view counter
Has The ‘Tough Love’ Rebbe Gone Too Far?
Rav Aharon Bina has headed a popular Jerusalem yeshiva for diaspora students for many years. But charges of emotional abuse continue to dog him.
Photo Galleria: 

For those in the Modern Orthodox community who send their sons to yeshivas in Israel for a year or two of post-high school study, it’s long been an open secret that Rav Aharon Bina, rosh hayeshiva of Netiv Aryeh in the Old City of Jerusalem, has a unique — many say bizarre — pedagogical style.

Supporters call it “tough love”; critics call it abuse.

Credited with transforming many troubled American students who had been branded hopeless by other educators, and taking motivated young men to a higher level of learning, the 63-year-old rabbi is praised by several leading American rabbis as having been a wonderful educator for more than three decades. And his yeshiva, supported by prominent philanthropists, including businessman Ira Rennert, is a major — and approved — feeder school to Yeshiva University.

But a significant minority of former students, employees and colleagues maintain that Rav Bina is controlling, manipulative and emotionally coercive in ways that would never be accepted in other schools. In what has become known throughout Israeli yeshivot as “Bina Stories,” he is said to regularly yell at, humiliate and insult students in public; threaten to expel them for seemingly no reason (and make good on that promise with a few every fall, sometimes without first notifying the parents); press psychologists he hires to share private information about the students he has sent them; and tell those in disfavor that they are cursed.

The situation is so well known that a several years ago a disgruntled former student created a blog and invited others to share their experiences — and many did. It was called IHateRavBina, later changed to the Bina Abuse Blog, which has posts from more than two dozen former students and parents over a span of three decades sharing their personal stories of disturbing encounters with Rav Bina.

The blog re-emerged recently, and includes a long post from Joel (Yoel) Moskowitz, 47, of Long Island’s Five Towns, who recounted several disturbing episodes from more than 30 years ago, when he was a student of Rav Bina at HaKotel, a Jerusalem yeshiva Rav Bina headed before heading Netiv Aryeh.

Having lost his mother to cancer and seen his father remarry shortly thereafter, Moskowitz said he was shocked when Rav Bina, in class one day, suddenly declared that if a man remarries after his wife dies, it shows he never loved his first wife. Later, seeing that Moskowitz was distraught, Rav Bina said to him, “If you took it personal, then you’re a bigger idiot than I thought you were,” the former student recalls.

“I want to be quoted by name [on the website] and I chose to speak out,” Moscowitz says, “because I hear that this abusive and damaging behavior by Rav Bina is still going on and [I know] that victims tend to blame themselves.”

He adds that his experience helped turn him away from Jewish observance for a time. And he finds it “inconceivable” that the rabbi’s actions are known and tolerated by Jewish lay leaders and yeshiva high schools in the U.S., “reminiscent of all the other instances of the head-in-the-sand attitude in the Orthodox community toward abuse, albeit emotional and not physical.”

Even the rabbi’s most ardent supporters acknowledge that he sometimes speaks and acts as if out of control, and some have described him as “crazy,” “wacko” and “doing things no rebbe should ever do.” But in the next breath they defend him as a warm, remarkably caring man who has had a very positive impact on the overwhelming majority of the thousands of students he has taught.

Sandy Eisenstadt, a New York businessman who has been an avid supporter of Rav Bina for the last 25 years since his two sons studied with him, likens Rav Bina to a drill sergeant.

“If you’re thin-skinned, he’s not for you,” he said, comparing the Rav Bina experience to becoming a Navy Seal or U.S. Marine. “You know what you’re in for. Otherwise don’t go. You have to ask yourself why more students are coming to his yeshiva than any other. And most love and adore him, and have become wonderful Jews.”

But some are wondering why, indeed, Netiv Aryeh is so popular, with an estimated 110 first-year and 60 second-year American students. Is it because of, or in spite of, Rav Bina’s personality? And why do families, deeply concerned about the emotional, educational and spiritual well-being of their children, continue to send their sons to study with Rav Bina when his controversial reputation is so well known?

A Slap Or A Shove

The level of concern about the rabbi’s behavior escalated in 2009 after Andrew (not his real name), a student at Netiv Aryeh and graduate of the Frisch School in Paramus, N.J., says that Rav Bina slapped him in the face four or five times during a meeting in the rabbi’s office. Andrew’s parents lodged complaints and were told the rabbi would apologize for his behavior. But the rabbi claims, through intermediaries — he declined to be interviewed for this story — that it was a harmless shove or poke to the shoulder.

What led to the encounter was the fact that although Netiv students are not allowed to leave the premises at night, Andrew had gone out to a bar with friends on Ben Yehuda Street, the pedestrian mall and popular hangout for American students in Jerusalem, and was spotted by a madrich, or counselor, from his yeshiva.

The next morning he was told he was expelled.

