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||“Mah Enosh”: Reflections on the Relation between Judaism and Humanism||Well in excess of the several years interlude between composition and publication recommended by Longinus and Cardinal Newman, this essay has been gathering dust—and, possibly, shedding interest and relevance—for almost four decades.|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||The Human and Social Factor in Halakha||Any comprehensive overview of the concern for the human and social factor withn halaka needs to relate, perhaps both substantively and historically, to several planes. We need to consider, first, the primal halakhic core.|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||The Rav at Jubilee: An Appreciation||Any account, testimonial or critical, of the significance of a major spiritual figure must refer to two intersecting axes: the vertical and the horizontaL. On the one hand, he is to be perceived within his own field, as a laborer in its vineyards-relating in part to current peers, but as a link in a historical chain, to be measured primarily against predecessors and successors. On the other hand, he is to be regarded within the ambience of his broader contemporary milieu, with which he interacts and upon which he presumably impacts.|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Vitality in the Service of God||In the final months of his life, Rav Lichtenstein zt”l gave a shiur in his home on Shabbat afternoons to a group of long-time students. What follows is the last shiur Rav Lichtenstein zt”l delivered.|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||The Conceptual Approach to Torah Learning||The Method and Its Prospects|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||THE IDEOLOGY OF HESDER||The Ideology of Hesder: The View from Yeshivat Har Etzion|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Leaves of Faith Volumes 1 and 2|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Seeking Answers With Humility||Adapted from an address by Harav Aharon Lichtenstein. Originally posted in response to Hurricane Sandy This article was featured in Jewish Action Spring 2013.|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Creative Solutions to Educational Challenges: Educational Units based on Rav Aharon Lichtenstein's published essays||Created by Rabbi Yaakov Bieler and his son, Rabbi Dani Bieler (Har Etzion alumnus 1995-1997). In it, the Bielers offer a tribute to Rav Aharon Lichtenstein by means of a series of educational units appropriate for self-study that are based on English language articles authored by Rav Lichtenstein zt"l.|