Several kilometers eastward, in the Meir Harel Hesder Yeshiva in Modiin, the guys lean over the Talmud books with the same enthusiasm, delving into the topics – and reaching conclusions similar to those of their "secular" colleagues: "The more we learn, the more we realize that we know less."
Nir Braudo, head of the secular yeshiva, is a graduate of the Department of Jewish Studies at Tel Aviv University. "In the academia I studied Talmud like one studies science," he tells Ynet and Orot TV. "But here we do something different, because we approach these texts not as researchers, but as the landlords.
"Unlike the classic yeshivot, we don't issue halachic rulings here," he adds, but study Halacha for the sake of studying. "We can understand what the Halacha is, but it doesn't bind us."
Lost in their Jewishness
Rabbi Eliezer Chaim Shenwald, head of the Modiin hesder yeshiva, says that "every morning, the following sentence from Tractate Peah is mentioned in the prayer: 'And the study of Torah is equivalent to all of these.'
"This means that studying Torah for its own sake is the highest value among the values of Judaism. This is also what makes the house of study the holiest place in Judaism."
Yuval, a student in the BINA gap-year program, says he came to Judaism studies from a complete void: "I find that many people, also around me, are very very lost. I am Jewish, and I don't know much about it.
"I know that in the media – at least the ones I know – the religious are attacked many times, and I thought to myself that instead of continuing the harsh criticism and getting all heated up, I should enter this story in order to understand the flavors, understand the scent, the fabric. To become more familiar with this story."
On days when Torah studies and military service are mentioned together mainly in argumentative connotations, young secular Jews who have chosen to postpone their military service by one year gather at BINA to study Judaism seven days a week.
"We have established a national Jewish state here," says Braudo. "They feel that if they are members of this Jewish nation, and their Jewishness is a significant part of their identity, then something is missing. Something happened there, between the Palmach and the Bible, between the Bible and the Palmach. There is a hole there.
"In some way, I feel we are creating the Tel Aviv Talmud here. There was a Jerusalem Talmud, there was a Babylonian Talmud, and now this. We still have a lot of work to do, but we are starting the creation."