For the amazing eighth grade talmidim at the Yeshiva of South Shore, the berachah of “V’Haarev Na” is a call to action. Each day, in one of the first berachos 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’Haarev Na chazarah method. This revolutionary approach to learning Gemara, founded by Rabbi Dovid Newman, has been adopted internationally by many high school and beis midrash 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 to “own” the Gemara by connecting them to it irrevocably,” explained menahel Rabbi Zev Davidowitz. Incredibly, all of this is done in addition to the students’ rigorous learning curriculum.
Two years ago, the yeshiva had an idea to offer an incentive-based chazarah 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 hanhalah 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 chazarah 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 to 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 Masechta Makkos with Rabbi Judowitz in seventh grade, that he has personally made a siyum on the masechta over 300 times! This masechta is now a part of him, and that is exactly what the hanhalah 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 Masechta Makkos — and that is at just 14 years old! Imagine the possibility and the nachas that await all of the talmidim who are already seeing great success in their learning from this program!