Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Their Impact on Orthodox Jewry

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein
Rabbi Aharon Kotler
Reb Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn
Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik
Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum

The list is of course incomplete. There were many great figures that impacted Judaism in the post holocaust 20th century. I could probably add a dozen or more names. But in my mind these six were probably the most influential. Some names are controversial. But no one can deny they each had a major impact. For me it would be almost impossible to say which one of these contributed the most. Although I do have a choice. I am curious to find out what others think? Do one of these stands out more than the rest?

A brief bio of each might be in order.

Rabbi Feinstein is perhaps considered the greatest Posek of the 20th century.

Rabbi Kotler established Lakewood Yeshiva which has been the standard bearer for Right Wing Orhtodoxy.

Rabbi Mendlowitz is responsible for the establishment of religious day school education in America.*

Rabbi Schneersohn is responsible for bringing masses of Jewry to observance.

Rabbi Soloveitchik was the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva University which is the standard bearer of modern Orhtodoxy - a movement that he helped define and led for decades.

Rabbi Teitelbaum is responsible for establishing and leading the largest and most dominant Chasidus in the world.

* Reb Shraga Feival (as he was lovingly known - he shunned the title Rav or Rabbi) died in 1948, just a couple of years after the holocaust. The others lived well beyond that. But R’ Shraga Feivel’s contributions were mostly felt after his death so I include him on this list.

Obviously these descriptions fall very short. Many might say it is unimportant to know who contributed the most - that they all made major contributions and there are no contests about greatness in Judaism. I understand and kind of agree. But there is the concept of Gadol HaDor which is a recognized one throughout our existence - starting with Moshe Rabbenu. I am merely expanding on this idea here.

Others may feel that I emphasized the wrong thing about one or more of them. I will concede that point. People have different perspectives and focus on different things. But in the interests of keeping this post brief I limited it to what I think was at least one major aspect of their lives.

I have set up a poll on the right margin. After you’ve voted if you are so inclined you can explain your vote in the comments. If you feel there are others greater than those I listed. Please feel free to mention them and tell me why you think so.

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