Andrew later explained that at Netiv, expulsion meant a student could remain in the dorm and eat in the cafeteria, but could not attend classes. To be readmitted, one had to meet with Rav Bina and “you had to beg him to let you back,” he told The Jewish Week, which often happened, but the result was that “you were going to be watched more closely.”

Andrew decided he would meet with Rav Bina, apologize and hope to be taken back. “I had made great friends, was learning a lot and did not want to leave,” he explained.

When he arrived at the rabbi’s office, he recalled that about nine other students were there for the same reason, on “parole” and seeking readmission.

He said they waited for many hours until, at 2:30 a.m., Rav Chanan, one of Rav Bina’s sons and his top assistant, emerged from the main office to say that Rav Bina needed to sleep. The young men came back in the morning and waited for “five, six hours at a time” to be called in, according to Andrew, with brief breaks to eat.

This went on for “two or three days,” he said.

“Occasionally Rav Bina would walk out of his office and yell at us, telling us that we weren’t good people and that we were nothings.” Andrew said he tried to go back to his morning seder [class] once but the rabbi in charge told him to leave.

Eventually the boys on parole were called in to Rav Bina’s office, one at a time, and during his meeting, Andrew said he apologized for his behavior and said he had made a mistake, but the rabbi said he was being dishonest. “You’re a good actor and a liar,” he says Rav Bina told him.

He alleges that Rav Bina rose from his chair, walked behind him, grabbed his shirt and asked, “What are we going to do about this? What are we going to do?” Then, Andrew claims, the rabbi lifted his hand and slapped him “across the face four or five times.

“I was shocked, I couldn’t speak,” he says.

The Rav Bina version, culled from intermediaries, is that he was concerned about the young man’s drinking and was just trying to shake him up, out of concern.

Whatever transpired, whether Andrew was slapped in the face or, as Rav Bina claims, shoved in the shoulder, the young man notified his parents back home that he was on probation and would only be accepted back if he agreed to three conditions: no more Ben Yehuda visits; he would have to sit in the beit midrash [study hall] and learn all night on Thursday nights, as is a regular if not prevalent practice at many yeshivas; and he had to be willing to see a therapist at his own cost if Rav Bina thought it was appropriate.

Andrew’s mother was uncomfortable with the situation and called John Krug, The Frisch School guidance counselor who is also director of alumni affairs for Netiv Aryeh and unofficial spokesman for Rav Bina. He sought to reassure her that Rav Bina was “a very good person but just has a different way of doing things,” as she recalls.

Krug has said that Rav Bina is often misunderstood, noting that people who are “passionate about what they do are going to arouse emotions in other people. In today’s world, with its [emphasis on] political correctness, sensitivity has taken a place on the front burner.”

Andrew’s mom said Krug told her he would see to it that Rav Bina would apologize, which did not happen.

She also met with Ilana Scheiner, the executive director and American representative of Netiv, who began the conversation by praising Rav Bina and his positive impact on his students.

“Then I told her what happened” to her son, the mother said. “’He may have gone too far,’ she told me. ‘In general he’s very effective.’”

Andrew said that after word got back to the yeshiva that his mother was questioning Rav Bina’s behavior, he was treated with suspicion, and felt increasingly ill at ease.

He ended up transferring to another Israeli yeshiva, and looks back on the Netiv experience as contributing to the fact that he is no longer observant.

Now a sophomore in college, Andrew said he was disillusioned by what he encountered. “We learned in yeshiva that if you embarrass someone it is like killing him, and yet Rav Bina likes to publicly humiliate people.

“I’m off the derech [religious path] now,” he said. “I thought, ‘This is how you treat people as a rabbi in the Old City of Jerusalem?’ This is not for me.”

YU Connection

The complaints Andrew’s mother made became known at Yeshiva University, since Netiv Aryeh is one of 24 men’s yeshivot and 20 women’s seminaries in Israel that are part of YU’s S. Daniel Abraham Israel Program. Each year about 600 high school graduates begin their YU education with a year of study in Israel, for which they receive college credits, before continuing their undergraduate studies at YU, here in New York.

Scott Goldberg is director of YU’s Institute for University-School Partnership and part of a team of educators and psychologists that visits the Israeli yeshivot periodically “to review their educational programs to satisfy our need for confidence” in the academics and the quality of the yeshiva program, he said.

In 2010, Goldberg was part of a team that visited Netiv Aryeh and, “having been made aware of complaints” about Rav Bina’s behavior, met with the rabbi and other administrators, as well as educators and students who were there at the time.

“We asked pointed, tough questions,” he wrote in an e-mail to The Jewish Week after declining to be interviewed in person, “and received what we judged to be straight answers. We learned that changes had been made and that specific programs and procedures had been put in place to not only monitor the situation but to ensure the safety of all the students.”

Goldberg did not respond to The Jewish Week’s request for details about the nature of the review or the changes that were put in place.

Andrew and his mother say they were never questioned about his encounter or how the yeshiva dealt with the complaint.

Goldberg said that since the 2010 meeting with Rav Bina, neither he nor YU staff members in Israel have heard of any new grievances. He added that were they to learn of “a credible new complaint, we would certainly look into it immediately and respond appropriately.”

Similarly, Rav Bina’s supporters acknowledge that he has acted inappropriately on occasion over the years, primarily in terms of berating students publicly, but they insist he is a changed man and that they know of no recent accounts of the rabbi acting in a belligerent manner.

But the complaints persist and are not difficult to come across.

Peter (not his real name), a 19-year-old currently studying in Israel, attended Netiv Aryeh this past fall but transferred after finding the environment too authoritative. 

He maintains that Rav Bina can be extremely controlling and manipulative of his students. Peter recalls a friend of his being chastised by the rabbi after the student decided to play football on the night of his father’s yahrtzeit.

“Why do you hate your father?” Rav Bina berated the student, according to Peter, and later told the young man he had to see one of the school therapists at his own cost. 

Several psychologists called on by Rav Bina to meet with students have refused to do so because they say the rabbi insists on finding out what was discussed between client and therapist, a professional taboo.

Peter also notes that Rav Bina would make fun of and bully certain students in public. He regularly “disregards a person’s feelings and just does what he wants, whether its correct or not.” 

Ben (who gave permission for only his first name to be used), left Netiv Aryeh halfway through his year there, in 2006, feeling “very depressed.” He says he was bullied and publicly humiliated by Rav Bina, who referred to him as shaygetz (a derogatory word for gentile) because he had been caught reading a book on evolution. Ben said his social isolation reached the point where his classmates would not count him in a minyan.

Aaron (not his real name), a recent alum of Netiv Aryeh and current student at YU, said he was uncomfortable with how Rav Bina spoke to students, making seemingly instant judgments about their character based on appearance. Picking on certain students, he often would refer to them as “gay,” or say they had a “goy face,” or were fat or would come down with AIDS or that God hates them.

“Rav Bina would regularly tell people they are addicted to drugs, mistreat their parents and are going to beat their wives,” Aaron said. One student caught drinking early in the year was from then on referred to by the rabbi as “Alan the Alcoholic.”

“Rav Bina would single out specific kids in class and say things like, ‘You look at porn and you will for the rest of your life. You told me that; I know what you do. Get out, pack your bags.”

Such students were told by the rabbi they were being sent to cherem (a form of censure or excommunication) and had to transfer to a yeshiva in the south of the country, in the isolated community of Mitzpeh Ramon, often without their parents being notified.

That control apparently applies to yeshiva staff as well. One former Netiv Aryeh rebbe described the environment of the yeshiva as one of “constant emotional abuse” during the four years he was there. He said he was one of a number of teachers forced by Rav Bina to go to one of the school therapists, and that the sessions were not kept confidential.

Deeply Admired

Supporters of Rav Bina, including rabbis, lay leaders and illustrious former students of his, offer up a very different portrait of the man they deeply admire, while acknowledging his excesses.

Rabbi Haskel Lookstein of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun on the Upper East Side, says that “whoever Rav Bina is, and whatever his way of teaching and reacting may be, it is well known in the community that he is, on the whole, a person who deeply loves his students and cares very much about their development.

“He may be guilty at times of what I would consider ‘tough love’ and talks freely, perhaps going overboard and embarrassing people, but all of the situations I am aware of are where he cares deeply about the students and wants to keep them on the straight path.”

Rabbi Lookstein, whose son was a student of Rav Bina two decades ago, said he can think of no other Israeli rebbe who is flown in to the U.S. to officiate at as many weddings of former students as Rav Bina, an indication of the devotion and affection his students and their families have for him.

“I know from personal knowledge that he teaches students to be baalei chesed [kind people], to give of themselves to the community and to individuals,” Rabbi Lookstein said. “That’s the Rav Bina I know, and if sometimes his speech is too quick and too strong, he’s a human being who can make mistakes. And that is the essence of the man.”

Asked about the critical statements some former students of Rav Bina have made, Rabbi Lookstein said, “I’m not familiar with blogs,” adding, “When I talked to him recently, he said he was spoken to by a professional from another institution and that he has tried very hard to avoid this kind of speech.”

Rabbi Heshie Billet of the Young Israel of Woodmere has known and been close to Rav Bina for more than 40 years.

“I have attended several Netiv Aryeh alumni Shabbatonim,” he told The Jewish Week, “and am impressed by the huge turnout of alumni — single and married, recent alumni and alumni from decades ago — who come for an inspiring tefillah [prayer service] and for the opportunity to say Shabbat Shalom to Rav Bina.”

Sandy Eisenstadt, the local businessman who described Rav Bina as a kind of rebbe-drill sergeant, said he is “totally devoted to teaching his students” to be upstanding Jewish young men. “He is not politically correct, his style is not traditional, he acts in provocative ways. But it works with most students, who love and adore him and who become wonderful Jews.”

Would the rabbi’s behavior be tolerated at an American school or yeshiva?

“Probably not,” Eisenstadt said, adding, “Maybe not anywhere else.” But he said that students and parents know what they are signing up for, and that the overwhelming majority of them are very pleased by the results.

Eisenstadt solicited 11 lengthy testimonials from grateful parents and recent and older students of Rav Bina, including rabbis, each describing their teacher as deeply considerate, personally concerned with them as individuals, and not at all like the “scary” personage they had heard about before coming to his yeshiva.

Ari Berkowitz, who spent the last two years at Netiv Aryeh and is currently living in Israel, awaiting the start of his service in the Israeli army, wrote: “In my years at Netiv Aryeh, Rav Bina has time and again dispelled my initial fears and proven what an incredible human being he is and how much love and care he has not only for Judaism but for each and every one of his students as well.”

Unlike most people, Berkowitz noted, Rav Bina “often does not make a good first impression; however, the more one gets to know him, you realize how kind and caring he is.”

The other writers also noted that what they had heard about Rav Bina in advance of meeting him made them cautious, but that he proved to be warm, insightful, compassionate and devoted to each of his students.

‘Red Flags’

Could the same rabbi be so kind and attentive to some students and controlling of others?

One American rabbi, who asked to remain nameless here, said the negative stories he has heard over the years are “very troubling” to him and that he is certain at least some of them are true. But he said Rav Bina “has helped so many” students and “puts more care into each kid than anybody” that he himself continues to recommend the yeshiva, except for “emotionally fragile” young men.

Dr. Michelle Friedman, a Manhattan psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who directs the pastoral counseling program at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, says she has heard a number of disturbing stories about Rav Bina over the years.

She has written professionally about what she calls “the power and peril of rabbinic charisma,” and speaks of the need for a rabbi’s self-awareness about his or her control over congregants or students, as well as the importance of establishing boundaries.

She questions why parents who are “so concerned about the quality of the food and laundry service” at Israeli yeshivas where they send their children are not more involved in choosing the right psychological environment.

“You’re sending your child thousands of miles away for a year in late adolescence for an intense, isolated experience,” she said, and yet she finds “an unquestioning reverence for what goes on there. It just amazes me.”

In regards to reports about Rav Bina, she asked: “Why are we so accepting? Are we so fearful of critiquing authority? Do parents think, ‘he’s doing a great job, and if we criticize it we’ll be on the outside,’ so they just say nothing?”

Friedman says the hazing analogy, comparing Rav Bina’s technique to an army drill sergeant, doesn’t hold up.

“The assumption is that hazing is somehow necessary for the end product,” she said. “But what about the fallout and destruction wrought by the hazing? What about the impact on the other students who witness it and remain passive? Maybe they figure, ‘he’s a great rabbi, I better not say anything.’”

A number of the students interviewed here said they had heard about Rav Bina’s unusual behavior but were advised, as one said, “if you keep away from him you can have a positive experience” in the yeshiva.

Another said his parents were taken with the Old City setting, the assurance that the students would be safe, with strict curfews, and the reassurance that so many other American students were attending.

The mother of “Andrew,” the boy who alleges Rav Bina slapped him, said that on meeting Rav Bina in the U.S. when he was recruiting, “he came across as eccentric but very grandfatherly.

“We talked to many boys who went there, and they told us, ‘just follow the rules” and steer clear of Rav Bina.

“How we didn’t get it, I just don’t know,” she said ruefully. “We should have seen the red flags.”

How parents make choices is critical for Michelle Friedman. “Maybe the rabbi has a good heart. But if he were, for example, driving a car recklessly, wouldn’t we say something? In this case his words and actions can be dangerous and are antithetical to his Torah. Why don’t people challenge that?”

Yedidya Gorsetman is a senior at Yeshiva University where he is a features editor of The Commentator, the official student newspaper.

Gary Rosenblatt is editor and publisher of The Jewish Week. Ben Sales, former editor of New Voices, contributed to this report.

Last Update:

01/27/2013 - 06:32
abuseRav Aharon Bina, Netiv Aryeh, rosh hayeshiva
The Jewish Week App -- Now Available!
view counter


The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Comment Guidelines

The Jewish Week feels comments create a valuable conversation and wants to feature your thoughts on our website. To make everyone feel welcome, we won't publish comments that are profane, irrelevant, promotional or make personal attacks.

There's no rabbi out there like reb bina..he loves his boys lives 4 his boys,,and devotes his day and night 2 his students..past present and future talmidim..I had a son who went 2 netiv who reb bina tried 2 understand . he still tried 2 make an impact on him..I have another son who I hope will go there 2,,yeshiva netiv aryeah is an amazing spiritual journey staff is fantastic all because of reb bina..spoiled american kids just don't get it..there r rules in life and reb bina tries 2 get that point across..if u can't follow rules u can't listen 2 hashem and you can't be a good husband and I are fortunate and proud 2 be friends of reb bina..

