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||Accepting the Divine Mission||The Exodus and Moshe|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||The Experience of Hakhel||The Holiday of Sukkot|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Judaism and Greek Culture||In general, we tend to view Greek culture as corrupt and sinful. Traditionally, Judaism and the Torah have waged war against it in full fury. What is the argument about? What is the basis of this war?||The Meaning of Chanuka|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||God and Man According to Judaism and Hellenism||There can be no doubt that Greek culture contains great achievements and much content from which to draw, on several levels. The main problem of this culture is therefore not what it contains so much as what it lacks. In the absence of certain things, even the "good" parts become problematic. They lack that feeling of mystery which arises from a perception of man's place vis-a-vis the Holy One.||The Meaning of Chanuka|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||"To Make Them Forget Your Torah and to Divert Them From the Laws of Your Will"||The Meaning of Chanuka|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||The Importance of Preparing the Menora||The days of Chanuka, therefore, shall serve for us as a reminder of the "hadlaka," the light of Torah, and of the "hatava." On a personal, institutional and communal level, we must raise the banner of learning that combines both "hadlaka" and the "hatava."||The Meaning of Chanuka|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Chanuka as a Holiday of Innovation and Renewal||The miracle of Chanuka created within Judaism a great wave of energy, on a scale previously unknown – in terms of development of the Oral Law, in terms of exegesis, and in terms of legislation. In this sense, we publicize not only the miracle itself, but also the great movement forward that came in its wake.||The Meaning of Chanuka|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||The Dual Nature of Chanuka||There are two miraculous events commemorated by Chanuka: ner, the miracle of the oil, and milchama, the military victory. What characterizes each of these miracles?||The Meaning of Chanuka|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Chanuka - The Menora and the War||The joy of Chanuka focuses on two miracles: the miracle of the menora and the miracle of the war. These two elements would seem, at first glance, to contradict one another.||The Meaning of Chanuka|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Religious Faith and Art||At first glance, the question of the Torah's attitude toward art seems to have no basis: religious faith is a set of contents, views and imperatives, associated with one’s subjective intention, whereas art is the work of the artist, driven by his ability and talent.||The Meaning of Chanuka|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Chanuka: Restoration and Innovation||The miracle of Chanuka catalyzed a most significant growth spurt, on an unprecedented scale, within Judaism – in terms of development of the Oral Law, in terms of rabbinic exegesis, and in term of legislation.||The Meaning of Chanuka|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||The Symbolism of the Menora and the Incense||The Meaning of Chanuka|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Studying Greek Wisdom||The Meaning of Chanuka|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Esther's Moral Development - And Ours||The Meaning of Purim|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Who Was Mordekhai?||The Meaning of Purim|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Purim -A Day of Community||The Meaning of Purim|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Learning from Esther||The Meaning of Purim|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||The Dispute Between Mordekhai and the Sanhedrin||The Meaning of Purim|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||"The Meaning of Ta'anit Esther"||The Rambam (Hilkhot Ta’aniyot 1:4) writes that fast days are designated as times for repentance. In the first chapter, he discusses fasts decreed in a time of distress, during which one should cry out to God.||The Meaning of Purim|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||The Sin at the Root of the Purim Story||The Meaning of Purim|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||The Day of Memory and Remembrance||The Meaning of Rosh Hashana|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||The Day of Remembrance||We need to understand the substance of zikkaron.||The Meaning of Rosh Hashana|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||"Lest You Forget What You Have Seen"||The Meaning of Shavuot|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||"The Day that You Stood before the Lord at Chorev"||The Meaning of Shavuot|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||The Challenges of Accepting the Torah||The Meaning of Shavuot|