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In the piyut "Maoz Tzur," it is written

Rav Bonov and his belongings were hung on a tree

Who was this R' Bonov and why was he hanged?


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closed as off-topic by Monica Cellio Mar 27 '16 at 4:47

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I have to admit that the name Rav Bonov was controversial, as I shall explain:

In the paragraph that you alluded to, there is a statement:

ראש ימיני נשאת ואויב שמו מחית רב בניו

You made him a Rosh Yemini. And those that hate his name, Rav Banav, you erased (i.e., you got rid of them.) (In Hebrew poetry as well as frequently in Tanac"h, sometimes, a verb intervenes between the subject and the object, as it does here.)

In many schools, for many years, teachers would force left-handed people to become right-handed (in Hebrew, a ימיני.) Scientific research discovered that this practice was harmful to the left-handed children.

Rav Bonov was a left-handed person who was also forced to become right-handed when he was in Cheder. He became a rebbe of Yeshivat Yemin Moshe, in Jersulem. He was an advocate against this practice of forcing left-handed people to become righties, because he understood how traumatic this was. Thus, the Rosh Yeshiva made him the Rosh Yemini. It's actually a play on words, because it doesn't mean, in this case, "Head of the right". meaning the right-handed people, but rather, "Head of what IS right", meaning "the correct thing to do."

Now, there were many people who still advocated for the previous system, namely forcing everyone to be right handed, and they wanted to get rid of Rav Bonov. They hated him and hated his name mentioned.

Well guess what happened, since they hated his name, they were erased, instead. The yeshiva fired the people who hated Rav Bonov.

By the way, it doesn't say that HE was hanged. It says that his possessions were hung. (You have to read the above with a period after the word "Bonov". See above reading.)

The word עץ, here, doesn't mean "tree". It means "wood". Rav Bonov was a sometimes forgetful man, which is understandable, considering that he become the Rosh Yemini at age 78. Sometimes, he would forget his cane and hat in the room. So, at the end of the day, the Rosh yeshiva came by to check each room, and would just hang his belongings on the piece of wood by the wall.

  • 1
    That's some of the best PTIJ I've read this year. – Noach MiFrankfurt Mar 25 '16 at 21:24
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    @NoachmiFrankfurt Thanks. That's quite a compliment. Something tells me that somewhere in the world, there is or was a real Rav Bonov. For all we know, he lives in Brookline, MA ;-) – DanF Mar 27 '16 at 2:32

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