Rav Aharon Lichtenstein zt”l



It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Rav Aharon Lichtenstein zt”l, one of the most prominent rabbis in Modern Orthodoxy and the Israeli national-religious movement. He was 81.

Rav Lichtenstein led the Har Etzion Yeshiva. He was a son-in-law of Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, from whom he received semichah in 1959.

Rav Lichtenstein was awarded Israel’s highest civilian honor, the Israel Prize, in 2014.

Rav Lichtenstein was born in Paris in 1933, the year the Nazi party rose to power in neighboring Germany, but fled Vichy France with his family in 1941 for the United States. The family settled in New York in 1945.

Rav Lichtenstein grew up in the United States, where he learned at Yeshivas Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin under Rav Yitzchok Hutner. He earned a BA and semichah at Yeshiva University 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, Rav 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 Yerushalayim. He maintained a close connection to Yeshiva University as a Rosh Kollel for the Gruss Institute in Yerushalayim, an affiliate of Yeshiva University and its Yeshiva Rabbeinu Yitzchok Elchanan.

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.

He is survived by his wife, Dr. Tovah, his children Rav Yitzchak, Rav Moshe, Rav Meir, Rav Shai, Esti and Tonya, and by two sisters, Hadassah Kleiman and Shoshana Lichtenstein, and thousands of talmidim.

The levaya will be held tomorrow at 10 a.m. at the Har Etzion Yeshiva in Gush Etzion. Kevurah will follow at the Givat Shaul cemetery in Yerushalayim.


  1. Yasher koiach for printing this. It is heartwarming to see in our era of in-fighting and divisiveness that there are those who rise above the “nareshkeit” and can genuinely respect and admire people from different ideological spheres.

    One slight technical correction: From what I understand, Rav Amital zt”l did not invite Rav Aharon to “join him at the helm” of the yeshiva. Rav Amital invited Rav Aharon to serve alone as Rosh Yeshiva, as Rav Amital did not deem himself worthy of the position. But Rav Aharon also did not want to be Rosh Yeshiva, and so their “compromise” was that they would serve together as co-Roshei Yeshiva. May this inspiring example guide all of us away from petty jealousy and competition.

  2. A humorous but true story.
    During the Lebanon war, Rav Lichtenstein A”H was in the reserves. The job the army gave him was to deliver milk to civilians. One of the people he delivered to was the great Gaon Rav Yisroel Gustman Z”L. Rav Lichtenstein used the opportunity to ask Rav Gustman some difficult questions in Shas. Afterwards, Rav Gustman remarked to one of his Talmidim ” What a country even the milkmen are Talmedei Chachomim.”

  3. Rav Lichtenstein and his family were known to have a kesher with rav Gustman. The Lichtensteins lived for many yrs in Jlem (they only moved to Alon Shevut later). I believe Rav Yitzy Lichtenstein learned in R Gustman’s yeshiva when he was young and that rav mosheh lichtenstein used to go learn in that beis medrash sometimes when he was home (eg when he was in Hebrew U). Rav Mosheh L is fond of telling the story that when Rav Aharon first came to EY, he went to Rav Gustman to ask how often he should go to the kosel and rav gustman answered “i go to the kosel whenever I want to talk to Hashem in Yiddish” (i.e. tefillos that are particularly mehalev.

  4. Excellent coverage on a highly-respect Rosh Yeshiva. I also admire the Matzav’s Kavod HaTorah for reporting on someone who may have a different ideology.

  5. No 5…Lovely story.It reminds me of a similar one.The previous Gateshead Rov zt”l,Rav Betsalel Rakow used to go every year before pesach to supervise the towns matzoh baking in E”Y.In his absence,Reb Faivish Steinhouse z”l,the f-I-l of Rabbi Eliyohu Falk shlit”o,who ran the towns only kosher bakery and a big talmid chochom used to give the Rov’s gemora shiur for the ba’alei battim each evening.Once the Rov humouriously commented “where is there another town like Gateshead where the Rov becomes the baker and the baker becomes the Rov?!”….

  6. Re the story of RAL z”l and Rav Gustman zt”- I don’t know if that is where it started, but Rav Gustman zt”l and Rav Lichtenstein z”l were close friends, and Rav Lichtenstein would always quote “Mori V’chaveiri” Rav Gustman in shiur, hosted him twice in Yeshiva for shabbos, and he gave a 4 hour hesped for him upon his petra.

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