Rabbi Mayer Lichtenstein: Advancing and Enhancing the Talmudic Legacy

A Yeshiva educator and college Talmud lecturer who heads a community Beit Midrash, Rabbi Mayer Lichtenstein is a BIU Doctoral Fellow of Excellence in Talmud. His dissertation, “Towards a History of Blessings before Eating in Rabbinic Literature” traces the formulation of halakha from the Second Temple (200 BCE) through the period of the Jewish Sages (600 CE).

 

Brought up on an analytical approach to Talmud study, which he learned from his late grandfather, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (the “Rav”) and his father, Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, he says, “My academic studies broadened my horizons and utilizing research tools enriched my study.” Part of a cadre of religious Zionist rabbis who advocate combining Torah learning with academic methodology, he opines that “broad knowledge of history, sociology and realia will make Talmud more relevant for the younger generation.”

 

Born in New York (1964) and raised in Israel, he began at age 14 to make annual visits to the US to learn with his grandfather. Following high school, he spent a year in the Rav’s shiur at YU before enrolling at Yeshivat Har Etzion, where he attended the shiur of his father, the co-Rosh Yeshiva. A Hesder student, he served in the IDF armored corps, later receiving semicha from the Israeli Chief Rabbinate, and his BA (Jewish History) and MA (Talmud) from the Hebrew University.

 

Pleased to be pursuing a PhD with supervisor Prof. Leib Moskowitz in BIU’s Talmud department with its “focus on content, diverse makeup and respect for tradition,” Lichtenstein is grateful for the Kahana Doctoral Fellowship which enables him to “devote more time to research.”

 

With plans to fully resume his teaching career upon graduation, “using my Yeshiva and scholarly knowledge to reach a higher understanding of Talmud,” the father of eight is continuing a family tradition. “I learned most of my Torah from my father and was inspired by his wisdom, and morality,” says Lichtenstein. “My grandfather gave me my passion for Torah and a commitment to joining the chain.