Saturday, March 30, 2013

Ponevezh Time Movie: A Disturbing Glimpse

Sir, - 'Ponevezh Time,' the film made by Yehonatan Indursky, provides us with an intimate, yet obviously caring look into one of the haredi world's most prestigious bastions of study. Indursky, who from the age of 16 spent three years at the Ponevezh Yeshiva in Bnei Brak, brings an insider's knowledge to his portrayal, together with a great measure of empathy and understanding. However, his film alerts us to a number of serious concerns that are common to huge institutions, be they haredi or secular. 
click here to view full trailer
The most blatant of the concerns begins with the circumstances that caused Indursky himself to feel compelled to leave the Yeshiva that he so much admired. He relates the feeling of being "utterly at sea there" and "on your own, with no one to turn to." Did this most respected institution maintain an atmosphere that valued excellence in Torah studies above the emotional health and well-being of the individual student? 

In view of the fact that most of those who enter Ponevezh are of adolescent age -- and are thereby afflicted and conflicted with much inner emotional turmoil regarding their religious, theological, sexual, economic, social, and military behavior -- it would seem that a major priority would be a staff that combined great Torah knowledge with a warmth of personality to provide a responsive ear and understanding for their concerns.
The great Torah sages throughout Jewish history knew how to combine their brilliance in Torah with brilliance of character -- along with a deep understanding of the human condition -- so they were successful at imparting their love of learning to their disciples with warmth, acceptance, and love. 

Petach Tikva