Students

If you are a former student of Rabbi Aharon Bina, please consider posting your experience below.
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“I came to Israel in 1998 to work on being a better Jew; Rav Bina made me in to a self-hating one instead.”

E.C.
Student, Yeshivat Hakotel, 1998/99

Rav Bina made my life miserable for 6 months. I was a quiet kid but Rav Bina called me horrible names all year…. I had enough after 6 months. I left! I don’t consider myself frum today. I came to Israel in 1998 to work on being a better Jew; Rav Bina made me in to a self hating one instead.
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“Rav’s Bina’s behavior is abusive and damaging. Not only did he not influence me positively to religion, the opposite happened and for a very long time after that I was completely turned off to Yiddishkeit. I’ve long since found my way back.”

Joel (Yoel) Moskowitz
Student, Yeshivat Hakotel, 1980/81

My name is Yoel Moskowitz.  When I was 16 my mother passed away from cancer. My father, very shortly after, remarried. The trauma of my mother’s death and my father’s remarriage were too much for me and I felt that I needed to get away. I flew to Israel to study at Yeshivat Hakotel and I started Rav Bina’s program in Israel.

My father, being concerned about me, made sure that Rav Bina knew about my situation. But Rav Bina was concerned only about my learning Torah and he thought the best way to motivate me to learn Torah was by constantly picking on me. His favorite thing to do was to constantly call on me in class to prove that I was unprepared. He would then call me names like “idiot” and publicly humiliate me.

The situation came to a head one day in gemarah shiur. Out of the blue, Rav Bina said: “If a man gets married again after his wife died, then this shows he never loved his first wife.” I was shocked. I raised my hand to speak. But Rav Bina did not let me speak, he said: “I know your situation Moskowitz. Shut up! I no talk about you.”  He continued on and on. I was really upset and I left the shiur.

Later that day, Rav Bina approaches me in Beit Medrash and says, “Moskowitz, if you took it personal, then you bigger idiot than I thought you were.” My response to him is what got me thrown out.

As a parent who has sent one child to Israel so far, for a year post high school, we trust that the school the child comes from has vetted the institution in Israel, that the Jewish Agency, the Rabbinical Council of America, or that Bnei Akiva had done the same as well. Wrong!

Rav’s Bina’s behavior is abusive and damaging. Not only did he not influence me positively to religion, the opposite happened and for a very long time after that I was completely turned off to Yiddishkeit. I’ve long since found my way back.  What is shocking but not surprising is that 29 years after my story, there are still more stories coming out about Rav Bina.

It’s inconceivable that this his behavior had been tolerated by laypeople and the leaders of the Jewish community for so long and that yeshiva high schools in the US know about Bina, This is reminiscent of all the other instances of the head-in-the-sand attitude in the Orthodox community toward abuse, albeit emotional and not physical.

Boys that go to an Israeli yeshiva to learn for a year are between 17 -18 years old. Old enough to go away but young enough to still be victims of abuse. I hope someone in the Jewish community will take a stand so Rav Bina is not given the opportunity to hurt anyone else.
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“Most of Rav  Bina’s comments seemed to be a sort of comedic mockery of the religious values he was trying to espouse.”

Eric Horwitz
Student, Yeshivat Hakotel 1985/86

I attended Yeshivat Hakotel in 1985 and 1986.  I have no issue with Rav Bina.  I sort of found him funny and most of Rav Bina’s comments seemed to be a sort of comedic mockery of the religious values he was trying to espouse.  He called a boy who wore a yamalka with playboy bunnies as a logo “a fake jew.”  Well given the tenets of Judaism, he was kind of right. So has Rav Bina gave voice to the things that the Torah says, like you have committed a grave sin if you are a homosexual, Yes, that is what the Torah says.

So I say he is just a mirror reflecting back at you, what the tenets of orthodoxy believe, and the tactics he uses, are the tactics that have been used for 2,000 years by teachers and parents.

He still has a job, because people want him to do what he is doing.  He was cruel to me, but not as cruel as my community, my family, my friends, because he said what they were thinking and he acted out what others were doing. It is so hard to imagine that the Jews that are victims, could be victimizer, but we can.

