Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman

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Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman

הרב שטיינמן 5.jpg
Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman

November 3, 1914
DiedDecember 12, 2017(2017-12-12) (aged 103)
SpouseTamar Kornfeld
DenominationHaredi Judaism
Alma materYeshivas Etz Chaim
OccupationRabbi, Rosh yeshiva
PositionRosh Yeshiva
YeshivaPonevezh Yeshiva L'Tzi'irim
OrganizationDegel HaTorah
Yahrtzeit24 Kislev 5778
ResidenceBnei Brak

Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman (Hebrew: אהרן יהודה לייב שטינמן‎), also Shtainman or Steinman[2] (November 3, 1914[1] – December 12, 2017[3]), was a Haredi rabbi in Bnei Brak, Israel.[4] Following the death of Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv in 2012, he was widely regarded as the Gadol Hador (Leader of the Generation), the leader of the non-Hasidic Lithuanian Jewish world.[5] He, along with several other rabbis, is credited with reviving and expanding the appeal of European-style yeshivas in Israel.[6]


Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman was born in Kamyenyets (Kaminetz)[1] and raised in Brest (Brisk), then part of the Russian Empire.[7] He studied in Yeshivas Imrei Moshe, headed by Rabbi Moshe Skolovsky, in Brest, and attended shiurim (Torah lectures) given by Rabbi Yitzchok Zev Soloveitchik, the Brisker Rav.[8] He also studied in Kletzk under Rabbi Aharon Kotler.[7]

Upon reaching draft age in 1937, he was subject to the Polish draft, as Brest had come under the control of the newly established Polish state in the aftermath of the First World War. He and his close friend, Rabbi Moische Soloveitchik (a grandson of Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik) tried to evade the draft by starving themselves, but they were declared fit to serve by the draft officer. The two then fled with other Brisk students to Montreux, Switzerland, where they returned to Torah study in Yeshivas Etz Chaim. With the outbreak of World War II, the two became war refugees and were incarcerated in the Schonenberg labor camp near Basel, where nearly all the inmates were Torah-observant. Rav Shteinman and his friend were put to work laying roads, but due to his thin frame and short stature, he was released from manual labor and assigned to a desk job.[8][9]

Rav Shteinman was the only member of his family to survive the war. While still in Switzerland, he married Tamar (Tema) Kornfeld (d. 2002), the daughter of Rabbi Shammai Shraga Kornfeld of Antwerp.[10] She had been sent to Switzerland from Poland to cure her respiratory problems and had also become a refugee when World War II broke out.[8] The couple had four children.[10]

Rav Shteinman was known for his extremely modest lifestyle. His apartment on Chazon Ish Street 5, was sparsely furnished and had not been painted in many years.[11] Until 2014, he slept on the same thin mattress that he had received from the Jewish Agency upon his arrival in Israel in the early 1950s.[10]

In December 2016, the rabbi was hospitalized with pneumonia at Ma’ayanei Hayeshua Medical Center in Bnei Brak. The rabbi recovered, but doctors said at the time that they were "very concerned" and that a "general decline" in his physical condition has begun.[12] In January 2017, at 103 years of age, Rav Shteinman was again hospitalized. The Jerusalem Post reported that the rabbi was suffering from shortness of breath and an infection-related fever.[13] He was released after two weeks in intensive care.[14] He was again hospitalized in October 2017 for fever and weakness and was released after several days in intensive care. Two weeks later, while he was at the hospital for testing, there was an unexpected deterioration of his health.[15] Shteinman died on 12 December 2017, aged 104.[6] His funeral was attended by hundreds of thousands of Haredi men.[6]

Rabbinic career[edit]

During his first years in Israel, Rav Shteinman and his family lived in Kfar Saba; his sons were sent to a cheder in Petah Tikva.[10] Eventually they relocated to Bnei Brak,[10] where he headed the Ponevezh Kollel. In 1955, the Ponevezher Rav, Rabbi Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman, opened the yeshivah ketanah of Ponevezh, called Ponevezh L'Tzi'irim, and asked Rav Shteinman to serve as rosh yeshivah together with Rabbi Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz.[7][16] Rav Shteinman stopped giving his regular shiur in 1998, but retained the title of rosh yeshiva.[7] He was also rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Gaon Yaakov, which is led by his son-in-law, Rabbi Zev Berlin.[7]

Rav Shteinman was also the author of a popular series of kuntresim (pamphlets) on Torah subjects such as emunah (faith), chinuch (education), and hashgacha (Divine providence). The pamphlets are based on shiurim (Torah lectures) that he began giving to Ponevezh Kollel students in his home in 1994, and on shmuessen (ethical talks) that he began giving to students in Yeshivas Gaon Yaakov in 1978. Ranging in size from 24 to 100 pages, the pamphlets quickly sold out. An English-language translation of many of these subjects was published in 2013 by Israel Bookshop under the title Leading with Love: Guidance for Our Generation from Maran Harav Aharon Yehudah Leib Shteinman shlit"a on Torah, Emunah, Chinuch, the Home, and More.[7]

Despite publicly supporting life-long Torah study and forbidding secular learning, Rav Shteinman's private positions were more nuanced and accommodating.[6] This made him a target of criticism from both right wing elements of the chareidi world, as well as reformists.[6]

Political career[edit]

United States Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro visits Shteinman in his home, 2011

Rabbi Elazar Shach, the founder of the Degel HaTorah political party, when consulted for advice, would at times refer people to consult with Shteinman.[17] Shteinman was a leader of the Haredi Degel HaTorah political party and exerted much political power in the United Torah Judaism (UTJ) political coalition. UTJ is an alliance of Degel HaTorah and the Agudat Israel party. He was close with the Gerrer Rebbe, Rabbi Yaakov Aryeh Alter, a major supporter of Agudat Israel.

