Zelik Epstein

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Zelik Epstein, also known as Zelig Epstein (full name Aharon Zelig Epstein) (July 10, 1914 – August 3, 2009), was a prominent[1] Orthodox rabbi and rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Shaar HaTorah-Grodno, a private, Talmudical institution in Kew Gardens, Queens, New York,[2] containing a high school, Beis Midrash, and Kollel. He studied in Mir and taught in Yeshiva Torah Vodaas prior to becoming rosh yeshiva at Shaar HaTorah. Rabbi Epstein was considered by many to be the last of the Gedolim of his generation.[3]

Rabbi Epstein maintained a relatively low profile – for example, he did not join the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, despite numerous invitations.[4] His non-membership in the Moetzes, however, was a mere formality, as he still served as the address of last resort for many of the thorniest problems facing Klal Yisrael.[5] His approbation was sought (and received) for a number of major projects, such as the Schottenstein edition of both the Talmud Bavli and Yerushalmi. He is known to have been a close confidant of several gedolim of the previous generation, including Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky[6] and Rabbi Elazar Shach.

Rabbi Epstein married a granddaughter of Rabbi Shimon Shkop, rosh yeshiva of the original Yeshiva Shaar HaTorah-Grodno. He had two children, a son named Kalman and a daughter named Elka.[7] His son and successor,[8] Rabbi Kalman Epstein, a Torah scholar in his own right, gives the highest level shiur in the Yeshiva. The lower level post High school lecture is given by Rabbi Shalom Spitz. In recent years, Rabbi Zelik gave only one lecture a week, on Sefer Hamitzvot, written by Maimonidies. The younger Rabbi Epstein also assisted his father in running the Yeshiva due to the latter's advanced age.

Rabbi Epstein supported Rabbi Nathan Kamenetsky and his book Making of a Godol, stating in a letter to Rabbi Yosef Sholom Eliashiv that "in my opinion there is no justification whatsoever to ban the aforementioned book."[9] Rabbi Epstein served together with many other prominent Roshei Yeshiva on the rabbinical board of Kesher, a shidduch initiative.[10]


  1. ^ William B. Helmreich. "The World of the Yeshiva: An Intimate Portrait of Orthodox Jewry" New York: Free Press, 1982, page xix
  2. ^ 50states.com
  3. ^ See, e.g. Hamodia Magazine, October 21, 2009, p.3.
  4. ^ See Hamodia Magazine, October 21, 2009, p.3.
  5. ^ Hamodia Magazine, October 21, 2009, p.3.
  6. ^ See Reb Yaakov by Yonason Rosenblum, p. 146 (Mesorah Publications, 1993).
  7. ^ http://matzav.com/rav-zelik-epstein-ztl-a-tribute-on-his-first-yahrtzeits-tomorrow-13-av
  8. ^ See
  9. ^ See Making of a Godol
  10. ^ Kesher Shidduch Initiative