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Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, Modern Orthodox Scholar, Dies at 81

Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, a leader of the Israeli national-religious movement and a prominent Modern Orthodox scholar, has died.

Lichtenstein, a head of the Har Etzion Yeshiva located in the Gush Etzion bloc of the West Bank, died Monday morning at the age of 81.

The rabbi, who received a PhD in English literature from Harvard University, was awarded the Israel Prize for Jewish Literature in 2014.

He was ordained in 1959 in Boston by prominent American Modern Orthodox leader Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, and became his son-in-law a year later.

Lichtenstein was born in France and fled the country with his family in 1940, settling in the United States.

He served as head of Yeshiva University in New York before making aliyah in 1971, after being asked to head the fledgling Har Etzion Yeshiva jointly with the late Rabbi Yehuda Amital. Lichtenstein’s son, Mosheh, currently serves as one of the yeshiva’s heads.

Former chief rabbi of Britain, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, said in a statement: “Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, of blessed memory, was a man of giant intellect, equally at home in the literature of the sages and of the world, a master Talmudist, a profound exponent of Jewish thought, a deep and subtle thinker who loved English literature and whose spiritual horizons were vast. No less impressive was his stature as a human being, caring and sensitive in all his relationships, one who honored his fellows even when he disagreed with them, a living role model of Jewish ethics at its best.”

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