The most surprising part of the story about Rav Aharon Bina’s alleged emotional abuse of his students at Netiv Aryeh comes from the reactions: It is astounding to see how many people apparently knew this has been going on but continue to sing his praises. This entire episode raises some difficult questions about what is really going on in the yeshiva world.
The Jewish Week article, written by Jewish media veteran Gary Rosenblatt in collaboration with courageous young Yeshiva University journalist Yedidya Gorsetman, catalogues a series of abusive behaviors that Bina allegedly carried out for decades against his students at Netiv Aryeh and before that at Yeshivat Hakotel. (Bina left Hakotel when he was fired by his successor — none other than Rabbi Motti Elon, who was recently indicted for indecent acts against his male students).
Bina reportedly yelled, mocked and systematically disparaged students — some students more than others — as part of his approach of psychological manipulation to gain obedience. Parents, students, and former students describe traumas incurred, and even violence at his hands, which in some cases turned the boys away from Judaism altogether.
Reading the comments on the story and blog posts about it this week, I have found that Bina’s defenders fall into one of two categories: those who deny that this happened, and those who knew but claim that it is part of Bina’s special “methodology” that is based on his love.