By Rabbi Chaim Cowen

Each week at Yavneh, some 71 students rise early to daven at our Hashkama minyan so that they can attend extra lessons of Gemara before the teaching day formally commences. These students are not necessarily our academic elites, rather they are distinguished by their motivation. Instead of simply “going through” their schooling, they embrace it. Instead of waiting for learning to happen to them, they pursue it.

These students of Years 8-12 joined in a Celebration of Motivation this past Wednesday: a hearty breakfast for both body and soul. Co-chair Gerard Max opened the session, praising students for freeing themselves of the tyranny of ignorance – a form of freedom that involves effort and ongoing commitment to Torah learning.

Our students then engaged in self-study, exploring the notion of the physical reward for mitzvot as captured in Parshat Bechukotai following which Rabbi Mirvis led them in discussing the place of tangible rewards in the pursuit of spiritual growth.

To spend the morning engaging with an inspired group of students (not to mention the food!) was a small taste of heaven on earth!

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