- Aharon Kotler
full name =Aharon Kotler
place of birth=
place of death=
New York City
date of birth = 1891 (5651)
date of death =death date and age|1962|11|29|1891|1|1 (2 Kislev 5723)| Rabbi Aharon (or Ahroyn, Aaron, Aron) Kotler (1891 - 1962) was a prominent leader of
Orthodox Judaismin Lithuania, and later the United States of America, where he built one of the first yeshivas in the US.
RabbiKotler was born in Svislovitz, Polandin 1891. He studied in the Slabodka yeshivain Lithuaniaunder the "Alter (elder) of Slabodka", Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, and Rabbi Moshe Mordechai Epstein. After learning there, he joined his father-in-law, Rabbi Isser Zalman Meltzer, to run the yeshivaof Slutsk.
World war II and move to the USA
When the communists took over, the yeshivah moved from
Slutskto Kletskin Poland. With the outbreak of World War II, Rabbi Kotler and the yeshivah relocated to Vilna, then the major refuge of most "yeshivoth" from the occupied areas. Rabbi Kotler went to the United States via Siberia, but many of his students did not survive the war. He was brought to America in 1941 by the Vaad Hatzalahrescue organization and guided it during the Holocaust.
In 1943, Rabbi Kotler founded
Bais Medrash Gevohain Lakewood, New Jersey. After his sudden death in 1962, he was succeeded by his son Rabbi Shneur Kotleras rosh yeshivaof the Lakewood yeshiva. Today, this important institution is run by his grandson, Rabbi Aryeh Malkiel Kotler, and three of his grandsons-in-law, Rabbis Yerucham Olshin, Yisrael Neuman, and Dovid Tzvi Schustal. Over the years it has grown into the largest institution of its kind in America with over five thousand college and advanced-level students.
Rabbi Kotler also helped establish
Chinuch Atzmai, the independent religious school system in Israel and was the chairman of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorahof Agudath Israel. He also chaired the Rabbinical administration board of Torah Umesorahand was on the presidium of the Agudas HaRabbonimof the U.S. and Canada.
Upon the death of his father-in-law, Rabbi Isser Zalman Meltzer, he also inherited his father-in-law's position of rosh yeshiva of
Etz Chaim Yeshivaof Jerusalem. In an unusual arrangement, he held this position while continuing to live in America, and visiting Jerusalem occasionally. Today, his grandson, Rabbi Zevulun Schwartzman, heads a kollel located at Etz Chaim Yeshiva.
Rabbi Kotler was the main proponent of a classic approach to
Torah studythat was new to the shores of the USA. In his view, Torah study and the culture built around it had suffered badly from the persecutions of World War II and the decline of character of the generations. This led him to encourage young men to devote themselves to full-time Torah study with financial support from the community. After marriage, yeshivastudents could move on to a post-graduate kollelprogram.
Together with Rabbis
Moshe Feinstein, Yaakov Kamenetsky, Joseph Soloveitchikand others, Rabbi Kotler was considered one of the primary leaders of the Orthodox community in the U.S. during the post-war years.
In the summer of 1937, at the third convention of the rabbinical leaders of
Agudath Israelheld in Marienbad, Rabbi Kotler (together with Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman, Rabbi Rottenberg from Antwerp, and rabbis from Czechoslovakiaand Hungary) was adamant in rejecting any proposal for a " Jewish State" on either side of the Jordan River, even if it were established as a religious state. Nevertheless, on a vote, the majority decided in favour of a Jewish state.
Rabbi Kotler died in
New York Cityon November 29, 1962.
Recently a biographical study of Rabbi Kotler's life and teachings was written by his student Rabbi Yitzchok Dershowitz.
* [http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/kotler.html Jewish virtual library about Aharon Kotler (1895-1963)]
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