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Petira Of HaGaon HaRav Aharon Lichtenstein ZT”L – Leading Dati Leumi Posek, Son In Law Of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik

candle914Baruch Dayan HaEmmes: HaGaon HaRav Dr. Aharon Lichtenstein ZT”L was niftar at the age of 81. The levaya will be held on Tuesday, 2 Iyar to permit family members to arrive in Eretz Yisrael.

The rav was a leading authority in the dati leumi community around the world. While he was born in France, he was raised in the United States. He was a talmid of both HaRav Yitzchak Hutner Z”TL and Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik ZT”L, eventually becoming his son-in-law.

In 1970, Rabbi Yehuda Amital invited him to serve with him as head of Yeshivat Har Etzion in Alon Shvut, Rabbi Liechtenstein acceded to the request, and immigrated to Israel with his family in 1971, and has served as the Rosh yeshiva, Rabbi Amital along with until the death of the latter. He would not serve unless Rav Amital was co-rosh yeshiva alongside, another symbol of his absolute modesty.

Rabbi Dr. Liechtenstein received the Israel Prize for Torah literature and in English literature. He earned a BA and semicha at Yeshiva University and a PhD in English Literature at Harvard University, where he studied under Douglas Bush.

In 2006 he moved from Gush Etzion to Yerushalayim. At the end of the winter zman in 5771 he announced his retirement as rosh yeshiva, dedicating his time to his Torah study and writings.

In his words upon hearing of the petira, Rishon L’Tzion HaGaon HaRav Yitzchak Yosef stated,

הרב ליכטנשטיין שייך לשרידי דור דעה, של רבנים שידעו שאין להתפשר על קוצו של יו”ד בהלכה היהודית ובד בבד בתוך עמם הם ישבו.

He belonged to a generation of rabbonim who would not compromise one iota in halacha.

Rav Yosef added the petira of the rav represents a great loss for the Torah world, continuing that Rav Lichtenstein publically came out to support the psak halacha of his father regarding the aliyah of the so-called Falashmurah, the immigrants from Ethiopia. Rav Yosef explains that while it did not directly impact the rav, he nevertheless felt the need to support the psak and assist.

The levaya will begin at Yeshivat Har Etzion in Gush Etzion on Tuesday morning 2 Iyar at 10:00 and continue to Har Menuchos.

Shock and Emptiness – Students Eulogize Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein

The video recently released in honor of the rav’s 80th birthday

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

15 Responses

  1. I was 18 when I went to visit gush for a shabbos. He spoke twice and the main thing I learned was that you don’t need a beard to be a gadol. Being niftar on GEVURAH SHEBITIFERES kind of proves that thought. Some people need a beard to acquire Tiferes. Some have enough without it. Mamesh a GIBOR of TIFERES.

  2. I’ve heard that many DL felt that Rav Lichtenstein z”l was the biggest Talmid Chacham of our Dor. This is certainly a big blow to the D”L community, not to mention having so recently lost Rabbi Sherki’s son Hy”d.

    Barach Dayan Ha’Emes

    המקום ינחם אתכם בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים

  3. #6: I was told by a Rav of mine that the breadth of R’ Lichtenstein zt”l’s knowledge was on par with that of R’ Chaim Kanievsky.

    #5: According to Wikipedia, he himself wrote a few works:
    By His Light: Character and Values in the Service of God (based on Lichtenstein’s addresses)
    Leaves of Faith (vol. 1): The World of Jewish Learning
    Leaves of Faith (vol. 2): The World of Jewish Living
    Varieties of Jewish Experience

    His talmidim also gathered and published his shiurim as Shiurei Harav Aharon Lichtenstein on Tohorot, Zevahim, the eighth chapter of Bava Metzia, the third chapter of Bava Batra, the Ramban’s pamphlet on Dinah DiGarmi, the first chapter of Pesahim, Masechet Horayot, and several critical chapters of Gittin.

  4. Baruch Dayan Ha’Emes

    His shiurim were masterpieces

    A scholar and professor as well of English Literature

    Oddly,many of his ‘disciples’ have been involved in societal social engineering and anti charedi incitement

  5. He mamash knew all of Shas, Bavli & Yerushalmi, & Poskim b’al peh, with instant recall. A phenomenal Sinai and Oker Harim in one, mastering many secular fields as well but spending most of his time in Torah and using everything he learned to help him understand Torah, and transmit it to thousands. Oy – Klal Yisroel doesn’t have anyone left who can do that. Y’hi Zikhro Barukh.

  6. DaMoshe: Yes, though none of us can measure too precisely, his Torah knowledge was in the same league as Rav Kanievsky shlit”a.
    Also, besides the sefarim you listed, a new sefer was recently published called Minchas Aviv of shiurim and ma’amarim on various sugyas in Shas.
    For those interested, this is a link to tributes to him said on various occasions in recent years
    And those interested in hearing hespedim can find most of them at
    Editor: Thank you for removing that polarizing comment about the dati leumi community. How sad to see some people cannot rise above sectarian politics even in times like this. One of Rav Lichtenstein’s incredible qualities was his ability to passionately believe in certain values such as Tzionut Datit (Religious Zionism), yet not to let those beliefs interfere with his love for every Jew and deep-seated recognition of Torah being the ultimate connection between Torah-observant Jews of all shapes and stripes.
    ברוך דיין האמת. נפלה עטרת ראשנו, כבה מאור עינינו

  7. Dear Editor,
    I’ve noticed my comments are not posted on the website. If you might be able to send me an email explaining what I said that didn’t pass moderation, I’d really appreciate it.

  8. Uncle ber:

    Additional Sefarim shiurim on shas, minchat aviv, arteries of jewish experience.

    See his hundreds of shiurim on

    He was known to give lectures on paradise lost by Milton in Hebrew and English and his use of English literature while daunting illuminate the Mesorah in new and deep ways (see for example his essay to double business bound: reflections on the divided lives of Ovdei hashem. In this essay, Rav Lichtenstein ZT”L juxtaposes a mere in Yerushalmi shabbat 2:1 about asking God to give Israel 2 mouthed to a speech in hamlet 3.2)

    Jewish unity: the levayia and three hours of hespedim are on YouTube and the Yeshivat Har Etzion website.

    The numerous hespedim given at yu are on

    An English transcription of the gush hespedim is online.

    B’ezrat hashem, a group of his Talmudim and talmedi haYeshiva will be compiling a book of his devrei Torah and stories from and about him for either the sheloshim or end of the 11months.

    God willing, I will compile what has been said on facebook and post a link to it here. Search google and YouTube but there are numerous hespedim and shiurim.

    If you are in New York, yu owns all or almost all of his published works in the library. Harav Herschel Schechter will likely be speaking at the sheloshim at YU. I will Iyh update here with details

    Links to hespedim and reflections:

    Hespedim at the yeshiva (in Hebrew)

    Hespedim from yeshiva university and the hespedim from Yeshivat Har Etzion

    Hespedim and reflections from rabanei hayeshiva (mainly in English)

  9. Many shiurim over the last week included hespedim for Rav Lichtenstein. One given this week for Yom ha’atzmaut included a 30 minute besutiful hesped though I cannot remember who was the maspid.

    For anyone who wants to be informed of hespedim, reflections and learning in memory of Rav Lichtenstein ZT”L, please feel free to email me at [email protected]

    Please have hespedim/limud in memory of Rav Lichtensyein as the subject line.

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