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    Rabbi Shteinman ZT”L, A Humble Giant

    The Torah world plunged into mourning following the passing of Rav
    Ahron Leib Shteinman on Tuesday morning at Mayanei Hayeshua Medical
    Center in Bnei Brak.
    Renowned and revered as one of the biggest Torah giants in the
    Lithuanian Jewish community, Rav Shteinman was 104 years old at the
    time of his death.Rabbi Aharon Yehudah Leib Shteinman, the head of the
    Ponevezh Yeshiva in Bnei Brak and the head of the Degel HaTorah
    political party’s Council of Torah Sages, died Tuesday morning. Rav Shteinman was born and raised in the city of Brisk (now Belarus),
    then part of the Russian Empire. He studied at Yeshivas Imrei Moshe,
    led by Rav Moshe Sokolovsky, in Brisk, and attended shiurim given by
    the Brisker Rov, Rav Yitzchok Zev Soloveitchik. He also studied in
    Kletzk under Rav Aharon Kotler.Upon reaching draft age in 1937, he was subject to the Polish draft,
    as Brisk had come under the control of the newly established Polish
    state in the aftermath of the First World War. He and his close
    friend, Rav Moshe Soloveitchik tried to evade the draft by starving
    themselves, but they were declared fit to serve by the draft officer.
    The two then fled with other Brisk talmidim to Montreux, Switzerland,
    where they joined Yeshivas Etz Chaim. With the outbreak of World War
    II, the two became war refugees and were incarcerated in the
    Schonenberg labor camp near Basel, where nearly all the inmates were
    Torah-observant. Rav Shteinman and Rav Moshe were put to work laying
    roads, but due to his thin frame and short stature, Rav Shteinman was
    soon released from manual labor and assigned to a desk job.

    Rav Shteinman was the only member of his family to survive the war.
    While still in Switzerland, he married Rebbetzin Tamar (Tema) Kornfeld
    (who passed away in 2002), a daughter of Rav Shammai Shraga Kornfeld
    of Antwerp. She had been sent to Switzerland from Poland to cure her
    respiratory problems and had also become a refugee when World War II
    broke out. Rav Shteinman and the rebbetzin had four children..

    Settling initially in Petah Tikva, he became close with the Chazon
    Ish, Rabbi Avraham Yishaya Karelitz, who was then the leading Torah
    figure of the generation, and the latter appointed Rabbi Shteinman to
    head a yeshiva in Kfar Saba.

    He eventually moved to Bnei Brak and, in 1955, was appointed head of
    the Yeshiva Ketana, yeshiva for high-school-aged boys at Ponovizeh
    Yeshiva, one of the most prestigious yeshivas in the world, by yeshiva
    dean Rabbi Yosef Shlomo Kehaneman, and then head of the Ponovizeh
    Kollel, yeshiva for married men, in 1964.

    At this juncture, and slightly before, Rabbi Shteinman would take up
    one of the most important missions of his life, promoting Torah study
    as the sole occupation for a Haredi man.

    The Chazon Ish had himself been instrumental in promoting this ideal,
    and Rabbi Shteinman sought to advance it more practically on the

    In the 1950s and early 1960s, it had been extremely rare for Haredi
    men to spend their entire lives studying in kollel, since it was
    simply not financially viable. In 1953 when the Chazon Ish died, there
    were only 1,240 yeshiva students who obtained a military service
    deferral due to being in full time yeshiva study.

    So Rabbi Shteinman strove to open more kollels for married men to
    continue their yeshiva studies, to make entrance to kollel easier in
    terms of the standards required, and to raise money from donors in
    order to make yeshiva study a viable financial option.

    In the 1980s, the dynamic and vigorous Rabbi Menachem Eliezer Man
    Shach had become the head of the Lithuanian community, and formed the
    Degel Hatorah political party in 1988, splitting from hassidic
    controlled Agudat Yisrael.