Rav Bina has crossed the line!
Listen to this story that happened to me 3 years ago...
I had some issues with my stomach and the doctors in Israel weren't able to help me. So I went to Rav Bina to ask him what I should do. He viscously picked up two phones at once and called every doctor he knew until he found one that would be able to take me. Rav Bina then told me to go to the doctor and pay whatever the sum may be, and he will pay me back in full when I return. (Does he think I'm a nebach and I can't pay myself? The nerve of him!)
Anyway, on my way to the doctor, I get a call that Rav Bina is making me go to a Gastroenterologist in 3 days to get my stomach checked out. (There goes my free will that Hashem so graciously granted me!)
The day came and I went to the Gastro. It turns out there was nothing wrong (Thank God). Only afterwards I found out that it actually takes 3 months to get an appointment with this doctor because he's one of the best Gastros in the country, and that an appointment with him cost up to 5,000 shekels and I payed 0. (Taking away precious appointments for others who may need him).
This is just one of many horrific stories that come from Rav Bina.
This man must be stopped!!!

Love you Rav Bina. :)

I was very touched by this story. I feel sorry for both the abused students and the rabbi. I think he should not be teaching. The Kotel area is the holiest place in the world. I was a teacher and was tempted to use shock tactics but I didn't.We have already had much worse scandal (sexual scandal) at this location. We can't afford it. Besides the human toll, we must consider that any Chilul Hashem issues are so magnified there. The Muslim world would have a field day if they knew! Let's keep the Kotel area beyond reproach.

It's not the same location. They're two different Yeshivas with two different Rabbeim. Get your facts right.

This kind of behavior and it's soul mate denial are elsewhere in the Modern Orthodox community. My sons attended the Maimonides School in Brookline, MA. My older son was subjected to emotional abuse and then "suspended" indefinitely. Following that my younger son was simply not allowed to come back the following school year. Most of my older son's abuse was at the hands of Rabbi David Shapiro, whom the community knew was abusive yet continued to protect. R. Shapiro preyed on vulnerable families and indeed I was a single mother at the time this happened. The bi-polar behavior and selective abuse and the community's willful ignorance are a very similar story to R. Bina's.

I am a psychologist and special educator in Jerusalem. I have no direct knowledge of what in fact transpires in Rav Bina's yeshiva. However, I am deeply concerned over the Rav Bina controversy. First, any sensitive human being must be deeply troubled by the minority of students who report having been devalued and dehumanized in an institution of Torah learning. "Its ways are ways of pleasantness" and as I gain more experience as an educator, I come to deeply appreciate this truism. Tough love is fine. Dehumanization through ridicule and denigrating labels is not. I cannot verify any of the complaints against Rav Bina, however, I believe as a a community we need to show sensitivity and concern for those who are complaining. Rather than berate or ostracize the "complainers" the Orthodox community needs to establish a support service for them, where they can receive counseling on dealing with their traumatic experiences.

On the other hand, it is clear that dealing with such a sensitive issue via the press is analogous towards performing neurosurgery with a machete. Every educator is exposed to any accusation that any disgruntled student may choose to express. Once the student expresses his perception, the educator's reputation and standing are severely damaged, regardless of the veracity of the student's allegations. the community must develop an unaffiliated panel of leading educators and religious leaders in order to internally investigate allegations in a sensitive and exacting manner. Once this organization is established, its conclusions and steps for tikkun can be publicized and implemented.

We are close to two thousand years into the exile stemming from baseless hatred and lashon hara. In challenging situations, such as the Rav Bina Controversy, we need to tread forcefully yet gently, for our actions literally destroy individual worlds.

Hey there "irritated" - so you think hitting an 18 year old kid is perfectly fine? making them wait for days outside the office sometimes till the early hours of the morning while Rav Bina comes out every now and then and yells at them is perfectly fine? how about all of the information from other posted comments? it's okay to tell a kid that God hates them? it's okay to humiliate a kid in front of everyone? it's okay to tell all the other rebbeim to not talk to the kid - also perfectly fine? how about asking a psychologist to violate confidentiality after you have forced the kid to see said psychologist - also perfectly fine?
Really? you must be kidding. "Irritated", it really doesn't matter if the kid broke a rule - it is immaterial actually. There is no excuse for hitting, humiliating and brainwashing techniques such as forcing kids to sit outside your office for days, and all the other horrible stuff that goes on in that place, etc. Talk about bias - you are hardly the example of objectivity and that is clear.

I was once thrown out of Netiv while visiting my friends and told to go back to my "country club of a yeshiva".

I do not like this article. I write articles. I write them using neutral language, or try my hardest to. to tell a story, to give an honest opinion. So explain to me- quoting a YCT psychologist? REALLY? one who writes articles about the danger of rabbis? why not ask Romney if Obama can be trusted, for a reliable opinion. they dont LIKE EACH OTHER (netiv and yct, at least that is my impression).