So lets not indict him, lets look at the tenets of our faith, and the way we use this 6,000 year old book written by bedouins in a desert to raise our children, and then search your own heart and soul and before you send your children out of their home, check to see if there house is a safe place before you lay blame on someone else.

I am not defending one of his actions or his behavior, but if you are adhering to your religious faith without question, than you are defending him with your complicity.

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“I sent an e-mail to my parents begging to switch out using a Netiv computer during my free time. Turns out, all outgoing e-mail from student computers is CENSORED! It was read by a madrich and shown to Rav Bina. Netiv Aryeh was and remains the single worst and most humiliating experience of my life… Mister Bina’s obsession over homosexuality creeped me out.”

Reuven D.
Student, Netiv Aryeh 2004

My name is Reuven D and Netiv Aryeh was and remains the single worst and most humiliating experience of my life. I attended the program in 2004, and I do have to say that my time there made me significantly less religious as it caused me to lose a great deal of respect and question whether I could fit into the Orthodox community if people like Mister Bina weren’t only granted smicha but perceived as one of the most amazing educators of his generation.

At the time, I thought Mister Bina was nothing more than a cruel dictator… Rather than building trust with the student, and gradually teaching him love for the mitzvot, Mister Bina prefers to immediately offer the student an ultimatum — follow these precise steps and never be unique or I will publicly ridicule you and if that doesn’t work, perhaps resort to physical abuse.

While I do understand the principles of shomer negiah, being segregated entirely to the Rova and not being allowed to have any sort of legitimate private interaction/conversation with girls combined with Mister Bina’s obsession over homosexuality creeped me out.

I sent an e-mail to my parents begging to switch out using a Netiv computer during my free time. Turns out, all outgoing e-mail from student computers is CENSORED! It was read by a madrich and shown to Rav Bina. Rav Bina often made fun of me for 5-10 minutes at the morning shiur, and while this clearly crossed boundaries, I was never the most sensitive guy in the world and ignored it. This time, however, he crossed a point I can’t forgive. He went on a tangent about how I’m a curse, and forbid any student from being friends with me, threatening their souls would become as cursed as mine.

One morning at 5 AM, a madrich far larger than myself pulls me out of bed and questions me about a shaving razor he found going through my stuff… He shoves me. I shove him back. He punches me in the face….I switched to a different program a few days later.

My life has went on, but the experiences I endured at Netiv will forever leave a taint on my comfort living in Israel, and I still feel humiliated by the things Mister Bina did to me. Mister Bina is a sick man, and I’m sure that Ha Kadosh Baruch Hu will judge him leniently for all those good Jews he made question their faith as a result of his mental health.
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I fail to see how telling someone they are going to hell 47 times, getting divorced 52 times, and that they’re gay, or as bad a shvarze, is going to help someone be a better person. It’s degradation.

STUDENT
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“Rabbis in American high schools who behave similar to Rav Bina would have been fired in a minute.”

Rav Bina told us that he would be lecturing to us on Shmirat Shabbat K’hilchata. We went out and purchased the two-volume set and made sure to bring it to Halacha Shiur but we almost never opened it. Instead of informing us about Halacha, Rav Bina would typically spend the hour taking roll and stopping whenever he got to someone whom he wanted to talk about. It was essentially public judgment hour. You weren’t sure when your number would be called, but unless Rav Bina loved you, you could be pretty certain he would call you out sooner or later…

Other students got it much worse, absorbing insults about obesity, “defects” in their souls, attitudinal problems, misbehavior, future divorces, etc. There really is no end to the list; it extended to whatever lewd, demented, and often baseless insults Rav Bina could imagine. Rav Bina claimed a Godlike ability to know people’s souls, and their deep personality flaws, simply by looking into their eyes. If he’d spoken to you once, he felt competent to issue public proclamations on your character.

Rav Bina maintains power by claiming that he has unusual insight into personalities. People then trust him to hand down Yom HaDin-like ethical evaluations on students’ characters. Instead of developing nuanced, interested, accepting approaches to different students’ personalities, as many good teachers do, Rav Bina quickly torrents down acerbic critiques or lofty laudations on them.

