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||To Cultivate and to Guard: The Universal Duties of Mankind||When seeking to shape our personalities according to Torah values, we must relate to at least three levels of expectation and responsibility.||Developing a Torah Personality|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||In All Your Ways Know Him: Two Modes of Serving God||Developing a Torah Personality|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Mitzva: A Life of Command||Developing a Torah Personality|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Make Your Torah Permanent: The Centrality of Torah Study||Developing a Torah Personality|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Determining Objectives in Religious Growth: Spiritual Specialization or Spiritual Breadth||In charting a course for spiritual growth, a person can choose to follow one of two general paths. On the one hand, a person can assume a more general approach to his or her spiritual existence, trying to encompass the full range of values and to strike some kind of balance between them. Alternatively, one can seek to focus narrowly but intensively upon a particular area.||Developing a Torah Personality|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Being Frum and Being Good: On the Relationship Between Religion and Morality||How are we to understand the relationship between being frum and being good? The answer depends, of course, on how we understand these two terms.||Developing a Torah Personality|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Bittachon: Trust in God||Must a person rely solely on God, or is one permitted to rely upon his or her own abilities?||Developing a Torah Personality|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||I Am with Him in Distress: The Challenges of the Holocaust||The Holocaust raises many intractable questions: What were its historical roots and antecedents? How could such a cultured people commit such a crime? But the question which concerns us principally is the prophetic query echoing throughout the generations, the question of theodicy: Why do the righteous suffer?||Developing a Torah Personality|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||If You Remain Silent at this Time: Concern for the Jewish People||We will all have to ask ourselves the question when the time comes: We could have saved; did we? What will be our answer then? More importantly, what is our answer today?||Developing a Torah Personality|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Teshuva: Repentance and Return||Developing a Torah Personality|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||A Pure Heart: Refining Character and Balancing Values||Developing a Torah Personality|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Centrist Orthodoxy: A Spiritual Accounting||Centrist Orthodoxy finds itself increasingly under attack. While the possibility of attack from both right and left is endemic to centrism by virtue of its dual exposure, the nature and extent of criticism varies.||Developing a Torah Personality|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Educational Programming Which Can Lead to Shabbat Desecration||Informal Jewish educational work often demands dealing with situations that are complex halakhically, spiritually and socially. A common problem arises when arranging Shabbat educational programs for participants who are not Shabbat observant.||Halakhic Essays of Harav Aharon Lichtenstein (5776)|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||The Essence of the Mitzva of Mila||In today's lecture, we shall deal with two fundamental questions regarding the mitzva of mila.||Halakhic Essays of Harav Aharon Lichtenstein (5776)|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||The Responsibilities of the Recipient of Charity||To what degree and by what means should we press for the increased participation of the recipient of aid, and to what extent is it possible to condition the extension of assistance on his readiness to share the burden? Regarding this point, opinions differ, and Judaism’s position on the matter must be clarified.||Halakhic Essays of Harav Aharon Lichtenstein (5776)|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||The Responsibilities of the Recipient of Charity Part 2||Continuation of article by Harav Aharon Lichtenstein zt"l||Halakhic Essays of Harav Aharon Lichtenstein (5776)|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Regarding a Blind Person's Obligation in Mitzvot (Part II)||Chanuka. Mitzvot. In part one, we ended with the question regarding the nature of a blind person's exemption from mitzvot, whether it is based on a leniency or on a deficiency in da'at.||Halakhic Essays of Harav Aharon Lichtenstein (5776)|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Regarding a Blind Person's Obligation in Mitzvot (Part III)||Chanuka. Mitzvot. We ended the last installment of this shiur, with a discussion of a blind person's obligation to light from the position of the Sages. We surveyed various views of the Rishonim as to the relationship between seeing and lighting Chanuka candles. We now continue this discussion.]||Halakhic Essays of Harav Aharon Lichtenstein (5776)|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Birkat Ha-Gomel||The verses upon which the Gemara bases the laws governing Birkhat Ha-Gomel are taken from Tehilim 107, where the verse "Let them give thanks unto the Lord for His mercy, and for His wonderful works to the children of men" is repeated several times.||Halakhic Essays of Harav Aharon Lichtenstein (5776)|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Birkat Ha-Gomel (II)||In the previous lecture, we dealt with the various cases in which a person is obligated to recite Birkat Ha-Gomel. We saw the various opinions among the Rishonim regarding the question whether the blessing is recited only in cases where a person safely emerged from a situation of real danger or even in cases of lesser danger. We showed that the disagreement on this issue depends on the nature of Birkat Ha-Gomel: Is the blessing recited over rescue from danger, or over a situation that could have developed into danger.||Halakhic Essays of Harav Aharon Lichtenstein (5776)|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Mentioning Shem and Malkhut in Blessings||Blessings. A well-known dispute exists between Rav and Rabbi Yochanan concerning the basic text required in any berakha (blessing).||Halakhic Essays of Harav Aharon Lichtenstein (5776)|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Laws Dependent Upon the Land of Israel||Israel. Our objective in this lecture is to provide an overview of Seder Zera'im and the main topics discussed therein.||Halakhic Essays of Harav Aharon Lichtenstein (5776)|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||Prolonging Prayer||Prayer. This week's lecture will deal with Chazal's attitude towards prolonging prayer. We shall also touch upon some of the ramifications of this issue in our day.||Halakhic Essays of Harav Aharon Lichtenstein (5776)|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||The Mitzvot of the Festivals - Part 1: Simchat Yom Tov||Holidays. Simchat Yom Tov||Halakhic Essays of Harav Aharon Lichtenstein (5776)|
|Harav Aharon Lichtenstein||The Mitzvot of the Festivals - Part 2 The Effect of Individual Mitzvot Upon the Character of the Festival||Holidays. Until know we have dealt with the mitzva of simcha which relates to Yom Tov and its sanctity in general. It would seem, however, that we may advance a similar approach with regard to the individual mitzvot of every festival.||Halakhic Essays of Harav Aharon Lichtenstein (5776)|