And using the word "expelled" multiple times before explaining that it's actually referring to something more like a mild suspension. What do you want from the school? "So, you know I saw you out drinking alcohol, past curfew, in Crack Square? Would you prefer I just wait and not mention anything as long as you flip out before Shavuot? Or I could ignore it entirely if that suits you better." They have rules, they have consequences! Being banned from classes until the student apologize sounds reasonable to me.

One other thing I wanted to say was on this quote:"“I’m off the derech [religious path] now,” he said. “I thought, ‘This is how you treat people as a rabbi in the Old City of Jerusalem?’ This is not for me.” " The boy claims that this one incident with this one rabbi is enough to turn him off religion? Reaaaaally. Of COURSE he has absolutely no issues with Judaism or personal problems and if not for this instance he would still be religious. This rabbi therefore must be the one solely responsible for everything wrong with the world. Pfff, so obvious.

The boy who self-admittedly was deliberately breaking the rules of his school, is a more reliable source than all the many others (who are only quoted way, way down into the article) who support the rabbi? If anything, this article convinced me that Netiv is far too generous in the type of some of boys it accepts, probably in the hope they will turn around and improve, rather than leave in a huff and slander the school.

I've never heard of this rabbi before, although i am familiar with the school. But let me assure you, any concerned Netiv alumni who worry that all outsiders will think terrible things about your school now, let me assure you, that to a reader who can actually recognize obvious bias in a piece of writing, I came out of reading this, pretty sure that this charge is ridiculous and vastly overblown.

I went to Netiv Aryeh and can say that this most likely DID happen . However there are alot of American kids who are brought up JAPPY , ARROGANT , MISGUIDED, and NOT very RELIGOUS . For these people RAV BINA is a last hope , I left the school and to this day regret it seeing how most NETIV ARYEH boys turn out to be great human beings . RAV BINA taught me to be a great human being before being a great JEW . IF you cant handle him just dont go to NETIV ARYEH , but talking so much garbage about him is wrong . TRUST ME HE WAS EXTREMLY RUDE TO ME , however it was a wake up call that NOBODY ELSE in my life gave me

Shame on the community that again ignores a burning fire. Shame on the rabbis, community leaders and politicians who still give the benefit of the doubt to the victimizer rather than the victim. When we will we ever learn? The Lanner travesty was swept under the rug by many of the same persons and organizations who are now looking to dishonestly rehabilitate Rav Bina's true image. How many real and verified witnesses do we need to testify regarding their personal and actual experiences? The serious problem of certain child molesters who hide as Rabbis and other Orthodox Jewish teachers has been whitewashed for far too long. The klal should call for an immediate professional impartial investigation of this matter and publish its findings once concluded. Corrective action would then be a mandate rather than simply a subject for blogs. Anything less is sinful and tragic and would only encourage the criminals amongst us to continue their crimes.

I am the parent of a student who attended Rav Bina's yeshiva while it was still Hakotel. I must say that everything in the article, both good and bad, was true, based on what my son told me. My son told me that Rav Bina was, to be sure, extremely well liked by the students HE liked, but was also one of the most abusive people he had ever met. My son very often describes Rav Bina as a cult leader who is crazy. I am responding because there are two points I would like to make. While it is true that Rav Bina has helped many, he has also harmed many. Judging by the vast number of responses from people who say they were abused, the comments cannot be swept under the rug as the compaints of malcontents. If the ratio of students he has helped to students he has harmed were 100:1, he would still be wrong and I will here and now publicly tell Rav Bina, using his own words, that he will "Burn in Hell" for it.
Secondly, many responders have derided the Jewish Week for not writing a positive article about Rav Bina. To these people, I throw down the following gauntlet. GO AHEAD AND WRITE THAT ARTICLE. I am sure the Jewish Week will gladly publish it if you do.

The Gemara (Bava Metzia, 58b) states that anyone who whitens his fellow's face is considered as if he has killed him. From this Gemara we learn that embarrassing someone is like killing them. In explaining the severity of embarrassing another, the Gemara (Bava Metzia, 59a) states "it is better to throw oneself in a lit furnace than to make someone blush." Rav Bina must have forgotten those two dafs of the Gemara.

Unfortunately you people just don't get it. It doesn't matter if "Andrew" broke a rule, or if he ended up sleeping in a bar on Ben Yehuda all night and stank of gin. Rav Bina had no right to touch him, or to bully him. And, knowing another Rav Bina victim who is a very good kid, I can tell you that these kids have scars that last a very long time and it is inexcusable - even if they broke a rule. Rav Bina did not seem to care about these kids; they were just so much collateral damage. He never tried to talk to them and explain, never tried to make it alright for them. Rav Bina is not the victim here; he is the victimizer. Why don't you have some rachmones on these kids. For those of you young zealots, you must understand that there are too many first hand stories for this not to have truth. It is very unfortunate that his supporters are going on blind faith and not realizing that a man who does great things is also capable of doing lots of bad things. Denying these things happened, explaining them away as being the "method" is just plain missing the point. From now on if this is so much his "method" and everyone believes in it then it should be advertised as such.