Since the bulk of Rav Bina’s ill public treatment of students happens in Halacha Shiur, parents and prospective students should be able to watch it. It would give them an exact idea of what happens in Yeshiva, much more so than superficial recruiting interactions with Netiv Aryeh rebbeim ever could. They will see how Rav Bina uses his time with his students to criticize and insult students, not to educate them about Shabbat, which is the stated subject of the shiur.

Rabbis in American high schools who behave similar to Rav Bina would have been fired in a minute.  But there is no accountability 6,000 miles away. It’s long past time for them to see the Rav Bina experience first-hand.

STUDENT

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“Rav Bina is an abusive man.”

I too attended Rav Bina’s school and had a horrible experience filled with public humiliation, double standards, mind-games, spying and ultimately expulsion. Although I have only recently happened upon your blog and have not read each and every post, I can attest to the fact that you are not only accurate, but not in the least bit exaggerative as well.

I am a teacher by profession and I know I would rightly be fired it I habitually conducted myself the way Aharon Bina does with students. I am confused that some of these same modern-orthodox parents who demand perfection, sensitivity from us teachers, who freak out at the slightest accidental misstep by their teachers would continue to allow themselves to be fleeced into sending their children to this school and then turn a blind eye to what really goes on.

I am further baffled by the common line “He has un-orthodox methods” or “He does a lot of good too.” Rav Bina is an abusive man and yes, he may have gentler side but that doesn’t negate the harm he has done.

STUDENT
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The only way to hopefully stop the abuse that goes on at Netiv is by targeting the NY Jewish high schools. If you have a bad experience, make sure to share it with younger siblings, friends, guys at kiddish club. Hopefully parents will hear about Netiv and they will send their kids elsewhere.

Kol Kalifornia

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Rav Bina is like a Cabernet wine, an acquired taste that for whatever reason is so in vogue even people who dislike it feel obligated to say they like it because they’re afraid to voice a dissenting view. But taste isn’t the only reason he’s like a Cabernet, he’s also like a Cabernet because once he stains a boys neshoma with that abusive drivel,  that some people seem to view as part of his “charm,” that stain becomes very difficult to remove.

This emotional tearing down to (re)build up is actually very successful. It worked for Reverend Moon, Jim Jones, etc., but why isn’t he held accountable for what he tells these kids? Would we tolerate those kind of mean spirited, abusive comments directed at our kids if they came from someone in our shul or a family friend? (regardless of the intention).

Doubtful and even if we are ok with it and turn the other cheek because “That’s Rav Bina”, I now hear his son Chanan has stepped into the role as well it’s like dual abuse tag team. Chanan radiates the kind of bullying wannabe frustration that comes from knowing you don’t have the mental or persona firepower of your father yet you’re living in his shadow and judged by his standards–gives whole new meaning to big shoes to fill.

STUDENT

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“Rav Bina is a very sick, bad man.”

I am a South African living in London, I am in my 30’s, and I have no axe to grind. I came across this site after meeting Rav Taragin this Shabbos in London and recalling my experiences in Yeshivat Hakotel. I clearly remember the horrors of my 2 months in Yeshivat Hakotel about 20 years ago.

My parents were in education, which entitled me to a subsidized tuition. Rav Bina used to come into the ‘beis hamedrash’ every day and announce in front of everyone ‘remember, we are doing you a favor!’  Not an easy thing to put up with surrounded by rich Americans, and certainly not at 18 years old

Rav Bina used to walk around with a stick in those days, whilst I never saw him use it, it is clearly not a normal thing for a ‘Rosh Yeshiva’ to do. Rav Bina’s lapdog, an agro Israeli, I think his name was Ari, once hit me after I had an argument with my roommate, this caused me to leave the Yeshiva, and go to a proper Yeshiva in the Negev.

After I had left, Rav Bina was insulted and made sure that a fellow South African told everyone back home that I had been expelled. This was not true, and for a young kid at the time was very traumatic and damaging to my reputation

There were many other incidents but these stick out. I hated my time there… I think Rav Bina is a very sick, bad man. He is also infatuated with people with money, and with few exceptions, his ‘pets’ were always very wealthy. Anyone sending their children to Rav Binas Yeshiva should watch out, it takes a long time to get over the damage that he can do!

