call to action. Each day, in one of the first brachos we make in our morning tefillos, we ask Hashem to make the words of Torah pleasant in our mouths and implore Him to always be able to learn His Torah.
The talmidim in Rabbi Stern’s shiur are currently participating in the Masechta Makkos Chazara Program using the renowned V’Haaarev Na chazara method. This revolutionary approach to learning Gemara, founded by Rabbi Dovid Newman, has been adopted internationally by many high school and Bais Medrash programs. Yet, the eighth grade talmidim in Yeshiva of South Shore have been using it just as successfully. What makes the students in Yeshiva of South Shore so unique is that apart from the young age at which they begin using a V’Haarev Na, they are also finishing masechta Makkos completely in seventh grade. “Once the boys are in eighth grade, Rabbi Stern begins using the V’Haarev Na approach to review the Masechta in order for the students “own” the Gemara by connecting them to it irrevocably,” explained the Menahel, Rabbi Zev Davidowitz. Incredibly, all of this is done in addition to the students’ rigorous learning curriculum.
One cannot help but wonder how an elementary school comes to implement such a high-level learning program. The answer is rather simple. Two years ago, the yeshiva had an idea to offer an incentive based chazara program on the entire Masechta as an extracurricular activity to motivate their talmidim to take their learning to the next level. Based upon the achievement of the first year, the hanhala decided to make the program a mandatory part of the curriculum for the following year, and once again, it was a resounding success. Seeing the incredible strides made by the young talmidim, the yeshiva decided to take their chazara program to an even greater level by incorporating V’Haarev Na. To kick off the program, they brought in Rabbi Yehuda Orlansky of Mesivta Ateres Yaakov (MAY), one of the administrators of the V’Haarev Na program. Using the V’Haarev Na approach, Rabbi Stern has been giving their students the necessary encouragement and tools to master their learning as well as inspiring them make a lifelong commitment to learning.
Rabbi Shmuel Judowitz, a seventh grade Rebbe, recounts a story of one of his talmidim, now himself a Rabbi, who was so motivated by his learning of Mesechta Makkos with Rabbi Judowitz in 7th grade, that he has personally made a siyum on the mesechta over three hundred times! This mesechta is now a part of him, and that is exactly what the hanhala at the Yeshiva of South Shore aspires for all of their talmidim. Just this summer, a ninth grade graduate of Yeshiva of South Shore made his fourth siyum on Mesechta Makkos; and that is at just fourteen years old! Imagine the possibility and the nachas that awaits all of the talmidim who are already seeing great success in their learning from this program!