What a disgusting smear article full of hate and lies.

So, we all see what an anonymous talmid who seems to have gotten in trouble for doing nothing less than breaking the yeshiva rules and going to a bar on Ben Yehuda says. Obviously, someone like that is going to make claims and spread lies for the sake of feeling a little better about themselves and "getting back" at Rav Bina for getting him in trouble.

If any honest person wants to know what the manhig ha'dor, Moreinu Rebbe David Abuchazteira Shlit"a thinks about Rav Bina, they can listen to this starting from minute 15:20.

And don't think that Rav Abuchatzeira doesn't know Rav Bina well -- he knows Rav Bina EXTREMELY well and considers Rav Bina to be his closest friend, a tremendous tzaddik and the best Rosh Yeshiva around. And many many many other gedolim and tzaddikim feel the same way.

Rav Bina is the epitome of truth and love for all Jews. It is very obvious that a good portion of the comments posted here against the Rosh Yeshiva Shlit"a are posted by the same person with a terrible agenda. If I would be able to speak to everyone reading/posting any of these nasty comments, I would be able to point out all of the obvious lies and fallacies. Unfortunately, all I can do is post a simple message here and it would be impossible to show the truth about this whole unfortunate and disgraceful situation that Rosenblatt and Gorsetman (and "Andrew") have created.

Deborah Lipstadt's letter to The Jewish Week in response to the recent article about Rav Aaron Bina (“Has The ‘Tough Love’ Rebbe Gone Too Far?” Jan. 27) is frankly even more outrageous and outlandish than the article itself. Ms. Lipstadt is a respected historian who has been attacked by other historians for the veracity of her work. As such, she should know that prior to making conclusions one has a duty to investigate the truth and check all sources and not merely rely on what others state. Yet Ms. Lipstadt, incredibly, defers to the "evidence" in the defamatory article (written by people who did not attend his yeshiva and which cites to unverified sources) about Rav Bina to conclude that he was abusive. Shame on Ms. Lipstadt for not standing by her principles as a historian.

I attended Yeshivat Hakotel from 1995-1996, when Rav Bina was head of the overseas program. While I was not personally close with him, I saw the tremendous positive impact that he had on many of my friends and acquaintances at the yeshiva. Far from being abusive, he was personable and encouraged each student to be the best person and Jew that they could be. His pedagogical approach was unique and certainly not for everyone. However, Rav Bina frankly was and is an antidote to the contemporary phenomenon of spoiled, overprivileged American Jewish teenagers who are used to being told by their parents that they can do no wrong. In a time when there are many real problems in the Jewish community, The Jewish Week's arbitrary decision to target Rav Bina is simply despicable.

Netanel Newberger

To "Hakotel 1990 - you are right":

First of all -- your posts must sound like a joke to anybody that reads it.

If what you are claiming is true, I think it would be important for you to publicize which rabbis and "people that knew him "while he was enrolled in all of the esteemed institutions" that I mentioned told you that he is "a boor and his knowledge of Torah is embarrassing."

Which "person that knew him" in Ponovich in the 1960s told this to you? Was it Rav Shach himself? Maybe the Ponovicher Rav? Who do you know that was learning in Rav Zolty's kollel with Rav Bina that made this claim? Did Rav Ovadia call you on the phone and tell you that the smicha he gave to Rav Bina was only because Rav Bina is the son of an esteemed European Rav? Did Rav Unterman and Rav Tinivansky tell you the same thing but that he is really a "boor and his knowledge of Torah is embarrassing?"

It's unfortunate that there are so many liars out there...

Moshe, as someone who was fairly serious during my time at Hakotel and is even more seriously committed today I will reiterate: The man is the proverbial "Ish ba'ar lo yeda" in other words he is a boor and his knowledge of Torah is embarrassing. I only say that it is embarrassing based on what I have heard from other rabbis and from people that knew him while he was enrolled in all of the esteemed institutions you listed above.

It is a sad testament to a "rabbi" when his Torah-credentials do not stem from things people have heard from his mouth (take a test: find a Bina supporter and ask for any "chiddushey Torah" they have EVER heard from his mouth) but rather from the institutions he was enrolled in while being the son of a respected European Rav.

I have never met a "rabbi" of any stripe that was more vile and repugnant and/or less knowledgeable than this joke of a mechanech is.

Jews are so funny- anything for some juicy goss on someone precious and respected in the Jewish world. For a change, don't allow rumours to decide for you. Until you meet the legend that is Rav Bina yourself keep your thoughts to yourself because this expressed inaccuracy isn't helping anyone.