STUDENT

London, England

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The stuff Rav Bina does indefinitely constitutes abuse as it is damaging to the students, and is done with the intent to cause damage. As somebody who was the focus of many public rants (told I was going to hell, told I’d be a gigolo, told I’d get divorced 8 times and told I’d be homeless), I think I’m probably in the minority who didn’t have “long term psychological effects” at the hand of Bina’s comments.

… his comments did turn off me off of Orthodoxy and the fact he is so respected in the community is what turns me off. I wasn’t one of those pretentious kids who said, “Haha. How dare you make fun of me. I’m not gonna be Jewish now.” It was more just that I was appalled by how I was treated, and I was regarded higher in the secular academic circuit. I figured if he is considered a great man by the Orthodox then Orthodoxy isn’t for me.

One thing not taken into account here is the context in which Bina passes his arbitrary judgments. In the professional world, if you can’t take criticism, you’re done. If Bina calls you into his office, and says, “You. You’re a bum. You’re going to Hell” — it’s rough… he says this stuff publicly, which in my opinion has no more of an effect in changing a student than saying it privately.

Moreover, you must take into account that his audience are eighteen year old kids. Regardless of Orthodoxy, these are not Rabbis or mature scholars. These are children, and they are going to behave like children. The receptee of the comments, in turn, does have to deal with public ridicule.

STUDENT

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As somebody going into law, I can safely say that if Netiv operated in its current state in America, it would be shut down. The madrichim are sometimes instructed by Bina personally to assault a student.

I am a peaceful man who has only been in one fist fight my entire life, and that was in self defense in which I was forced to hurt another Jew. I am appalled that I had to hit another Jew to protect myself, and do have some hatred towards Rav Bina for making me have to raise my fist to another Jew.

… there is a significant risk involved in sending your child to Netiv… The end simply does not justify the means here.
STUDENT
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“The man is an outright disgusting and terrible human being.”

Bina recklessly disregards and intentionally hurts student’s feeling to the point that they are in need of serious psychological help. The man is an outright disgusting and terrible human being– on a very simple human level. Taking Judaism and his being an educator out of the equation I have never met an adult in my life that acted in such a horrible way to another individual (whether it be student, peer, colleague, parent, child, classmate etc…)

Bina defenders give off the impression that they believe that the man is not just good but he is the savior of humanity and without him who knows what would have become of so many confused youth whom Bina “literally saved their lives.” You are hereby given permission to remove your heads from the sand. There are plenty of other Rebbeim in both Israel and America that can have and have had an extremely positive effect on student’s that need help. In fact, there are yeshivos that are devoted to this kind of care.

STUDENT
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I was going to stay the year, but I left earlier because I could not take the man. I stopped learning because he turned me off due to his verbal abuse. I haven’t learnt since. (It’s been over 5 years). I’m not rich so it was inevitable he would pick on me.
STUDENT
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The book Off the Derech by Faranak Margolese argues that one of the primary reasons for going off the derech is bad experiences with Jewish educators. If you find it hard to understand why this is so, read the book. This book got good reviews from Rav Schachter.
F

StsSTUDENT
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Anyone who has spent time with Bina knows what happens behind those walls. The fear and humiliation. The false adulation of an obvious complete am ha’aretz because of fear intimidation was the norm. He abused staff as well as students. He is the biggest tragedy of Jewish education in the last 40 years. I hope somehow this blog brings this evil man down.
STUDENT

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During davening a student asked another student what page they were on. As a punishment for talking, Rav Bina made the student sit near the Aron Kodesh for 4 hours. Sounds inspirational.
STUDENT (Netiv Aryeh, 2008)

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“There is no need to play the “which is worse” game between sexual and emotional abuse; they are both abhorrent, and someone who has been inflicting either of them for as long as Rav Bina has needs to be held accountable.”

I went to Yeshivat HaKotel several years ago while Rav Bina was still there, Things started off great. As one of the few rookie shana alef guys attending minyan and shiur regularly and on time, I quickly caught Rav Bina’s attention, and in a positive way. In his infinite wisdom, he predicted that I would one day be a great talmid chochom, but to achieve such heights, I would have to cut off ties with my closest friends. I thanked him for his kind words, but ultimately dismissed his suggestion. That was my first “mistake.”

