Aharon Lichtenstein

Aharon Lichtenstein

Rav Aharon Lichtenstein teaching at Yeshivat Har Etzion
Born (1933-05-23)May 23, 1933
Paris, France
Died April 20, 2015(2015-04-20) (aged 81)
Alon Shvut, Israel
Alma mater Yeshiva University
Harvard University
Religion Jewish (Centrist Orthodox[1])
Spouse(s) Dr. Tovah (née Soloveitchik) (m. 1960)
Children 6, including Rabbi Mosheh Lichtenstein, Rabbanit Estie Rosenberg
Awards Israel Prize (2014)

Aharon Lichtenstein (May 23, 1933 – April 20, 2015) was a noted Orthodox rabbi and rosh yeshiva.[2] He was an authority in Jewish law (Halakha).[3]


Rabbi Lichtenstein was born in Paris, France, but grew up in the United States, studied in Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin under Rabbi Yitzchok Hutner. 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.

After serving as Rosh yeshiva at Yeshiva University for several years, Rabbi 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 Dr. Tovah (née Soloveitchik) moved to Alon Shvut, where Yeshivat Har Etzion is located. They were married in 1960 and had six children.

On January 4, 2006, Rabbi Yaaqov Medan and Rabbi Baruch Gigi were officially invested as co-roshei yeshiva alongside Rav Amital and Rav Lichtenstein, with an eye toward Rabbi Amital's intention to retire.[4] On October 28, 2008, Rav Lichtenstein's eldest son, Rabbi Mosheh Lichtenstein, was officially invested as co-Rosh Yeshiva, simultaneous with Rav Amital's official retirement, this time with an eye toward Rav 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, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik in line with Centrist Orthodoxy.[5]

Lichtenstein was awarded the Israel Prize for Jewish Literature on Israeli Independence Day: May 6, 2014.[6] He died on April 20, 2015.[7] He was a source of inspiration for a wide circle of Jewry, for both his educational attainments and his intellectual and spiritual leadership.[8] He was especially admired by many centrist Modern Orthodox leaders.[9]


Rav Aharon Lichtenstein at the inauguration of his son Rav Mosheh Lichtenstein as a Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Har Etzion, 28 October, 2008.

Based on Rabbi 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.


  1. Lichtenstein, Aharon; Ziegler, Reuven. "Centrist Orthodoxy: A Spiritual Accounting". The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Yeshivat Har Etzion Roshei Yeshiva Archived March 20, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. An Interview with Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein
  6. Israel National News.
  7. "Renowned Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein dies at 81". The Times of Israel. April 20, 2015. Retrieved April 20, 2015.
  8. 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.").
  9. FIRST THINGS, the Journal of Religion, Culture, and Public Life, "For Torah and Culture" by Dr. David Singer (April 20, 2005)

External links

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