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Sep 18, 2011

Fight Over Yeshiva Seat Goes To Beis Din

The Yeshiva World News reported on an interesting story that recently came out of Ponevezh Yeshiva.

Ponevezh, like other yeshivas that are overcrowded, present serious difficulties to those learning in the yeshiva who want to find an available seat, let alone a "good" seat. Often there is an hierarchy involved, comprised of how long the person is in the yeshiva, what shiur, level of participation, and at other times getting a seat is a matter of mazel.

briefly, the story happened that one family that had been using a seat in Ponevezh for two decades was suddenly confronted by someone else who wanted the seat, claiming they had owned it prior to the current family, and now they want it back.

The two parties could not come to an agreement, and decided to settle it in beis din.

To me this sounds like an intriguing story. It raises interesting questions, such as the passing down of a seat in a beis medrash, as the article says it was "the family's seat", meaning maybe it was passed between siblings, a father and son, uncle and nephew. Another issue is the level of chazaka in a yeshiva. And another would be the rights of prior owners. I am sure this would make an interesting case and I would be interested in hearing the debate in beis din and the court's decision. In my mind, they are settling their dispute correctly, by going to beis din. This is what beis din is for.

Meanwhile, over at Yeshiva World, it is always entertaining to read the comments. Over here the comments only get rough about sensitive topics, neighborhood fights, issues of possible molestation and the like. Over there, even on such a mundane issue as a simple but interesting din torah, everyone has to call each other names and be nasty.

One more thing, people think beis din is a last resort, and only something to be broached when the argument/dispute is regarding an issue of great importance or a significant amount of money. No matter how unimportant a dispute might be, and I am not saying this case is unimportant - the people involved find it to be of great significance - the right place to settle a dispute between two frum people, if they cannot come to an agreement between themselves, is beis din. Shulchan Aruch even says that for a dispute over a single pruta the parties should go to beis din and beis din is obligated to treat the case with the same significance as any other case. A case like this, no matter how significant or insignificant you think it might be, beis din is the right place for it to find a resolution.


  1. This isn't a unique phenomena. There is a well known Rabbeinu Yonah which discusses this issue.

  2. I have to wonder why the Yeshiva doesn't simply award seats based on merit. Don't they want the best students possible (rather than "legacies")?

  3. The Rosh in Chezkas habatim talks about shul seats


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