First Graders Learn 1,113 lines of Tanya

First grades in Montreal’s Lubavitch Yeshiva were rewarded in a special event after they completed learning 1,113 lines of Tanya by heart, along with 70 Niggunim. Mrs. Joannie Tansky, a grandmother of one of the students, writes about her amazement at the passion the children displayed in their learning.

by Joannie Tansky – a grateful grandmother

Can a little six-year old boy in first grade have a passion for learning? One would think that he doesn’t really even know what learning is. Yet in Rabbi Yisroel Menkes’ grade one class in Montreal’s Lubavitch Yeshiva, the boys are not only passionate about learning, they pushed their teacher to learn more!

Working closely with Rabbi Charytan the yeshiva’s principal, Rabbi Menkes inspired the boys with a soft, yet fun approach to learning. It was through his warmth and sincere caring that they realized Yeshiva is a great place to spend their day.

To give but one example, the boys would enter their classroom every morning and see a PowerPoint presentation on the blackboard with lively music playing in the background. On the PowerPoint were words to a new niggun. They started off learning one niggun a week, then two per week and finally three per week until they learned a total of 70 niggunim!

Rabbi Menkes’ class is an example of how much children can absorb and retain with the right teaching methods. A positive attitude goes a long way in giving children that small bit of confidence they need to push themselves a little bit further than the day before.

Yet another project taken on by these very young boys, decided to together with their teacher, was to master as much Tanya as they could by heart in honor of the Rebbe’s 113th birthday.  They put their minds and hearts to the task and together learned, to be exact, 1,113 lines of Tanya by heart this past year. In grateful appreciation for their hard work, each student was presented with a leatherette bound Tehillim generously sponsored by Moshe and Toby Benshimon, parents in the class.

The parents and grandparents were witness to the dedication and sincere love of learning at the Siyum on Parshas Beraishis and Noach. Each boy had a chance to act like a Rebi – reciting several pesukim in a loud, clear voice and having the rest of the class repeat the line.

As the grandmother of one of those little boys, I cannot accurately describe the pride I felt. It wasn’t so much how much they had learned, which in and of itself would have been enough for me. Rather what shone brightly was their pure and innocent love of learning.

What was also truly amazing was that seventeen boys were respectful of each other and no one spoke out of turn.

So how do the parents really know that their boys know the niggunim: By the game that they played at home with their families on Shabbos. “Tatty, give me a letter and I’ll sing you a niggun.”

And finally, after the beautiful Siyum, little Michoel Nosson Ringo went home with his parents and suddenly began crying uncontrollably. His parents could not figure out what the problem was. Finally, after a long while, Michoel stopped crying and told his parents that he was very, very sad that this year was over. What a testament to an incredible year.

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