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.
TO READ HARAV AHARON LICHTENSTEIN'S SEMINAL WORKS, CLICK HERE.
To share your personal recollections, condelences, shiurim or eulogy
Click here for eulogies.
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Seeking the Welfare of Zion and Jerusalem||"For I will restore health to you and I will heal you of your wounds, says the Lord, because they called you 'deserted,' saying: 'This is Zion, whose welfare is sought by none.'" (Yirmiyahu 30:17)||Holiday Packages|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||"Let Us Enter Your Gates"||On Rosh Ha-shana we pray: Today is the birth of the world; today all the creatures of the world will stand for judgment, whether as children or as slaves ... .||Holiday Packages|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||For the Sin of Neglect||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||Hunger for the Word of God||As Jews, we should be animated by a hunger for the word of God. If we do not feel sufficient enthusiasm in Torah study, this can indicate either narrow problems or broader religious and personal issues.||Holiday Packages|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||"Moshe Hid His Face, For He Was Afraid to Look at God"||Both Moshe and Bnei Yisrael recoiled when they encountered God. Was this fear or awe? An examination reveals this question to be pertinent to our lives as well.||Holiday Packages|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Why Learn Gemara?||Judaism places great emphasis on the study of Torah. But why the focus on the realm of Halakha, and specifically the choice of gemara as the central text?||Holiday Packages|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||“The Woods Are Lovely, Dark and Deep”: Reading a Poem by Robert Frost||What is the proper way to relate to an artistic creation? This question is frequently raised by students of literature, and it concerns yeshiva students as well.||Holiday Packages|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Jerusalem of Gold, of Brass, of Light||In this psalm, King David portrays several aspects of Jerusalem: Jerusalem as God's home, as the seat of justice, and as a meeting-point for the tribes of Israel. This chapter deals not only with the nature of Jerusalem itself, but also with the feelings it arouses in the hearts of the pilgrims who arrive there.||Holiday Packages|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Visiting the Temple Mount in Our Time||The issue of visiting the Temple Mount is a somewhat loaded topic. In this shiur, I shall deal exclusively with the halakhic aspects of this issue, and not with its other dimensions, the importance of which should not be treated lightly.||Holiday Packages|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Jerusalem's Two Types of Sanctity, and Their Implications||The Gemara in several places deals with the question whether the "first sanctification" was only temporary or meant to be forever. This question arises both with respect to the sanctity of the land of Israel and with respect to the sanctity of Jerusalem and the Temple.||Holiday Packages|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||"For the Sake of My Brothers... For the Sake of the House of the Lord"||A song, a psalm of the sons of Korach: Great is the Lord, and highly praised, in the city of our God, the mountain of His holiness. Of beautiful situation, the joy of the whole earth – Mount Zion; the sides of the north, the city of the great King… (Tehillim 48:1-3) These verses highlight two aspects of Jerusalem. The first is its esthetic beauty: "Of beautiful situation, the joy of the whole earth." The other is the universal nature: Jerusalem is both ours ("the city of our God") and everybody’s ("the joy of the whole earth").||Holiday Packages|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Yerushalayim, the Joy of the World||Holiday Packages|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Yerushalayim - Seat of Sanctity and Royalty||Holiday Packages|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Mediocre Teshuva and the Teshuva of the Mediocre||The concept of teshuva (repentance) bears a dual aspect. On the one hand, when teshuva is successfully completed, it can have an elitist tinge. As Chazal say, “In the place where ba’alei teshuva (penitents) stand, even the completely righteous cannot stand” (Berakhot 34b, Sanhedrin 99a).||Holiday Packages|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||The Messages of Jerusalem||The Gemara (Bava Kama 82b) lists ten rituals that were not performed in Jerusalem, including the egla arufa (decapitated heifer), declaration of an ir ha-nidachat (idolatrous city), etc. The reason for this unique status was that Jerusalem, unlike all other portions of Eretz Yisrael, was not given to any of the tribes.||Holiday Packages|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||"The Perfection of Beauty:" The Symbolism of Jerusalem and Eretz Yisrael||The book of Tehillim (48:3) describes Jerusalem as being "of panoramic beauty; the joy of the whole world." This relates to two aspects of the city. The "panoramic beauty" expresses its esthetic splendor, while the "joy" describes our experience of Jerusalem.||Holiday Packages|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Seder Zera'im: The Laws Dependent upon the Land of Israel||Holiday Packages|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Mutual Responsibility in the Jewish State||Holiday Packages|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||"As If He Had Gone Out Himself" -||Holiday Packages|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||"Tell His Righteousness to a Born Nation"||Holiday Packages|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||"And You Shall Sanctify the Fiftieth Year"||Holiday Packages|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||"The Eyes of the Lord Your God are Always upon It"||Holiday Packages|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||The Challenges of the Holocaust||The Tenth of Tevet has traditionally been observed as Yom Ha-Kaddish Ha-kelali, the day we recite Kaddish for people whose date of death is unknown. Consequently, many rabbis have designated it as a day of remembrance for the Holocaust. We therefore present here some of Harav Lichtenstein's reflections on the Holocaust.||Jewish Tragedy|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||"Is This Not a Brand Plucked From the Fire?" - Confronting the Aftermath of the Holocaust||Jewish Tragedy|