Now, in certain respects, some things which I value have been lost in the process. Not totally lost, but reduced… I would hope that something of that spirit which animated some of us here, back in the 60s and 70s, would be reinvigorated, and that the Torah U’Madda ideology and reality would be felt more powerfully than it is felt today. On the whole, the strengthening of Torah and talmud Torah, within so many kehillot, even as it has been accompanied by the decimation of other kehillot, has brought the total religious community in the States to an appreciably higher level.
Reflecting on your 50 years of service to the Jewish community, can you point to one or more significant turning points?
Unquestionably there were two turning points. The first was in the completion of my general studies, getting a doctorate at Harvard and the move back from there to Yeshiva, to the beis midrash.
The second major turning point, was, of course, coming to Eretz Yisrael. That was not just a change of venue, it was a change of climate, both in terms of what I personally, and my family, received from my new environment, as Jews, as bnei Torah, as participants in the world of Jewish past, of future destiny, and of being involved and engaged, at the contemporary level, where the heart of the present action lay.
What are you most proud of having accomplished during these years of service?
Looking back over the past 50 years, what I am proudest of is what some would regard as being a non-professional task. I’m proudest of having built, together with my wife, the wonderful family that we have. It is a personal accomplishment, a social accomplishment, and a contribution – through what they are giving and will give, each in his or her own way – in service of the Ribbono shel Olam in the future.
Rav Lichtenstein’s answers transcribed by Dov Karoll.