Rabbi Dr. Aharon Lichtenstein was born on 28 Iyar 5693 (May24, 1933) in France. In 1940, several months after the Nazi conquest of France, his family managed to escape to the United States. In his youth, he was recognized as an outstanding student at Yeshivat Rabbi Chaim Berlin, where he studied under Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner zt”l. He continued his studies at Yeshiva University under Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik zt”l, who granted him rabbinic ordination. In 1960, he married Rabbi Soloveitchik’s daughter, Dr. Tovah Lichtenstein.
In 1957, he completed a doctorate in English Literature at Harvard University, after which he returned to Yeshiva University to serve as an instructor in Talmud and as rosh kollel at Yeshiva University’s affiliated Yeshivat Rabbeinu Yitzchak Elchanan.
In 1970, Rabbi Yehuda Amital zt”l invited Rabbi Lichtenstein to serve as co-rosh yeshiva of the recently-established Yeshivat Har Etzion in Alon Shevut, Israel. Rabbi Lichtenstein accepted the offer and made aliya with his family in 1971. They served together as rashei yeshiva for four decades and taught thousands of students, among them many rabbis and educators. Rabbi Lichtenstein also served as rector of Herzog College and as rosh kollel of Yeshiva University’s Gruss Institute in Jerusalem. He resided in Jerusalem from the time of his aliya until 2006, when he and his wife moved to Alon Shevut in Gush Etzion, near Yeshivat Har Etzion. In 2011 he announced his retirement from daily teaching, and devoted himself mainly to writing.
Throughout his career, Rabbi Lichtenstein combined sovereign mastery of the vast expanses of Torah knowledge with breathtaking analytic depth and sharpness. His diligence in Torah study, day and night, was legendary. Hundreds of his students became rashei yeshiva and rabbis in Israel and throughout the world. Yet alongside his genuine Torah greatness, he was renowned for his deep humility, nobility and love of humanity.
Over the years, Rabbi Lichtenstein published many articles on Talmud, Halakha and philosophy. Many of these were collected in his books Minchat Aviv and the eight-volume series Shiurei HaRav Aharon Lichtenstein on the Talmud, as well as in his books on Jewish thought and ethics Leaves of Faith (2 volumes), Varieties of Jewish Experience, By His Light: Character and Values in the Service of God, and in the recent series of interviews by Rabbi Chaim Sabato, Mevakshei Panekha. On Yom HaAtzmaut 2014 he was awarded Israel’s highest honor, the Israel Prize, for his extensive and varied Torah literature. He also was awarded the Rav Kook Prize for Torah Literature in 2013 for his volumes on the Talmud. The award committee’s decision declared that “In these books, Rabbi Lichtenstein brings the Brisker conceptual method of Torah study to its highest luster, to deep and impressive fulfillment, opening up methods of traditional Talmudic analysis for the current generation.”
Rabbi Lichtenstein passed away on Rosh Chodesh Iyar 5775 at the age of 81 and was buried on Har HaMenuchot in Jerusalem.
Rabbi Lichtenstein leaves behind his wife, Dr. Tovah Lichtenstein, six children all of whom are involved in Jewish education, including head of Yeshivat Har Etzion Rabbi Mosheh Lichtenstein and head of the Women’s Beit Midrash in Migdal Oz Mrs. Esti Rosenberg, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Read more.