    Rav Shach set up a Council of Torah Sages to guide the new political
    movement and Rabbi Shteinman was immediately appointed to this

    During his initial years in Eretz Yisroel, Rav Shteinman and his
    family lived in Kfar Saba. His sons were sent to a cheder in Petach
    Tikva. Eventually, they relocated to Bnei Brak, where Rav Shteinman
    headed the Ponovezher Kollel.

    In 1955, the Ponovezher Rav, Rav Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman, opened the
    yeshivah ketanah of Ponovezh, Yeshivas Ponovezh L’Tze’irim, and asked
    Rav Shteinman to serve as rosh yeshivatogether with Rav Michel Yehuda
    Lefkowitz. Rav Shteinman stopped giving his regular shiur in 1998.

    Rav Shteinman was also rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Gaon Yaakov, which is
    led by his son-in-law, Rav Zev Berlin, and Yeshiva Orchos Torah.

    Rav Shteinman was the author of the renowned seforim on Shas, Ayeles
    Hashachar. The seforimwere published anonymously and do not contain
    his name, only his initials. The name Ayeles is comprised of his and
    his wife’s initials: AYeLeS = Aharon Yehuda Leib Tamar.

    Rav Elazar Menachem Man Shach zt”l, the gadol hador, when consulted
    for advice, was known to at times refer people to consult with Rav

    Rav Shteinman served as a leading manhig of the olam hayeshivos and
    the olam haTorahfollowing the passing of Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv
    zt”l, guiding the Degel HaTorah political party.

    For many years, until he was in his seventies and eighties, Rav
    Shteinman was largely unknown beyond the olam hayeshivos, immersing
    himself in his learning and harbotzas Torah. It was only in the last
    few decades that he allowed himself to be thrust into the spotlight as
    a manhig of Klal Yisroel.

    When Rav Shteinman was in his nineties, Rav Shteinman undertook to
    visit and strengthen key Torah communities outside of Eretz Yisroel.
    In 2005 he visited a number of cities in North America with
    significant frum populations or institutions.

    Rav Shteinman traveled to the Jewish community of Los Angeles in 2006
    and in May 2007 visited France, and then England, where he addressed
    large gatherings in Manchester and Gateshead. In June 2010, Rav
    Shteinman visited the Jewish communities of Odessa, Berlin, and
    Gibraltar. In 2012 he traveled to Paris to deliver talks to the French
    Jewish community.

    Rav Shteinman was known for his extremely modest lifestyle. His
    apartment was sparsely furnished.

    Until 2014, he slept on the same thin mattress that he had received
    from the Jewish Agency upon his arrival in Israel in the early 1950s.

    As a leader Rav Shteinman was guided by the desire to protect his
    flock from the blandishments of the outside world, but declined to
    oppose those parts of his community who began to engage with the
    demands of the state by entering the workforce, higher education and
    the army.

    It is for this position that he will be remembered, and although he
    strongly discouraged such trends, he did not seek to hold them back,
    allowing them to develop and take root, and thereby come to a certain
    accommodation with the needs of the modern state of Israel.

    “Rabbi Shteinman was a beacon of spirituality and morality,” Prime
    Minister Netanyahu said in a video address. Everyone who knew him saw
    the great light that radiated from him: the light of the people of
    Israel, of the wisdom of Israel, and of the heritage of Israel.”

    Rav Shteinman was one of the greatest posekim [decisors of Jewish law]
    of our generation, he established generations of students, and they
    and the rest of our people will always remember his memory.”

    Rabbi Shteinman was laid to rest on Tuesday in Bnei Brak. Hundreds of
    thousands of people attended.

    Rav Shteinman’s passing has plunged the greater Torah world into
    mourning. One of the greatest men of the generation has passed on,
    leaving a nation bereft, mourning a leader who personified Torah
    greatness, humility and simplicity.

    Naflah ateres rosheinu.