Why BJJers only Date Guys From Ponovezh


By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5tjt.com

Do you know “Why BJJers only Date guys From Ponovezh?”

BJJ, or Beis Jaakov Jerusalem, is considered one of the leading seminaries in Eretz Yisroel.   Also known as Machon Sarah Schneirer, it is located in the Unsdorf neighborhood of Jerusalem. BJJ was launched in the early 1970’s as a program for American high school graduates, and, over the years, it helped fund a seminary education for tens of thousands of Israeli Bais Yaakov girls.  The founding menaheles, Rebbetzin Bruria David, is the daughter of Rav Yitzchok Hutner zt”l, the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Chaim Berlin.  Each year, BJJ accepts approximately 180 young women.  The seminary also provides professional training toward a teaching degree. Rebbetzin David interviews each applicant to maintain the school’s reputation as one of the “elite” institutions in the Haredi world.

The Ponevezh Yeshiva was founded in 1908, in the Lithuanian part of Tsarist Russia, and is now located in Bnei Brak, Eretz Yisroel since 1944. It is considered one of the leading Litvish yeshivos in Israel.

And while it is not true that BJJers only date guys from Ponevezh, it is important to know “why BJJers only date guys from Ponevezh” (more on this later).


The question is, when one has a platter of the seven fruits of Eretz Yisroel in front of him – which of them do we recite the blessing upon first?

There is a pasuk in parshas Aikev (Dvarim 8:8) that praises Eretz Yisroel for its seven species.

“A land of wheat and barley, grapes, figs and pomegranates; a land of olives that produce oil and honey [of dates].”

These are the seven products of which the land of Eretz Yisroel is praised, and because of that – these seven products have a special and elevated status.  They are also enumerated in a special, yet somewhat complicated, order.


The Gemorah tells us that the word “land” or Eretz, resets the order – so to speak, in terms of which one of the seven we recite the blessing upon first.  So let’s look at this pasuk as having part A and part B.

  • Part A would be: “A land of wheat and barley, grapes, figs and pomegranates;”
  • Part B would be: “a land of olives that produce oil and honey [of dates].”

Now let’s number them:

  • “A land of wheat and barley (A1a, A1b), grapes (A3), figs (A4) and pomegranates (A5);”
  • “a land of olives (B1) that produce oil and honey [of dates] (B2).”

Based upon the idea that the word “Eretz” resets the count, but that Part A has precedence over Part B of the pasuk – the order of the brachos of the 7 products of Eretz Yisroel would be:

A1a, A1b, B1, B2, A3, A4, A5

A1a and A1b – wheat and barley, are, according to most Poskim, both part of A1 and wheat has precedence to barley because it is more important.  As far as the other grains are concerned, Spelt is like wheat only spelt differently, and oats and rye are like barley.

The order of the seven products of Eretz Yisroel would thus be as follows: Wheat, barley, olives, dates, grapes, figs, and pomegranates.


So what does all of this have to do with our question of, “Why BJJers only date guys from Ponevezh?”  And how is that it is important to know this question, but that it is a non-true assertion?  How could it be?

The answer is that the whole question is just a mnemonic device to remember the order of brachos of the zayin minim.  Why stands for wheat.  BJJers stands for barley.  Only stands for olives. Dates stands for, well, dates.  Guys stands for grapes or gefen. From stands for figs.  And Ponevezh stands for pomegranates.


The underlying factor here is the concept of giving a blessing its due honor.  On account of this idea, it should also be noted that if there is an array of any fruits –

  • the bracha is recited upon the whole one first – regardless of whether it is of the seven minim.
  • If you like one of the non-seven fruits better, then that one gets precedence too (Chaviv).
  • The fact that it is of the seven fruits is only the third factor – it comes after shalaim (whole) and chaviv (better liked).
  • A fourth factor (when dealing with HaAitz and HaAdama foods) is the size of the slices. It is more kavod to the bracha to recite it on a larger slice, all of the other factors considered.


This mnemonic device was created with neither the permission of BJJ nor the permission of Ponevezhs, and the author apologizes if anyone is offended.  It is just that a brief survey has shown this author that many people are unaware of the actual order of the bracha.  It was thought that this mnemonic device would help increase awareness of hilchos brachos.

The author can be reached at [email protected]

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  1. According to my estimable rebbitzen, two important points need to be made.
    First, BJJers only date guys from Brisk.
    Second, the reason that BJJers only date guys from Brisk is that BJJers know how to learn and the guys from Brisk know how to cook.

  2. So instead of clickbait headlines, we get an article arranged around the clickbait. The informative nature of the article is good. Also, I regret to say, I didn’t have the discipline to avoid clicking on it. But what does it say about society? Sad but true.

  3. So, in other words, he wrote a halacha article while violating MiDivar Sheker Tirchak.

    I guess sheker isn’t an issue here since it’s not a Sefas Tamim article?

    It would be more in keeping with the Torah to come up with an acronym that is either total nonsense or simply true.

    For example, for the order of operations, there is an acronym PEMDAS. Some schools teach that as “Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally”. This is, of course, nonsense, because almost nobody has any aunt by that name, so everyone knows that this is just an expression, unlike the author’s example here.

  4. More correct to write ‘Why Briskers Only Date Girls From Pennsylvania’
    I don’t think a single BJJ girl dated a Ponivihzer in the last 30 years, there are no American bochurim in Ponivezh these days, that’s why they are dating the Briskers.