Travels abroad[edit]

When he was in his nineties, Rav Shteinman undertook to visit and strengthen key Haredi and religious communities outside of Israel.[9] In 2005 he visited a number of cities in North America with significant Haredi populations or institutions, including in Brooklyn, Lakewood, New York, and Passaic, meeting with many American Haredi rabbis including Rabbi Aharon Schechter of Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin.

He traveled to the Jewish community of Los Angeles on Lag Ba'omer in 2006 during a trip to America. Over five thousand individuals attended the gathering. He planned to travel together with Rabbi Yaakov Aryeh Alter, the Gerrer Rebbe, to Montreal in May 2006, but they delayed their trip to avoid protests from the Neturei Karta. After visiting Montreal, the rabbis parted ways. The Gerrer Rebbe continued to New York and then returned to Jerusalem, while Rav Shteinman went on to visit the Jewish communities in several South American cities, including Mexico City and Buenos Aires.[citation needed]

In May 2007 Rav Shteinman visited France, then England, where he addressed large gatherings in Manchester and Gateshead. In June 2010, Rav Shteinman visited the Jewish communities of Odessa, Berlin, and Gibraltar.[9][18] In 2012 he traveled to Paris to deliver talks to the French Jewish community.[5]

Published works[edit]

Shteinman originally published his main works on the Talmud anonymously under the name Ayelet HaShachar (alluding to his initials and those of his wife, Tamar [AYeLeT = Aharon Yehuda Leib Tamar] in Hebrew, as well as the "morning star" of Psalms 22).

Ayeles HaShachar al HaTorah (on the Pentateuch)

Ayeles HaShachar on Shas (Talmud)

Chessed Umishpat on Maseches Sanhedrin [1]

Yimaleh Pi Tehilasecha 1 2 - Mussar shmusen (ethical talks)

Mipekudecha Esbonan - Talks on Yomim Noraim (days of awe)


  1. ^ a b c Weinberger, Naftali (2018). Reb Aharon Leib: The life and wisdom of Rabbi Aharon Yehudah Leib Shteinman (1st ed.). Mesorah Publications. ISBN 9781422622247. Retrieved September 30, 2018.
  2. ^ "Rabbi Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman". rabbimeirbaalhaneis.com. Retrieved 21 October 2012.
  3. ^ "Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman passes away". M.jpost.com. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  4. ^ Ettinger, Yair (October 22, 2008). "Election season leaves Haredi politicos no time for repentance". Haaretz. Retrieved 2009-07-23.
  5. ^ a b Sharon, Jeremy (3 September 2012). "Leading Haredi Rabbi Holds Rally for French Jewry". Retrieved 21 October 2012.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel: The complicated legacy of Rabbi Shteinman, who has died aged 104". The Economist. 14 December 2017. Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Heimowitz, Rabbi Yehuda (16 September 2013). "At Rav Steinman's Side". Mishpacha. pp. 76–91.
  8. ^ a b c Blum, Aryeh. "The Early Years: The scent of Switzerland – Rav Aharon Leib Steinman". Mishpacha, 27 September 2012, pp. 44–45.
  9. ^ a b c Gottesman, Shlomo (21 July 2012). "When the Mountains Danced: Travels with HaRav Aharon Leib Steinman, shlita". Mishpacha. Retrieved 21 October 2012.
  10. ^ a b c d e Massry, Sarah. "In the Shadow of Greatness: A conversation with the daughter and granddaughter of Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman". Ami, April 1, 2015, pp. 76-82.
  11. ^ Finkelman, Shimon (2008). Living the Parashah: A treasury of insights and stories on the weekly Torah reading. 3. Mesorah Publications, Ltd. p. 246. ISBN 1422608824.
  12. ^ Berger, Yotam (2016-12-30). "Condition of Rabbi Shteinman, 103-year-old Leader of non-Hasidic Haredim, Deteriorates". Haaretz. Retrieved 2017-11-24.
  13. ^ "Haredi community prays for recovery of 103-year-old Rabbi Shteinman - Israel News - Jerusalem Post". Retrieved 2017-11-24.
  14. ^ "Rabbi Shteinman released from hospital". Israel National News. Retrieved 2017-11-24.
  15. ^ "'Rabbi Shteinman had a difficult day, but he's improving'". Israel National News. Retrieved 2017-11-24.
  16. ^ Hamodia - Tens of Thousands Attend Levayah of Harav Lefkowitz, zt"l BY HAMODIA STAFF "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-09-29. Retrieved 2011-08-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ Harav Schach: Shehamafteach B'yado by Moshe Horovitz. Keter Publishing House, Jerusalem. 1989. page 153
  18. ^ Bernstein, Dovid (7 June 2010). "Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman to Embark On Whirlwind Visit to Europe". matzav.com. Retrieved 21 October 2012.

Further reading[edit]

  • The Rosh Yeshiva by Shai Pe'er – Mishpacha Magazine – 13 Kislev 5766 12.14.05 – pgs. 28–33

External links[edit]