And just to share a little story, when I was looking at yeshivos I was told by another rosh yeshiva that Rav Bina is the best mechanech (educator) in the world and that he could make a yeshiva in the wilderness and it would still be successful!!

O well..... small people and their big mouths....

I don't think I have in many years read such slander against a good and honourable man. From someone who had been on the receiving end of more than their fair share of comments, what people fail to realise is this is only done for your best interest and you may only realise this once you have left and look back at the time you spent at Netiv Aryeh.
From an outsiders point of view Rav Binas methods may be strange and out of the ordinary but there is no doubting the fact they have proven to work for tens of thousands of students over many decades.

When people decide where they wish to go for Yeshiva they have many options and if there is no façade on what you are going to get when you go to Netiv, it is 'exactly what is says on the tin'.

Don't hate a man because you can't understand his ways, just ask all the alumni who you will find don't all get on and have a relationship with Rav Bina but the vast majority will fight tooth and nail to oppose articles of this nature and stand up for a man who is possibly the best educator in the world.

Articles like this shouldn't see the light of day...don't judge a man based on comments from a few bad eggs, have your glass half full rather then half empty and look at all the wonderful things Rav Bina has accomplished and lives he has changed for the better.
The truth about Rav Bina.

I love Rav Bina. Why would you people be so mean to such a gr8 man who has done so much good for some people. He gives tzedakkah and he learns torah. Enough said!

Comment: The Giants Rule!!!!

I would just like to second what Hakotel 1990 said about Bina being an across-the-board bad man on every level.

The man does NOT have a high IQ and is unquestionably NOT a talmid chochom. I imagine he is in the bottom 2% of torah knowledge possessors in Yerushalayim. His "halacha shiur" consisted of calling people out and castigating them publicly and his actual "iyun shiur" in the morning was oftentimes NOT attended by HE HIMSELF and when he was there he would talk to guys and/or berate people. I can honestly say I may have heard less than a few hours of torah out of his mouth during my time there.

He is a bad man and probably the least personable/likable person I have ever met in my life. If I met him randomly in Manhattan without knowing he was a "rabbi" or even Jewish I would say to myself "what a jerk".

To "Hakotel 1990 - you are right":

You said "The man does NOT have a high IQ and is unquestionably NOT a talmid chochom. I imagine he is in the bottom 2% of torah knowledge possessors in Yerushalayim."

What is his IQ since I see you have the results of his IQ test? And he is unquestionably not a talmid chochom? So why do all of gedolei yisrael think otherwise?

You are correct that it is only your warped imagination that he is in the bottom 2% of Torah knowledge possessors in Yerushalaim. I wish that 98% of Yerushalaim had the Torah knowledge of someone who learned in the Ponovich kollel for 10 years under the Ponovicher Rav, Rav Shach, Rav Shmuel Rozofsky, Rav Dovid Povarsky and the other gedolim of the past. Not to mention being in the YU kollel elyon under Rav Soloveitchik. And I wish 98% of Yerushalaim learned in Kollel for several years under the reverred Rav Betzalel Zolty and had smicha from Rav Ovadia Yosef, Rav Unterman AND Rav Shlomo Tinivansky (the Rosh Beis Din of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem at the time). Yerushalaim would be in a much better place today if 98% of its residents possessed more Torah knowledge than a GAON like Rav Bina.

It is possible that your claim that you "can honestly say I may have heard less than a few hours of torah out of his mouth during my time there." Maybe you should have spent less time in bars on Ben Yehuda and more time in the beis medrash -- because I learned countless hours and hours and hours of beautiful pearls of Torah from this tremendous talmid chochom.

Dear Zionist Hater:

1st of all, thanx Ben for that response to the tax comment, I wasn't quite sure how to respond to that. You sound like your proud of the fact that you guys mooch off of governments. You should be ashamed of it! It's the Chareidim that are holding back the moshiach. And is there any chance you'd be able to point me to the exact article from Ha'aretz where they had this "poll." Im pretty curious how you respond to this.

To the commenter from 2/2/2012 at 15:11:

Based on Scott Goldberg's apparent refusal to speak to the Jewish Week about the nature of his review of YNA, the article's assertion that the family in the case was not questioned, and YU's apparent ignorance of any grievances post 2010, I for one am not satisfied that YU has conducted anything approaching a "thorough, independent, professionally run investigation/audit." However, indeed, if YU feels that they have conducted a thorough enough investigation that they are now willing to stake their reputation on Rav Bina's innocence, they should say so. But if not, then they should conduct one. Bottom line: I think that YU owes the community an absolute assurance that it has conducted or will conduct a thorough investigation, that it is willing to describe on the record, and upon which it is willing to stake its reputation.

You don't remember what year it was? Come on now I really want to believe you but I have no reason to

you WANT to beleive him? why? do you seek the truth or do you have an agenda to produce evidence against Rav Bina? So all this guy Joseph had to do was pick the right year and then you would've believed him?

view counter