Learning Torah has replaced chips, candy bars and pretzels at a vending machine on the second floor of the Jerusalem Central Bus Station. Passengers can receive a small booklet that allows them to cover a precept of Jewish Law, Mishna, Aggadah (allegories and non-legalistic text from the Talmud) and part of the weekly Torah reading.
It takes only five minutes to read the booklet, which costs NIS 15 ($3.60). The V'ten Khelkenu ["give us our portion in the Torah"], is the brainchild of Meorot HaDaf HaYomi, which for 12 years has attracted an international community of Jews learning the Written and Oral Torah.
Yehoshua Frei, marketing director of Meorot, explains that the idea is to encourage people to use their time productively and to improve the quality of their spare moments by learning Torah for five minutes a day.
“We made the format for five minutes so that everyone can feel he is learning Torah and Judaism,” he says. The bus station location, between the middle staircase and the escalator, was chosen because of the large volume of passengers who pass through, enabling them to learn while waiting for a bus or sitting during travel.
Frei estimates that hundreds of booklets are snapped up every month, and contacts have been made with officials at Ben Gurion International Airport to install a machine at the terminal there. Malls and supermarkets also are on the list of potential dispensing venues.
Several companies’ employees learn through the Meorot Internet site and via pamphlets that include a more extensive Daf Yomi - a daily page of the Talmud, studied every day by Jews around the world. One example is Amdocs, where 25 workers learn every day following the afternoon prayers, according to Frei.
More than 100,000 families learn through the Meorot HaDaf classes and website, which is available in English, Hebrew, Yiddish, Spanish and French.