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|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Shimur Matza||Rava states (Pesachim 40a) that it is a mitzva to pre-wash the grain that one intends to use for baking matza (letita). This is based on the pasuk (Shemot 12:17): "U-SHEMARTEM et ha-matzot - And you shall GUARD the matzot" (ensuring that they do not become chametz).||Halakhic Essays of Harav Aharon Lichtenstein (5776)|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Forbidden Matza||Irrespective of any practical applications, the issue in and of itself touches upon a number of important and fundamental principles regarding the laws of chametz and matza...||Halakhic Essays of Harav Aharon Lichtenstein (5776)|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Individual Rights in Halakha||We have gathered here to discuss the rights of the individual under Halakhic, American, and Israeli law. I have been asked to describe the Halakhic approach.||Halakhic Essays of Harav Aharon Lichtenstein (5776)|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Does Involvement in Torah Study Exempt One from Mitzvot? (Part 1 of 2)||It is commonly assumed that the exemption from mitzvot (on the basis of involvement in another mitzva) takes effect only with regard to someone involved in a mitzva act – but not to one involved in Torah study.||Halakhic Essays of Harav Aharon Lichtenstein (5776)|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Does Involvement in Torah Study Exempt One from Mitzvot? Part 2||It is commonly assumed that the exemption from mitzvot (on the basis of involvement in another mitzva) takes effect only with regard to someone involved in a mitzva act – but not to one involved in Torah study. Part 2 of this essay.||Halakhic Essays of Harav Aharon Lichtenstein (5776)|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Kiddush Hashem: Sanctifying God's Name (Part 1 of 2)||The mitzva of "kiddush Hashem" (literally, "sanctifying God's Name") and the prohibition of "chillul Hashem" (literally, "desecrating God's Name") appear in several contexts.||Halakhic Essays of Harav Aharon Lichtenstein (5776)|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Kiddush Hashem: Sanctifying God's Name Part 2||The mitzva of "kiddush Hashem" (literally, "sanctifying God's Name") and the prohibition of "chillul Hashem" (literally, "desecrating God's Name") appear in several contexts. Part 2.||Halakhic Essays of Harav Aharon Lichtenstein (5776)|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Why Did Moshe Desire to Enter the Land?||Which mitzvot did Moshe wish to fulfill upon entry into the land? The conventional understanding is that he was referring to the "commandments dependent upon the land" – terumot and ma'asrot, challa, etc. However, upon further consideration, it seems that Moshe might have been referring to other mitzvot, not those traditionally defined as falling into the category of those "dependent on the land" in the narrow sense of the term.||Holiday Packages|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||The Relationship Between Shofar and Prayer||The shofar blasts and the prayers can be viewed as two factors “competing” for primacy. But they can also be seen as a couple walking together, each giving strength to the other, and both together leading to a stronger and richer fulfillment of standing before God.||Holiday Packages|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||"As If He Had Gone Out Himself:" Integrating Past, Present and Future in Observing Yom Ha-aztma'ut||Sichot Roshei Yeshiva|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Fig Leaves and Coats of Skins||“And they sewed fig leaves together and made for themselves loincloths.” (Bereishit 3:7); “And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife coats of skins, and He clothed them.” (3:21). Before man embarks on his new, long road, God equips him with coats of skins, which envelop him with new dignity and beauty and transform him into a new person.||Sichot Roshei Yeshiva|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||The Story of Kayin and Hevel||Sichot Roshei Yeshiva|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Noach's Downfall||Sichot Roshei Yeshiva|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||"Man Was Born To Labor"||Sichot Roshei Yeshiva|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||The Efficiacy of Prayer||Sichot Roshei Yeshiva|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||"These are the Generations of Noach"||Sichot Roshei Yeshiva|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||A Comparison of Noach and Moshe||Sichot Roshei Yeshiva|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Avraham the "Ivri"||Sichot Roshei Yeshiva|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Man of Spirit, Man of Action||Sichot Roshei Yeshiva|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||"And He Called out in the Name of God"||Sichot Roshei Yeshiva|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Avraham's Fear and Our Complacency||Sichot Roshei Yeshiva|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||God of Heaven and Earth||Sichot Roshei Yeshiva|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Avraham's Two Wars||Sichot Roshei Yeshiva|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||The Uniqueness of Avraham||The Amida prayer opens with a blessing of "Our God and God of our fathers; God of Avraham, God of Yitzchak, and God of Yaakov."||Sichot Roshei Yeshiva|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||"And You Shall Be a Blessing"||Sichot Roshei Yeshiva|