The perennial controversy over the Mormon Church performing posthumous proxy baptisms on Jews is not only back in the news this week, but highlighting two people who are iconic symbols in their respective religions.
On Tuesday, Elie Wiesel, the Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace laureate, called on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to urge his fellow church leaders to stop performing the proxy baptisms.
One of the outcomes of the controversy over Rav Aharon Bina and his Netiv Aryeh yeshiva in Jerusalem is the increased attention focused on the fact that teens who spend a year in Israel are to a large degree on their own, with their parents often in the dark about the policies and intellectual and emotional environment of the institutions where they have sent their children.
After the opening declaration of the Ten Commandments, “I am the Lord your God,” we get action. All the commandments mandate some behavior: keeping the Sabbath, honoring parents and so forth. Then comes the final commandment — “Do not covet.” This is not a behavioral prescription. How can the Torah tell us what to feel?
Amid all the discussion and debate these days over how to talk about Israel publicly without making things worse — that is, exacerbating the divide between left and right — there is one group that has a proven track record of framing tough issues in a sophisticated, nuanced and creative way to foster substantive dialogue.
If it’s true that Rav Bina publicly shames certain students whom he believes he needs to discipline, the issue is clear: time and again Jewish law forbids public humiliation — no ifs, ands or buts. See Rabbi Daniel Z. Feldman’s scholarly but accessible book, “The Right and the Good, Halakhah and Human Relations.” The first chapter: “Emotional Homicide: Embarrassing Others.” Amazing. How Joseph, the Egyptian viceroy held back from shaming his brothers who either sold him into slavery or left him for dead.
Where do we draw the line between healthy tough love and verbal abuse? Was Rav Bina’s approach, perhaps, a misguided one?
I am torn.
My tendency is to empathize with the victims and feel pained by the stories I’ve heard and the experiences that I myself had to endure when things were less-than-sunny in mine and Rav Bina’s interesting relationship. But I trusted him. I did then. I do now.
The reaction to your coverage of the reported abuse by Rav Aharon Bina was disheartening, although sadly not shocking. The pattern of students standing by their perceived infallibility of their “rebbe” is all too familiar. Since when do good deeds excuse bad ones? I don’t care how many lives he “saved.”
Did Baruch Lanner and Jerry Sandusky abuse every child they met?
The article concerning Rabbi Bina was quite disturbing. Not because of his actions, but because unfortunately, this is a common experience in our yeshivas. What was really upsetting was the reactions and comments of prominent rabbis and educators who admitted they were aware of Rabbi Bina’s actions but were willing to overlook his abusive behavior because of the good he does. I wonder whether they would have a different attitude if Rabbi Bina sexually abused his students instead of mentally and verbally abusing them.
Rav Bina abused other boys, and I smiled as hard as I could, trying to show him that I was his friend. Rav Bina said in shiur [class] that the only good homosexual is a dead homosexual, that the Skokie Yeshiva has killed more Jewish souls than the Holocaust, and to one boy he said, “God hates you,” and I smiled as hard as I could, praying that he would not pick on me next.
Rav Bina threw my friend Eli out of yeshiva in the first month just to show us he was boss, and I stood by and smiled as hard as I could so that I would not be next.
I am a former student of Yeshivat HaKotel and am writing to express my disgust at the hatchet job your newspaper perpetrated against Rabbi Aharon Bina (“Has The ‘Tough Love’ Rebbe Gone Too Far?” Jan. 27).