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Apr 29, 2021

the modern day King Solomon splitting of the baby

Ah, Ponevezh Yeshiva.

I don't know what you did to end up like this. 

Actually that reminds me that last week I saw an article about some Chabad activist who says he does know how Ponevezh ended up like this, and it is because in Ponevezh they publicly attacked and shamed the Lubavitcher Rebbe, so it is the one yeshiva where the boys treat the rosh yeshivas with no respect and throw yogurt at them. Is he right or wrong, I dont know - that is above my pay grade, but that is what he said. 

Over the past weeks the fighting in Ponevezh Yeshiva has heated up again and intensified. Videos were seen of boys physically attacking rish yeshivas, pushing and hitting, throwing yogurts, shtenders, etc.. I don't know, or care, what they are fighting about, nor do I remember which group is who - they call the two groups the "sonim" and the "mechablim" - the haters and the terrorists. Not overly positive names.

So they have been fighting again and now the police are involved. The police brought the two sides together to seek out a compromise, warning them that if no compromise is reached the police will shut down the entire institution for a month (including over Shavuos).

Obviously each side blames the other for causing the uptick in violence and for refusing to compromise.

Kikar is reporting that the "sonim" are claiming that before corona their faction held most of the seats in the main sanctuary and their demand is to continue the previous arrangement, but in order to prevent the yeshiva from being shut down they are willing to compromise on splitting it 50-50. They say they are waiting for a response fomr the other side but expect it to be refused - this would cause a problem for the sonim as their beis medrash would be shut down leaving them no place to learn but the mechablim actually have another beis medrash to use. 

So the mechablim will reject the offer just to get the beis medrash shut down for the sonim while they have an alternative solution for themselves.

The "mechablim" are claiming that the sonim are using their connections with the police and the entire suggestion of closing down the yeshiva to force a compromise was suggested by the sonim and shutting down Ponevezh has never happened - it functions 24 hours a day.

It is not for me to determine who is right and who is wrong. I don't think I can even suggest the two factions part ways if they can't live with each other, because there is probably a lot of money and prestige involved and it would need to be determined who retains the rights to the building and property and everything inside along with use of the name.

I also don't understand why the students are fighting over this. Where is the adult leadership? Where are the rosh yeshivas in this? Why don't they get an objective arbitrator, another outside rosh yeshiva, or a beis din, to sit down and make a decision regarding whatever issues they are fighting about? WHy are the students leading the battle here?

So, while the fighting continues and the threat of the police shutting them down hangs over their heads, all that's left is that the compromise discussion reminded of the story of King Solomon sitting in judgement over the two mothers, each claiming the live baby is hers and the dead baby is of the other woman. The one that was ok with splitting the baby was determined to not be the actual mother of the live baby as no mother would do that - she would give the baby away before splitting it.

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  1. The fact that they are getting the police to draw up a compromise, and there is no Beit Din or Halachic authority that both sides trust shows that there is a complete breakdown in sections of Haredi society (as does the fact that one of the most prestigious Yeshivot in the country thinks that violence is an accepted way to resolve issues)

  2. I think shutting down the Yeshiva for a month for some people there to take a break from gemara and get caught up on their Pirkei Avot, Mesilat Yesharim, and Sha'arei Teshuva would not be a bad thing.

  3. No sensible rosh yeshiva or bet din or other would get involved.
    It would only mean agmat nefesh forever
    Q: Who is funding this fight? Must be some rich people, on both sides.
    That is who must resolve this fight.

  4. "Academic politics are so vicious precisely because the stakes are so small." This observation is routinely attributed to Henry Kissinger who in a 1997 speech at the Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs at Ashland University, said: "I formulated the rule that the intensity of academic politics and the bitterness of it is in inverse proportion to the importance of the subject they're discussing.


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