Monday, December 27, 2004

derech eretz kadmah l'Torah department: fistfights result in hospitalization of yeshiva student punctuates ongoing rift threatening Ponevezh yeshiva

5 Comments:

At 5:25 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1104035116321

Ponevezh rift climaxes in fistfight
By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
Dec. 26, 2004 Updated Dec. 27, 2004

Fistfights that resulted in the hospitalization of a yeshiva student on Sunday punctuated the ongoing rift that threatens to tear apart Ponevezh, a Bnei Brak yeshiva that is considered one of the country's most illustrious.

Rabbi Haim Peretz Berman's bodyguards pummeled Rabbi Shmuel Markovitz's supporters, who tried to stop Berman from giving his 12 o'clock Talmud lesson, his second as cohead – with Markovitz – of Ponevezh.

Rabbi Eliezer Kahaneman, the yeshiva's president, had warned that he would expel any student who attempted to disrupt Berman's lesson. Markovitz's supporters consequently recruited yeshiva students from outside Ponevezh.

A power struggle, the seeds of which were sown in 1969 when Rabbi Avraham Kahaneman became president, reached new heights after the death two weeks ago of Rabbi Shlomo Berman, one of Ponevezh's joint heads, and the appointment of his son, Haim Peretz, last week.

The appointment of the younger Berman by some of the leading Lithuanian rabbis of the haredi world, who are not part of the Ponevezh faculty, escalated tensions between two camps within the yeshiva.

The camps are headed, respectively, by the son and the son-in-law of Rabbi Avraham Kahaneman, himself the son of Ponevezh's founder, Rabbi Shalom Yosef Kahaneman.

The son, Rabbi Eliezer Kahaneman, is pitted against the son-in-law, Rabbi Shmuel Markovitz, one of two younger heads of the yeshiva. Kahaneman and Markovitz are each trying to gain control over Ponevezh.

Rabbi Eliezer Schach, the former head of Ponevezh, was the undisputed spiritual leader of the haredi Lithuanian world until his death in 2001. But the power struggle is liable to result in the ultimate split of Ponevezh into two separate yeshivot.

Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, one of Ponevezh's two elder yeshiva heads and a supporter of Kahaneman, organized a petition several months ago calling for Ponevezh to split. An Edelstein supporter told The Jerusalem Post that 800 of Ponevezh's 1,000 students signed it.

The balance of power backing the two rivals is fairly even, which has resulted in a long and bitter struggle.

Both of the two elder heads of the yeshiva, Edelstein and Rabbi Baruch Dov Fovarsky, support Kahaneman.

However, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, the preeminent halachic authority for the Lithuanian haredi community, has expressed his support for Markovitz.

In addition, a special rabbinic court, headed by Rabbi Haim Tzimbolist, decided five years ago that Markovitz has a legitimate right to inherit a position as a cohead of Ponevezh.

In contrast, Rabbi Haim Kanyevsky, Rabbi Michal Yehuda Lefkovitz and Rabbi Nissim Karelitz, all highly respected halachic authorities and spiritual leaders, have voiced their support for Kahaneman. They backed the appointment of Berman, which was seen as an attempt to push Markovitz out of the yeshiva. Berman and Markovitz are the two younger heads of yeshiva.

Ponevezh was founded in Bnei Brak in the late 1940s. It was headed by three illustrious rabbis: Shmuel Rozovsky, David Fovarsky and Eliezer Schach.

In 1969, Kahaneman's son Avraham took over as president. His daughter, Tzipora, married Markovitz. His son, Eliezer, eventually became president.

After Schach died, the power struggle heated up, with Aharon Leib Steinman, a leading spiritual leader in the haredi Lithuanian camp, attempting, with little success, to patch up differences.

 
At 11:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is an amazing parallel taking place here. For decades the Ponevezher Rosh Yeshiva and the Lubavitcher Rebbe were at odds with each other hashkafa-ically (is that a real word? Bleah!). Unfortunately, this meant that their disciples treated the "others" with utmost disdain and disrespect. Now, that the leaders are gone the culture of disrespect and even of violence is turning inward in both of these camps (this story juxtaposes perfectly with last week's story about the memorial plaque at 770).

 
At 11:54 AM, Blogger Reb Yudel said...

Jeffrey Rubinstein argues in The Culture of the Babylonian Talmud that this sort of mutual respect among Torah scholars goes back to the earlies Gaonic academies, and is reflected in the repeated Talmudic warnings against the dangers of Torah scholars who disrespect each other.

In other words, nothing new here. This is how Talmud students have always acted.

 
At 9:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is just a struggle of parties who are looking for position. It has nothing to do with the dis respect of Talmudic scholars. That was a urgency to do what is right accordinng to the torah. This is just a jump for position. Like the rabbis said they should split the yeshivah and go to a different yeshivah. what would change if that would happen?

 
At 9:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is just a struggle of parties who are looking for position. It has nothing to do with the dis respect of Talmudic scholars. That was a urgency to do what is right accordinng to the torah. This is just a jump for position. Like the rabbis said they should split the yeshivah and go to a different yeshivah. what would change if that would happen?

 

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