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||The Prohibition of Leaving Eretz Yisrael||Several sources imply that one is forbidden to leave Eretz Israel for Chutz La-aretz. The Gemara in Ketubot 111a relates...||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||Women's Obligation to Light Chanuka Candles||Halakhot of Chanuka|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Forbidden Matza||Halakhot of Pesach|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||The Mitzva to Eat Maror||Halakhot of Pesach|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Two Aspects of the Mitzva of Counting the Omer||Halakhot of Sefirat HaOmer|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Shaking the Lulav During Hallel||Halakhot of the Four Species|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Travelling and the Mitzva of Sukka||Halakhot of the Sukka|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Torah Study in the Sukka||Halakhot of the Sukka|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||The Mitzva of 'Shabbaton' on Yom Ha-Kippurim||Halakhot of Yom Kippur|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Jerusalem: Between Holiness and Purity||Holiday Packages|
|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 Multifaceted Relationship between Jerusalem and the Land of Israel||Holiday Packages|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||ASARA BE-TEVET 5775: The Power of a Single Word||The Gemara in Ta'anit (12b) describes the order to be followed on a fast day as follows: Abaye said: From morning to midday they look into the affairs of the city; from then onwards they read for a quarter of the day from the Torah and the Prophets and the rest of the day [is spent] in praying for mercy.||Holiday Packages|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Survival and Fulfillment - Thoughts on Yom HaAtzma'ut||The Torah describes two journeys of aliya undertaken by Avraham to reach the land of Canaan. On the first journey, described at the end of Parashat Noach, Avraham sets out of his own free will.||Holiday Packages|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||On Aliya: The Uniqueness of Living in Eretz Yisrael||Parashat Vayeshev begins: “Yaakov settled in the land of his father’s dwelling, in the land of Canaan” (Bereishit 37:1). What need is there for the seeming repetition about where he dwelt?||Holiday Packages|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||“When You Come into the Land”||Holiday Packages|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Historical Uniqueness and Daily Service||In order to better understand the nature of Chanuka, let us examine the original “Chanuka” – the dedication of the Mishkan in the desert.||Holiday Packages|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||"Because They Partook of the Feast of the Wicked One"||Holiday Packages|