web analytics
October 23, 2014 / 29 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



My Rebbe Rav Aharon Lichtenstein Is Awarded the Israel Prize 2014

Rav Aharon Lichtenstein

Rav Aharon Lichtenstein

My chaver Billy Altshul informed me that our rebbe Rav Aharon Lichtenstein has been awarded the Israel Prize 2014 in Jewish religious literature.

He was one of the finest teachers that I studied with in college – a genius as an educator and a sincere and compassionate human being. He is the person that I chose to personify the quintessential scribe personality of prayer in my book “God’s Favorite Prayers (p. 71 ff).”

The Scribe’s Prayers

Shema — n 1. the central statement of Jewish belief, the sentence “Hear, O Israel: the Lord is your God; the Lord is One” (Deuteronomy 6:4) 2. the section of the liturgy consisting of this and related biblical passages, Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21 and Numbers 15:37-41, recited in the morning and evening prayers and on retiring at night [Hebrew, literally: hear]

—Collins English Dictionary, 2009

I had the privilege of studying in Rav Aharon Lichtenstein’s Talmud shiur (class) for two years, 1966-1968. Each December, he invited us talmidim (disciples) to his house for latkes (potato pancakes) on Hanukkah. There, in his apartment, we sat with his little kids and his wife Tovah, daughter of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik. The latkes were good and the Lichtensteins appeared to be a regular family. For some reason, that surprised me.

Once, during the years that I was in his shiur, while I was out with some of the guys playing basketball on the courts between the Yeshiva College dorms, Rav Aharon, a lanky, thin and tall man, came walking by. One of us had the chutzpah to ask him to join the ball game. He said okay and he played aggressively—and just like a regular guy. For some reason, that blew my mind.

And, one year, in our student play, the Yeshiva College Purim shpiel, a satiric revue for the holiday, I played the role of Rav Aharon. In my performance, I hemmed and hawed and exaggerated my rebbe’s mannerisms much more than I should have. And there in the audience sat my rebbe, laughing heartily along with us. For some reason, that really blew my mind.

These three anecdotes aside, Rav Aharon was not just a regular guy. He also was a special teacher who imbued me with indelible lessons that I have taken with me throughout my life.

Rav Aharon taught me that you could be both a humanist and a Talmudic scholar, a lamdan. He clearly loved English literature, which he had studied at Harvard. He often and freely quoted poets John Milton and Edmund Spenser. He happily contrasted the ideas of the enlightenment with those of the Torah. But all the time it was clear to me that literature was his avocation and that learning Torah was his true vocation.

Rav Aharon also taught me that you could critically study and deeply love the lifestyle instructions—called the hashkafah—of the Torah. Each week, we read and discussed a chapter in Rabbi Elimelech Bar Shaul’s inspirational Hebrew treatise, Mitzvah Valev (Tel Aviv, 1956), which means the commandments and the heart. Through that work, Rav Aharon taught us that the cognitive understanding of a commandment needed to be joined to the emotional commitment of one’s heart. His lessons had a profoundly powerful and positive impact on my faith.

Finally, Rav Aharon taught me that you could be a vitally creative pedagogue even in the most traditional subjects of learning. The college administration told him that he had to give us exams in Talmud, the main subject that he taught us, so he used that as an opportunity to teach us more. He gave us thought-questions. Based on something we learned previously, he would ask us to resolve a new scenario. Or he would give us text-questions. He would have us examine a brand new text, related to some passage we had learned before, and then he asked us to parse it and to comment on it. We had to decide what commentary he had plucked the text from, tell him what the text meant and then explain why we came to our conclusions. That was hard.

About the Author: Tzvee Zahavy is a triathlon swimmer, a competitive golfer, a prolific author of books on Judaism, a prize-winning professor with a PhD from Brown University, a compassionate rabbi with semicha from Yeshiva University, and a fun guy.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “My Rebbe Rav Aharon Lichtenstein Is Awarded the Israel Prize 2014”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Ebola virus particles.
New York City Hospital Testing Patient for Ebola Virus
Latest Blogs Stories
Chaye Zisel Braun

Arab terrorism against Jews and the State of Israel is not something we should be “calm” about.

European Union

Is the EU “Jewish challenged”?

Car in Light Rail Runover

The headlines refused to scream “ARAB TERROR ATTACK;” instead the phrase “Suspected Terror Attack.”

"Shiloh"

I’ve heard many times I write what others think, making them extremely happy; that’s why I continue.

Though secular, Hitman’s CV includes writing music for, recording, and popularizing religious songs.

Polls indicate that the Palestinians are much more against a two state solution than the Israelis.

Has the Jewish world adapted to the times? Hear the answer with Doug and his guest, Rabbi Berel Wein.

Leon Klinghoffer’s daughters: “‘Klinghoffer’ is justified as ‘a work of art’…This is an outrage.”

Kids bring in the light and let out the darkness through breathing exercises; it changes people.

If I make a million dollars in 2 weeks, how can I observe something like this and sit by quietly?”

Sometimes collective action against the heinous acts of the majority is not enough. The world should not only support the blockade of Gaza; it must enforce the dismantling of Hamas.

How long will it take for Israel and the Jewish World to admit that we are in very serious danger?

How do changes in technology affect the human life and our interactions with each other?

Palestinians (and Jordanians) often use the term “provocation” regarding Israeli action in Jerusalem

The zealots who engineered the ban have been publicly disgraced.

I am sick and tired of this one way street boycott! Time to boycott all products developed or invented in the Palestinian controlled areas! Let’s start with……umm….

More Articles from Tzvee Zahavy
Rav Aharon Lichtenstein

One of us had the chutzpah to ask him to join the ball game. He said okay and he played aggressively.

woman of the wall

I believe it is essential for Orthodox Judaism to change and to provide women with full equality, including minyan, aliyahs and ordination.

The owners of the Rap Genius web site continue to describe it as the Talmud for rap.

Our club, Northwest Racket and Swim in St. Louis Park, had a wonderful yoga program.

These Jewish success books are “very dangerous.”

This translation, (approx. 665 pages) adheres closely to the text so that the reader has a sense of the structure and balance of the original.

Islamic yoga objections are more worrisome as the proponents of yoga in Muslim lands try to “avoid a fatwa.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/the-talmudic-blog/my-rebbe-rav-aharon-lichtenstein-is-awarded-the-israel-prize-2014/2014/02/26/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: