Aharon Lichtenstein

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Aharon Lichtenstein
Lichtenstein teaching at Yeshivat Har Etzion
Born(1933-05-23)May 23, 1933
28 Iyar 5693
Paris, France
DiedApril 20, 2015(2015-04-20) (aged 81)
1 Iyar 5775
Alon Shvut, Israel
Alma materYeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin
Yeshiva University
Harvard University
MovementCentrist Orthodoxy, Religious Zionism
Dr. Tovah Lichtenstein (née Soloveitchik)
(m. 1960)
Children6, including Rabbi Mosheh Lichtenstein, Rabbi Yitzchok Lichtenstein, Rabbanit Esti Rosenberg
Parent(s)Rabbi Dr. Yechiel Lichtenstein, Bluma née Schwartz
AwardsIsrael Prize (2014)

Aharon Lichtenstein (May 23, 1933 – April 20, 2015) was an Orthodox rabbi and rosh yeshiva[1] who was an authority in Jewish law (Halakha).[2]


Aharon Lichtenstein was born to Rabbi Dr. Yechiel Lichtenstein and Bluma née Schwartz in Paris, France, but grew up in the United States, where he studied in Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin under Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner as well as Rabbi Ahron Soloveichik.[3] He earned a BA and semicha ("rabbinic ordination") at Yeshiva University under Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, whose daughter, Tovah, he would later marry, and a PhD in English Literature at Harvard University, where he studied under Douglas Bush.

Lichtenstein married Dr. Tovah Soloveitchik on January 26, 1960.[4] They had six children: Mosheh, Yitzchak, Meir, Esti, Shai and Tonya.[5]

After serving as Rosh Yeshiva/Kollel at Yeshiva University for several years, Lichtenstein answered Rabbi Yehuda Amital's request in 1971 to join him at the helm of Yeshivat Har Etzion, located in Gush Etzion, and moved to Jerusalem. He maintained a close connection to Yeshiva University as a Rosh Kollel for the Gruss Institute in Jerusalem, an affiliate of Yeshiva University and its rabbinical school, Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary.

In 2005, he and his wife moved to Alon Shvut, where Yeshivat Har Etzion is located.

On January 4, 2006, Rabbi Yaakov Medan and Rabbi Baruch Gigi were officially invested as co-roshei yeshiva alongside Amital and Lichtenstein, with an eye toward Amital's intention to retire.[6] On October 28, 2008, Lichtenstein's eldest son, Rabbi Mosheh Lichtenstein, was officially invested as co-Rosh Yeshiva, simultaneous with Amital's official retirement, this time with an eye toward Aharon Lichtenstein's eventual plan to retire.

He was committed to intensive and original Torah study and articulated a bold Jewish worldview embracing elements of modernity within the framework of a Torah life, reflecting the tradition of his teacher and father-in-law, Joseph B. Soloveitchik in line with Centrist Orthodoxy.[7]

Lichtenstein was awarded the Israel Prize for Jewish Literature on Israeli Independence Day: May 6, 2014.[8] He died on April 20, 2015.[9] He was a source of inspiration for a wide circle of Jewry, for both his educational attainments and his intellectual and spiritual leadership.[10] He was especially admired by many centrist Modern Orthodox leaders as well as many in the Religious Zionist camp.[11]


Lichtenstein at the inauguration of his son Mosheh Lichtenstein as Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Har Etzion (2008).
  • Henry More: The Rational Theology of a Cambridge Platonist, (PhD Dissertation) Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1962.
  • By His Light: Character and Values in the Service of God, based on Lichtenstein's addresses and adapted by Reuven Ziegler ISBN 9781592644698 revised edition (Maggid Books, 2016)
  • Leaves of Faith (vol. 1): The World of Jewish Learning
  • Leaves of Faith (vol. 2): The World of Jewish Living
  • Varieties of Jewish Experience
  • Minchat Aviv: Chiddushim veIyyunim baShas[permanent dead link]: Edited by Elyakim Krumbein, Maggid Books, 2014 ISBN 9789655261714
  • Mussar Aviv: Al Mussar, Emuna veChevra[permanent dead link]: Edited by Aviad Hacohen and Reuven Ziegler Maggid Books, 2016 ISBN 9789655261905
  • Halakha and Humanism: Essays on the Thought and Scholarship of Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, by Yitzchak Blau (Editor), Alan Jotkowitz (Editor), Reuven Ziegler (Editor)
  • A Life Steady and Whole: Recollections and Appreciations of Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, zt"l: Edited by Joel B. Wolowelsky and Elka Weber Ktav, 2018 ISBN 9781602802933
  • Return and Renewal: Reflections on Teshuva and Spiritual Growth Archived 2018-10-03 at the Wayback Machine: Adapted and edited by Michael S. Berger and Reuven Ziegler Maggid Books, 2018 ISBN 9781592645077

Based on Lichtenstein's Talmud classes at Yeshivat Har Etzion, his students' notes have been edited and published 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.

Family Tree[edit]


  1. ^ Fischer, Elli. "Who Is Aharon Lichtenstein? Introducing the extraordinary rabbi who next week will receive Israel’s highest honor." Mosaic Magazine. April 30, 2014. Accessed June 2, 2014.
  2. ^ Goldberg, Jeffrey. "A Bit of Good News on the Don't-Sell-to-the Arabs Controversy." The Atlantic. December 14, 2010. Accessed June 2, 2014.
  3. ^ "A Life Steady and Whole".
  4. ^ "Pictures of Rav Aharon Lichtenstein Throughout the Years" (PDF). YUTorah.org.
  5. ^ "Rav Aharon Lichtenstein zt"l". Matzav. 20 April 2015.
  6. ^ Yeshivat Har Etzion Roshei Yeshiva Archived March 20, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ An Interview with Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein
  8. ^ Israel National News.
  9. ^ "Renowned Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein dies at 81". The Times of Israel. April 20, 2015. Retrieved April 20, 2015.
  10. ^ See, for example, "An Ideal Rosh Yeshiva". Edah Journal 5:1 (Tammuz, 2005) (PDF), by Dr. Alan Brill (stating, "Orthodox Jews of all leanings, myself included, have the deepest respect for, even awe of, R. Lichtenstein's piety, learning, and humanity. He is the ideal rosh yeshivah—erudite, humble, and moral.").
  11. ^ FIRST THINGS, the Journal of Religion, Culture, and Public Life, "For Torah and Culture" by Dr. David Singer (April 20, 2005)

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