I generally try to steer away from superlatives, but anyone with any familiarity with the teaching, the character, the ethical fiber, the psychological sensitivity, the erudition, the sophistication and the purity of Rav Aharon Lichtenstein will be hard-pressed to avoid superlatives. For he is simply one of the greatest Rabbis of our times, if not the greatest.
Who in the world today can boast the mastery of the entire gamut of the Rabbinic cannon, at the same time as boasting a mastery, appreciation, and sensitivity to the fruits of the Western intellectual and cultural tradition? In fact, 'boast' is certainly the wrong word because Rav Lichtenstein's humility is as spell-binding as his intellectual stature.
By His Light is a collection of essays that offers a relatively succinct and yet profound introduction to all of these elements of Rav Aharon. The sensitive reader cannot fail to be impressed by the array of topics that he covers with such sophistication, creativity and laser-sharp insight. Furthermore, as one reads these essays, one starts to catch a glimpse of the persona of the thinker that produced them: a person who is very much in touch with the human condition, hugely insightful and intellectual, and yet living a life of faith that is refreshingly child-like in its purity and simplicity.
The two volume Leaves of Faith is also a fantastic and important collection, but this book, By His Light, is perhaps the better introduction.
(Posted on 8/9/2017)