Rav Gershon Ribner: Justifying the Practice of Nepotism Prevalent in All Yeshivos

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  1. Horav Yitzchok Hutner zt’l gave over the yeshiva to yibadle Chaim tovim Horav Ahron Shechter shlita. The Rosh Yeshiva shlita gave over the yeshiva to his eidem shlita as opposed to his son.

  2. Rabbi Ribner’s justification boils down to 2 points
    1 only the son or offspring will give his all to continue the ancestor’s yeshiva
    2 the Chofez Chaim chose his son-in-law over Reb Iser Zelman even though his son-in-law couldn’t hold a candle to Reb Iser Zalman, and that is because his duty to his children takes precedence over his duty to the Klal

    My Take
    The first point, which may be true in most cases, only explains why the son should take over the running of the yeshiva, not the shiur.
    the 2nd point, which justifies handing over the shiur to someone who is clearly less capable, is puzzling. the question about nepotism in yeshivas is all about assuming that yeshiva is not “his”, it is built by raising money from the community, so how does the founder’s duty to his family come into play. It’s like saying since I have a duty to my family more than to the community, I will take my shul’s chairs home if my family needs chairs!

    • (1)There is no taking over the Yeshiva without giving the shiur. Being the money Rosh Yeshiva and administrator doesn’t even give you the ABILITY to make sure the Yeshiva sticks around and does well

      (2)Taking over the Yeshiva is an intangible goodwill value that no one else donated. Therefore the Rosh Yeshiva has the right to give it over.

      Years ago I thought nepotism in Yeshiva was a bad idea . But then when I saw how quick hired people are to abandon a Yeshiva when demographic or other external factors cause it’s decline as opposed to the Mesirus Nefesh sons have to keep the Yeshiva going and doing well I changed my mind

      • (1) Reb Lipa Margolis in Torah Temina, Reb Moishe Feigelstock (Tiferes Elimelch), Reb Mendel Slomowitz (Toras Chaim, Reb Mendel Rabinowitz (keren), etc. etc. etc. etc., proved otherwise – they produced very successful yeshivos without giving the shiur

        (2) Your right – chairs and running the yeshiva are not the same. But the point still remains – all that the yeshiva owns was made possible only through the community, with the understanding that teh rosh yeshiva will decide what’s best for the yeshiva. How can the rosh yeshiva make a decision that will have a significant impact based on what’s best for his family but to the detriment of the yeshiva if he was entrusted to make decisions based on whats best for the yeshiva???????????

    • Regarding your first point, you are correct, that actually is what often ends up happening. The son takes over the running of the Yeshiva, and hires a maggid shiur to give the shiur.
      Regarding your second point:
      Klal yisroel needs both types of yeshivos, ‘A’ and ‘B’. Now that the Rosh Yeshiva will no longer be able to fill his role and needs to bring in a replacement, he allowed to choose to turn it into a ‘b’ yeshiva because it is better for his family, as long as this is also a need for klal yisroel, and the ‘A’ talmidim will have an ‘A’ yeshiva to go to. And the reason why he is free to determine what type of yeshiva to have based on his personal achrayos to his family is because this particular Yeshiva is his own zechus for harbatzas hatorah. Imagine you go to a big Rosh Yeshiva in Lakewood and tell him you found a different talmid chacham who says a better shiur. Does he have to step down and give his position to the other talmid chacham? Or is it self-understood that the zechus of harbatzas hatorah of this makom torah belongs to the founder, and it is his right keep it and to be moresh it as long as by doing so he is fulfilling a Torah need in klal yisroel, and everyone will have a place to learn at their level.

  3. this type of mindset is morally and financially bankrupting our community

    my rebbi used to say
    the purpose (tachlis) of the yeshiva is for the boys ..
    nowhere does the speaker take into account the welfare of the talmidim

  4. They have to first and foremost worry about their own children.
    But they can’t at the same time go around Schnoring for the Yeshiva saying that it’s Klal Yisroel’s Yeshiva.

  5. There is one only major Yeshiva in America that is community owned and has no nepotism. (they actually have a policy
    that the founders descendant can NOT get shtellers there)

  6. I respectfully disagree. As noted by others, a Yeshiva is to teach and grow the students , not to guarantee work for the family.

  7. Maybe the Ch Ch Ztl could not give it to R IZ because he promised it already to his aidem and could not go back on his word ?
    Who could know what the circumstances and his reasoning’s were ?
    You cant build new haloches on such stories ……

  8. Rav Ribner shlit”a is a leading thinker in the yeshivishe velt, who has what to say, and whom I enjoy listening to at times. But there is a difference between different sources, for example things he saw or heard directly, and things that went through others, which might have not been fully understood, or transmitted 100% accurately, by people with less discernment and meticulousness.

    I would think that the story related to Radin should be treated as if in the latter category, and not be treated as “miSinai”. There may have been other factors involved that were not known to the people speaking about it many years later, and certainly not to one that just overheard them.

    On another matter, the term nepotism has a strong pejorative connotation nowadays, and should be avoided, לענ”ד.

  9. Aha. So Matzav is now getting all sanctimonious and not allowing comments they are to dumb and ignorant to understand. Okay. Shows how mature you are.

  10. To: Yeshiva Rabbinu Chaim Berlin
    It wasn’t RYH’s Yeshiva to begin with to give away…

    As to RGR’s answer here, let me preface with the fact that I am a big fan and respect him.
    The first part of his answer had his usual unique slant on things, very interesting.
    He did, however, seem to leave out the halacha in Shulchan Aruch, that positions go beyerusha if the son is ra’ui lechach, capable of the job. Even not the best. Just capable. (Sometimes the father Rosh Yeshiva was far from the best too…) Even if someone else owns the yeshiva, and an employee rebbe is niftar, that rebbe’s son can claim the position if he too is capable.
    However, I must say, the 2nd part about Radin and RIZM z”l etc… not only were there mistakes, practically every single sentence was wrong wrong wrong erroneous!!


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