My second mistake came about a month later. Rav Nebenzahl, bless his heart, taught a mandatory Sunday morning shiur that, for the life of me, I just couldn’t understand. Maybe it was his accent, his broken English, or just the ideas he was conveying, but as sweet and intelligent as the man was, I felt that there were more productive ways for me to spend that hour. Unfortunately, I made the reasonable (or so I thought) assumption that chazering gemara in the Beis would serve as a suitable alternative to attending his shiur. A couple of months into the year, I acted on that assumption: my second “mistake.”

These “mistakes” ultimately cost me my “future talmid chochom” title, but more importantly, resulted in the cruelest humiliation I have ever experienced, and eventually got me expelled from yeshiva.

Since the catalog of insults shared by Rav Bina and Uri Kari doesn’t vary much from student to student, and most of them have already been cited in other comments and posts, I won’t rehash them here. Suffice it to say, I’ve heard them all.

What was unique in my case was the expulsion. When it finally happened, my fellow students were as stunned as I was. Some guys are expelled for disrespectful behavior, others for violating some cardinal sin. I was expelled because I dismissed a silly suggestion and broke–with the best intentions–what amounts to not much more than an arbitrary rule.

But I couldn’t accept it; the prospect of being expelled from yeshiva was too shameful and painful to bear. I begged Rav Bina to let me stay. I apologized ad nauseum (for what, I am still unsure) and begged him for forgiveness. Needless to say, the groveling was futile. All I’d wanted to do was learn Torah, but when I informed Rav Bina of my hope to stay Shana Bet, he laughed at me. When I attended the prospective Shana Bet student meeting, I was summarily–and humiliatingly–expelled.

In any event, I took my learning too seriously to let Rav Bina and Uri Kari dictate its terms by expelling me. I had paid my tuition in full and had done nothing wrong: I refused to leave. There were 2 months remaining in the year, and I resolved to spend them learning as much Torah as I could, despite what Rav Bina and Uri Kari had to say on the matter. And they had plenty to say. Directly and through emissaries (including not only the madrichim but my astonishingly willing rebbeim), I was informed that security was going to drag me from the building, that the police were going to drag me from the building, and that my life would be ruined if I didn’t follow Rav Bina’s order to leave. In any event, I was forbidden from attending shiur, forbidden from entering the Beis, and forbidden from even eating in the Chadar Ochel.

Eventually, with my ability to learn hindered, I chose to leave the yeshiva and stay with friends at another. A few weeks passed and, on Yom Yerushalaim, I joined my new yeshiva for a march into the Old City and shacharis vatikin at the Kotel. Afterward, the yeshiva went for a hike up north; I opted to stick around the Rova and spend time with my friends. Toward the end of the day, unable to get in touch with my friends from the new yeshiva (because of cell tower problems resulting from the crowding of Yerushalaim), a HaKotel friend suggested I spend the night there. I was afraid. He insisted that it wouldn’t be a big deal if I explained my situation to Rav Bina.

He was wrong. On Rav Bina’s orders, I was escorted from the building by an admirably reluctant and remorseful madrich (he allowed me to return to my room to get my tefillin and a sweatshirt). With the buses not running anymore and not enough money on me to pay for a cab, I had no choice: I parked myself on the front steps of the yeshiva and lay down to sleep.

Within minutes, another madrich was outside demanding I leave. But I had nowhere to go. (And besides, I was on public property.) He called Rav Bina to inform him of the situation. Rav Bina refused to let me back into the yeshiva, even for one night. Nor would he loan me the money to pay for a cab back to my yeshiva. Instead, I was again informed that I would have to leave. I reiterated the point that I simply could not carry out his demand. Another call with Rav Bina followed. There was an offer: I could sleep on his couch, but he would not say a word to me or even acknowledge my presence, and I’d have to be out first thing in the morning. I asked the madrich to thank Rav Bina for the generous offer, but I was going to stay put. Fearful of the negative impression the image of a student sleeping in the doorway of his yeshiva would have upon visitors and passersby, Rav Bina finally acquiesced: he’d pay for my cab.

It took me years to resolve what happened to me that year, why I was the one chosen for Rav Bina’s legendary bullying. Only after countless discussions with other HaKotel and Netiv Aryeh alumni did I understand the truth. Rav Bina simply doesn’t possess the talent to inspire students to learn Torah and love Yiddishkeit; instead, he resorts to fear-mongering. With that strategy in mind, he chooses 10-15 sacrificial lambs per year to humiliate as an example in order to keep the rest of his students in line. The nominees are usually chosen arbitrarily, though it is rare (if not unheard of) for a wealthy or well-connected student to be among them.

Fortunately, as I noted above, Rav Bina’s misdeeds didn’t traumatize me in the way it did others, and for that I am lucky. But the fact that I didn’t suffer any permanent emotional scars doesn’t absolve him for what he did to me and for the others who have written here. YU needs to do to Netiv Aryeh what it did to Derech Etz Chaim and cut off ties. There is no need to play the “which is worse” game between sexual and emotional abuse; they are both abhorrent, and someone who has been inflicting either of them for as long as Rav Bina has needs to be held accountable. At the very least, he needs to be removed from his perch of power.

STUDENT

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…atrocious behavior that occurred daily at that institution. At the time I also felt that it was simply “tough love.” It took me a long time to realize that certain behaviors have no place at an institution of learning. The fact that, “Rav Bina is dealing with over a hundred kids each year, many of which come from religiously lacking backgrounds,” is absolutely no excuse for emotionally berating and physically abusing students.

I will attest that I have never seen Rav Bina strike a student himself; however, I have countless times seen either Uri or one of the other Rabbis or Madrichs do so with Rav Bina’s full knowledge. The most shocking thing here is that you believe that this is simply done, “To set up an institution where a boy is given the ability to see Jewish religious life and he (R. Bina) believes is should be lived.” I must assume that you also believe this is the way Jewish religious life should be lived. If this institution where a Rabbi is a student’s only direct line to God and the Rabbi possess the power to determine if a boy is “A good boy” or a “Nazi in Gods eyes”, I am repulsed by this so called “Jewish Religious Life.”

PARENT
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I’ll never forget that Sunday evening shana alef shiur when I was finishing up my shnaim mikra for the day and Bina began to hurl insults such as “baal gaavah”, “piece of garbage”, and “you think you are better than everyone else” as well as the disturbing “G-d hates you” condemnation.

I was publicly humiliated. Bina’s actions, as described in my story and by others in this forum, are reprehensible and can only be compared to those of a belligerent infant in a sandbox. Bina acts like a baby in diapers. It wasn’t until going to Yeshiva Netiv Aryeh that I had ever met someone of his age, let alone a “Rosh Yeshiva”, who could act so immaturely.

Before going to YNA I was told that in using his methods Bina “knows best” for the boys. Let it be known to any potential victims of Bina’s brainwashing that there is no sechel, bina or daat in his methods. Bina understands nothing. His actions are shameful and irresponsible. I want to commend the person who created this blog and encourage all those who have been hurt by this man to write down their experiences in hopes that this man is exposed for the malicious, corrupt person that he is.

Student
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Stupid and Insulting Comments Rav Bina Makes

  1. 1. “If you have girlfriend and say you are shomer negiah, az you are lying or you are GAY!”

If you’re not lying… you’re GAY!  You’re gay.  Gay gay gay gay gay.  Is it really so bad?  In Rav Bina’s mind, he has just called you the worst thing possible.  It’s basically equivalent to him calling you out for bestiality or incest.  .  I happen to know at least one person at Hakotel who came out gay afterward; had he been gay at Hakotel and not had thick, elephant-like skin, I imagine he would have been pretty upset that Rav Bina was condemning homosexuality in such stark terms.  I’m sure it wouldn’t have been anything new to him.  Gay orthodox Jews have a pretty tough time.

2.   “Shloimie, you were late to Shacharit.  Az this is worse than eating cheeseburger with a naked shiksa on Yom Kippur.”

There are many variants of this kal vachomer, none of which make any sense.  Rav Bina’s defenders state that he is just speaking rhetorically, exaggerating for pedagogical effect.  This would of course be a valid defense, provided that Rav Bina were speaking to a room full of mentally incompetent people.

