Thursday, April 21, 2011

Rabbi Dr. Aaron Levine z"l

Just now, I was sitting at my computer working on a Business Ethics shiur for this series, for after Pesach. I looked at some old notes of mine from a previous Business Ethics series, and started researching references from Rabbi Dr. Aaron Levine's book, Case Studies in Jewish Business Ethics.

While looking up the material, I thought about Rabbi Dr. Levine himself; aside from learning from his writing, I was fortunate to sit on an RCA committee on Jewish Business Ethics with him a couple of years ago, and I learned much from the experience. Rabbi Dr. Levine presented a firm vision of the ethical and the realistic, and how to proactively promote ethical conduct in industry. He also took the time to explain his views at length to me, a tyro.

Then, as I was working on this, my Inbox showed a new email, from RIETS Rabbinic Alumni. The Subject line - "Baruch Dayan haEmes - Rabbi Dr. Aaron Levine z"l":

We regret to inform you of the untimely passing of

Husband of Rebbetzin Sarah Levine.

Chairman of the Department of Economics at Yeshiva College &
Rav of the Young Israel of Avenue J in Flatbush.

There was a short service tonight at JFK airport (cago area B, building 23) before the 11:30pm flight to Israel.

The levaya will be in Israel today, Thursday, April 21st, at Eretz Hachayyim Cemetery in Har Tuv (near Bet Shemesh) at 7:30pm.

Rabbi Aaron Levine was the Samson and Halina Bitensky Professor of Economics and chairman of the Department of Economics at Yeshiva College of Yeshiva University. Elected to Phi Beta Kappa at Brooklyn College, he was awarded his MA and PhD by New York University. He was ordained in Jewish ritual and civil law at the Rabbi Jacob Joseph School. A noted authority on Jewish commercial law, Rabbi Levine’s research specialty was the interface between economics and halakha, especially as it relates to public policy and modern business practices. He had published widely on these issues, including five books and numerous monographs. His books include "Free Enterprise and Jewish Law" (1980), "Economics and Jewish Law" (1987), "Economic Public Policy and Jewish Law" (1993) "Case Studies in Jewish Business Ethics" (2000) and "Moral Issues of the Marketplace in Jewish Law" (2005). Rabbi Levine was active in the area of conflict resolution, and serves as an ad hoc rabbinical judge and arbitrator in the bet din of the Rabbinical Council of America. Rabbi Levine was an associate editor of the journal Tradition, a member of the advisory council for the International Center for Jewish Business Ethics and a nominee for the World Jewish Academy of Science. He just recently published a book he edited, The Oxford Handbook of Judaism and Economics, after the 2005 publication.

Shiva will commence following the chag.

We've lost a great thinker, teacher and leader. All I can say is Baruch Dayyan haEmes.


  1. Rabbi Levine was a great man and dear friend. I had the privilege to sit next to him every shabbos for the past 7 ½ years. He was my Rabbi, my mentor, my Chavor. Rabbi Levine was the epitome of chessed. Even though he was sick he always asked about how the other person is doing. He would always ask me how my family was. Rabbi Levine was the essence of torah. He gave his Shabbos Shuir until just a few weeks ago. Even though it was extremely hard and painful for him to come to shul he came anyway. Being he was the Rav he felt he had an obligation to the shul. He did not care about his own pain but cared of others.
    He will surely be missed.

    Alan Gross
    President, Young Israel of Avenue J

  2. My Father Rabbi Dr Reuben Rudman A"H davened in the shul for many years, till his Aliyah. Whenever I would come visit, Rabbi Levine was extremely gracious and a pleasure to talk to. He even one year added me to the Bais Din for selling Chametz. I was also just thinking of him as someone to talk to, since I am preparing a curriculum on Jewish Business Law for Michlalah next year. A Great Loss.
    Zave Rudman

  3. The most honest person I have ever met in my life!!! What a great man. He will be missed.

    Gershon Eisenberger
    One of many students throughout the years.

  4. I have never seen a shul before where the Rav was so loved by all the mitpalilim. Never, ever was anything bad heard about him.

    Besides being my Rav and teacher he was also a colleague. I was able to talk to him and get assistance regarding research that I was doing.

    Besides his avodah at the Young Israel he was also actively involved in various community efforts in Flatbush and Eretz Yisroel.

    He will be sorely missed. His ptira leaves a hole on the hearts of all who knew him.

    H'KBH should bring comfort to his immediate family, the Young Israel family and to the entire Flatbush Community.

  5. Rav Aaron Levine was my Rebbe, my teacher, and my friend. I have no words.
    My deepest sympathies to the Young Israel of Avenue J, Yeshiva University,the Flatbush community, and most of all the entire family.
    What a loss for K'lal Yisroel.

  6. bd"E. A great scholar and man. Brad

  7. Ironically I was also preparing a talk that I'll be giving over Pesach based on Rabbi Levine's work (on Insider Trading in Jewish Law) when I got the email. What an incredible talmid chacham and economist, very humble and an incredible mensch. I majored in Economics at YU just to take all of his classes and I have a lot of hakkarat hatov to him for demonstrating what Torah u'Mada is really about. Moadim l'simcha.

  8. Thank you for commenting. I'm envious of those who knew him so well, and I concur with the general sentiment: It's an incredible loss. Reminds me of the Rav's comments on מי יפליא נזירות ומי יעריך נדרים; when we lose talmidei chachamim of this caliber, I immediately think of all the questions I should have asked them while they were with us...

  9. What was his father's Hebrew name, please?

  10. I did not know him, but this is a moving tribute. Baruch Dayyan ha-Emet.

  11. His father's name was Mordechai.

  12. Young Israel of Ave. J

    Mourns the loss of our
    Mara Da'Asrah
    Rabbi Dr. Aaron Levine Z"L

    Shiva will be observed at the Levine residence

    957 East 19th Street
    Brooklyn, NY 11230

    Maariv Motza’ei Yom Tov: 8:40 PM
    Wednesday and Friday 6:55 AM
    Thursday and Monday 6:45 AM Sunday 8:00 AM

    Mincha and Marriv: 7:35 PM

    Maariv Motz’ei Shabbos: 8:45 PM

    By the family’s request,
    The family will be available during the following hours:

    Wednesday, April 27 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
    Thursday, April 28 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
    Friday, April 29 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM
    Sunday, May 1 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM
    6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

    May the Almighty console the mourners together with the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

  13. Alan-
    Thanks for posting this information. When you get a moment, could you please provide Rabbi Dr. Levine's full Hebrew name and father's name? And is there a plan for a siyyum for his Shloshim?

  14. Harav Aharon ben R' Mordichai