Rabbi Wise’s Study Corner: Remembering Rav Aharon Lichtenstein z’l

Last Shabbat, I spoke about tzara’at habayit, the version of ritual impurity that attacks not the body or clothing, but the home. We studied the commentary of the Kli Yakar, Rabbi Shlomo Ephraim Luntschitz, noting that this is the only affliction that is linked to the Israelites’ possessing the land. As we learned, his message is that the plague is brought on by miserliness, by an unwillingness to share of the bounty of our homes. Lest we forget that we are not the true homeowners, that the land is not really ours, we must open our homes in order to avoid plagues.

We linked this teaching with the principled religious Zionism of Rav Aharon Lichtenstein z’l, one of the leaders of Yeshivat Har Etzion, who died last week. We heard excerpts from his response to a group of Israeli rabbis who issued a ruling forbidding Jews from selling homes in the land of Israel to non-Jews. You can find the full text of his response below:


This is the same Rabbi Lichtenstein who condemned the murderous rampage of Baruch Goldstein after the latter was eulogized with unmitigated praise. Though he never commented on a particular peace plan, he validated the idea of territorial compromise. He loved the Land passionately, but would not let that love blind him to other ethical imperatives. May all of his disciples learn to balance their religious Zionist passion with a clear moral compass.

Until next time,

Rabbi David Wise