Rav Bina angrily criticizes students for minor infractions, while accepting large contributions from individuals who make their money from comparatively enormous moral, ethical and religious infractions.   He blinds his students to true moral and halachic differentiation by constantly spitting out the positively stupid idea that all sins are sinful and therefore equally wrong, and that if you do anything minor, you should feel as much guilt as if you’d killed a village of Rwandans (for which he might feel little guilt, as they are all what he calls “schwarzes.”

b. It shows Rav Bina’s total fundamentalism.  His is a system where minor infractions (the equivalent of jaywalking) are not allowed, because they are wrong. It doesn’t matter why they are wrong, they are simply wrong.  And once you have done something wrong, that is it, you are a sinner.  He does not bother to consider that someone might have a very good reason for being five minutes late for shacharit.  He never considers the relative utility of coming late to shacharit and, let’s say, taking care of your sick friend.

He never does this because he never listens.  In one of my first encounters with him early in the year, I had come to night seder a couple of minutes late, and I had a good reason for it.   He approached me, and I thought he would be friendly, because I’d never really spoken with him before, and he yelled at me in a shrill voice “Why did you not come till now!?”  I answered “I was here a couple of minutes late and -“. He cut me off.  “Don’t make excuses,” he cried.  I told him I wasn’t making excuses, I was simply explaining what happened.  He started screaming like “LA LA LA LA LA LA” style and he wouldn’t listen to me.  He told me a Talmid doesn’t talk back to a Rav.  My chevrusa immediately told me never to speak back to him.  I told him I wasn’t speaking back, I was just explaining myself.  He said, “that’s not how he hears it. To him, everything is an excuse, and he just doesn’t care.”  In shock, I wondered if later I might approach him and explain my situation.  I tried, and he just looked flustered, as if in total disbelief that I was going to try to address him again.  He shut me down again and said I was disrespectful for bringing this up.  Had I not heard him the first time?  I learned my lesson and from then on didn’t speak back to him.

Rav Bina has no patience for excuses because to him, you are either doing things correctly and exactly as he says or you are evil.   This is demeaning, it’s obstinate and simple-minded, and ultimately it creates a barrier of communication between him and his students.  It perpetuates the notion that he’s constantly judging you, and it shows you that you don’t have the right ever to speak to him, because whatever you’re going to say is probably lies and excuses.  I felt for many years that I needed to explain myself properly to Rav Bina, because even after Yeshiva I held on to some shred of a thought that he was a great moral and spiritual authority.   It drove me bananas that he would never listen to me.  I wish I’d just learned sooner that he was in GWB’s megalomania state of denial.  To paraphrase Colbert: “He believes the same things about his students on Wednesday as he believed on Monday, no matter what they told him on Tuesday.”

Elisha made comment at 5:24 PM
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If parents were around to see what Rav Bina does, many would withdraw their children immediately.  I’m sure some would consider filing lawsuits.

Rav Bina keeps a 220 pound gun-toting henchman around school.   Uri Kari was a Yeshiva administrator back when I was there; his current title is Director of Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh.  Uri is a gruff guy and when Rav Bina condemns students publicly, Uri is dispatched to deal with them.

The reason Uri carries a gun is ostensibly to protect the yeshiva from attack, but it also produces the side effect of intimidating yeshiva students.  You eventually get used to it, but when you first see a barrel-chested Israeli military reservist walking around your school with a gun, it draws your attention.

When Rav Bina criticizes a student, he sticks to verbal attacks, so he counts on Uri to back him up with demonstrations of physical force.  Uri’s techniques are not brutal: the most they’ll ever involve is him grabbing you, or a blood vessel-bursting cheek pinch, or a series of open-palmed slaps in the face and chin.  They are intended to keep students in line. But they are enough to cause shock.  Never in my educational experience to that point or since have have I seen had a teacher lain hands on a student.

If Uri did what he did in an American public school or university, he would be fired or suspended.  But in Hakotel, what he did was de rigueur.  If a day passed without Uri slapping someone, people started to wonder if he was feeling alright.  Multiple people transferred out of Yeshiva to other more humane Yeshivot because they could not believe that this type of treatment was accepted… if parents were around to see what he does, many would withdraw their children immediately.  I’m sure some would consider filing lawsuits.
STUDENT made comment Tuesday, April 28, 2009

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