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Soloveichik, Aaron

SOLOVEICHIK, AARON

SOLOVEICHIK, AARON (1917–2001), U.S. rosh yeshivah and noted Orthodox rabbinical personality. Born in Khaslavichy, Belarus, he was taken to Warsaw in 1920 where his father Rabbi Moshe *Soloveichik became head of the Talmud department of the Taḥkemoni rabbinical seminary. In 1930, right after his bar mitzvah, Soloveichik and his family immigrated to the United States, where his father had become the senior rosh yeshivah at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. Soloveichik graduated from the high school (Talmudical Academy), and the college (Yeshiva College) affiliated with the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. He received his rabbinical ordination from the latter institution and also attained a legal degree from the New York University Law School. Soloveichik first taught Talmud at Mesivtha Tifereth Jerusalem and then at the Rabbi Chaim Berlin Yeshiva. In 1960 he joined the Talmudic faculty of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, where his older brother, Rabbi Joseph Baer *Soloveitchik, was the dominant spiritual and intellectual figure. Rabbi Aaron Soloveichik moved to Chicago in 1966, where he became rosh yeshivah and dean of the faculty at the Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Illinois.

In 1974 he left this school and founded Yeshivas Brisk in Chicago. In 1986 he began commuting weekly to New York to also teach at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, where he became the successor to his ailing brother, Joseph. In addition to Talmud and cognate texts, Soloveichik also taught the philosophy of Judaism, lectured on contemporary issues, and devoted much time to student guidance. He became a beloved and focal rabbinic figure on the American Torah scene. Despite suffering a debilitating stroke in 1983, he courageously continued his teaching responsibilities. Soloveichik was quoted in the New York Times (January 4, 1987), "I try to elevate myself through my suffering. I'm in constant pain. But when I give a shi'ur, I don't feel it as much."

Soloveichik was forthright in expressing his opinions and took strong positions on contemporary issues. He opposed the war in Vietnam, which was unusual at the time for an American rosh yeshivah. Soloveichik strongly supported the settlement of all of the Land of Israel. He was opposed to the Oslo Accords and lobbied Israeli political and spiritual leaders on both political and theological grounds. Soloveichik declared that the Land of Israel belonged solely to the Jewish people and that compromise would not bring peace.

A portion of his teachings was published by Soloveichik, aided by his students. Logic of the Heart, Logic of the Mind, consisting of "reflections on topics of our times" appeared in 1991. Three volumes of his rabbinic novellas were published. Od Yisrael Yosef Beni Ḥai, in memory of a grandson, appeared in 1993. Two volumes, entitled Peraḥ Matteh Aharon, consisting of insights on the first two divisions of Maimonides' Mishneh Torah, were published in 1997 and 1999. In editing these volumes, Soloveichik was assisted by his disciple David Applebaum, who was both a rabbi and medical doctor and resided in Jerusalem. Applebaum was to be murdered in a suicide bombing at the Hillel Café together with his daughter, Naava, on the eve of her wedding (2003).

bibliography:

S.S. Meiselman, The Soloveitchik Heritage: A Daughter's Memoir (1995).

[Aaron Rothkoff (2nd ed.)]

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