Elul and the Thirst for Torah

The Elul project teaches Torah to religious, secular students: 'Not just studying Maimonides, but learning like Maimonides.'

Maayana Miskin , | updated: 14:05

Torah study (illustrative)
Torah study (illustrative)
Israel news photo: Flash 90

150 university students, both religious and secular, will learn Torah and philosophy in the 40 days leading up to the holy day of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. This is the "Elul" project that began Sunday, in the first week of the Hebrew month of Elul. 

The goal is “not only to learn the Rambam [the revered Torah scholar Maimonides], but to learn like the Rambam,” said Dr. Micha Goodman, one of the project's organizers.  For that reason, participants will learn about the teachings of non-Jewish philosophers such as Aristotle, as well as traditional Jewish sources.

Dr. Goodman told Arutz Sheva that 400 students had expressed an interest in the program. Unfortunately, the program only had the resources to deal with 150 participants, he said, but in the future, thousands will take part in the Elul learning each year.

The program is currently in its third year, having begun two years ago with only 20 participants.

What makes the high interest in the program particularly impressive is the fact that students are currently between two semesters, having studied during the summer for their final exams while planning to resume their full-time studies after the fall holidays, Goodman said. He had high praise for the young participants: “Today's generation is much more developed, hungry, curious, sensitive than our generation was at their age.”

"The worst of today are worse than the worst used to be, but the best of today are better than the best used to be,” he continued. “During the Second Lebanon War, I discovered that this generation's values had been written off too quickly. That's when I saw the 110% readiness to enlist, those who came back from abroad in order to fight, the volunteerism, the absorption of families [from the north] in central Israel – and now it turns out that they want to learn forty days and forty nights to prepare for Yom Kippur.”

"Amazing things are happening,” Dr. Goodman concluded.