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Baruch Dayan HaEmet: Gadol Hador, Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman Passed Away This Morning

In the morning’s early hours Rabbi Shteinman’s health rapidly deteriorated and a few minutes before 8:00 he returned his soul to his maker. He was 104 years old.

The Gadol Hador (Torah Giant of the Generation) was born and raised in Lithuania and learned in various well known Yeshivot between WWI and WWII. In 1937 2 years before WWII he moved to Switzerland to be able to continue learning and avoid the Polish army draft. This saved him and all of Torah Jewry as he grew to become a preeminent Torah scholar. In Switzerland he married his wife Tamar of blessed memory.

In 1945 Rabbi Shteinman made Aliya to the holy land and became dean of Yeshiva Chafetz Chaim in Kfar Saba. After 10 years Rabbi Kahanaman of Yeshivat Ponevezh in Bnei Brak appointed Rabbi Shteinman Rosh Yeshiva of the Ponevezh Yeshiva for young men (to age 18). Later Rabbi Shteinman established the Gaon Yaakov Yeshiva and Orchot Torah. He authored 30 books including Ayelet Hashachar a commentary on the Talmud and on the Torah.

Rabbi Shteinman became involved in the politics of Torah Jewry with the establishment of the Degel HaTorah Party when Rabbi Shach invited him to join the new party’s Rabbinical Council. With Rabbi Shach’s passing 16 years ago rabbi Shteinman became recognized as the leader of the Lithuanian yeshiva community alongside Rabbi Elyashiv of blessed memory.

Rabbi Shteinman lived in a small ascetically simple apartment in Bnei Brak which drew people from all over the world from Yeshiva students to t world leaders who sought his advice and blessings. All heard from him about their responsibility to support Torah and its scholars. Rabbi Shteinman was known for his selfless devotion to the kollels under his supervision and spared no effort to raise the glory of Torah and its scholars wherever they may be.

Though he was the leader of the generation for the Haredi public he was active in outreach to those estranged from Judaism. He had big tours to the Jewish communities around the world to encourage the local folk there to strengthen their Torah learning and mitzvah observance. He encouraged them to open Torah institutions in the Haredi style. He also raised money for the Chinuch Atzmai schools (that teach and introduce Torah to the unaffiliated) in Israel during these trips.

Rabbi Shteinman taught with his community activities that one shouldn’t clash head on with non-religious Jews and dialogue is always more effective. This was true of when there was anti-religious legislation in the government too; the best way to prevent those laws was through outreach and increasing Torah knowledge.

This past year Rabbi Shteinman took ill a few times and became very weak. He had to remove himself from the less pressing community issues and began talking of his preparations for the world to come. 3 weeks ago he was again hospitalized in Ma’aynei Hayeshua Hospital and this past Thursday his health dramatically deteriorated. This morning he passed away.

At noon the funeral will leave from Rechov Chazon Ish in Bnei Brak. Rabbi Shteinman will be buried in the Ponevezh cemetery alongside his wife. In his will he requested there should not be a delay of more than 6 hours after his death before he is buried.

Police, emergency services and public transportation companies are all organizing logistically for the funeral which will have hundreds of thousands of participants who want to pay their last respects to the Torah leader of the generation.

May His memory Be blessed.


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