Great Leaders of our People
Soloveitchik taught Torah for nearly three score years, thirty-four in
Chicago. He headed the Hebrew Theological College in Skokie from 1966
until 1974, when he left to found Yeshivas Brisk in Chicago, all while
teaching a much sought-after “shiur,” or lecture, in Talmud at the Rabbi
Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University. He commuted
weekly from Chicago to New York, planting seeds of Torah in two great
cities in the United States, even as his brother,
Rav Yosef Dov
Soloveitchik, known as the “Rav,” did for Boston and New York.
Aside from his scholarship in Torah, Rav Aharon was known as a person of
great humility and of profound love for his fellow human beings. Those
personal qualities came to the fore most during his famous “Hashkafah”
shiurim, classes in which he discussed the weekly Parshah, its characters
and their motivations, from the perspectives of Jewish ethics and
He was born in Russia in 1917 into a rabbinic dynasty that went back nine
generations, and included Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik, the “founder” of the
“Brisker derech,” a methodology of learning Torah that involved rigorous
definition and precise categorization of Torah Laws in many cases into
“Two-Halachah” dichotomies. His teacher in this “derech” was his father,
Rabbi Moshe Soloveitchik.
Rav Aharon was one of the three great Soloveitchik brothers, sons of Rav
Moshe (who had also taught there with great distinction): the “Rav,” Rav
Aharon and Dr. Samuel Soloveitchik, who made his mark on the “Mada” side
of Torah U-Mada, specifically in chemistry, who graced the halls of
Yeshiva University during the latter half of the twentieth century.
Rav Aharon gained considerable fame as a “posek,” or decisor, on modern
applications of Jewish Law. As a single example of many, he disagreed with
many of his peers and espoused the view that brain stem death is not
sufficient to certify that a person is dead.
Together with his wife, Ella Shurin Soloveitchik, he produced six
children, the four sons all rabbis and the two daughters wives of rabbis.
Rav Aharon had survived a debilitating stroke, and had gone on teaching
Torah for eighteen years. But only two months after his beloved wife
passed away, he suffered a heart attack, and his holy neshamah was called
to appear before the Heavenly Court. This unassuming righteous individual,
who combined compassion with great Torah scholarship, was buried on the
Mountain of Olives in Jerusalem.
The above graphic includes photographs that were provided by VERAfilm archives.