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Home > Secteur-English > General > Rabbi Riskin and political motive against him

Rabbi Riskin and political motive against him

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin is a man who raised himself from poverty to dedicate his life to Torah and more - differences in philosophical or even halakhic approaches should not be used to disqualify one rabbi or another.

Rabbi Riskin was born into an impoverished non-observant family. As a result of a conscious, personal choice, and with the help of his grandmother, he began to forge a path towards Torah and mitzvot at a young age. Because he was a genius and excelled in his studies, he was accepted by the most prestigious university in the world, Harvard, and offered a full scholarship there. Going there would have secured his professional and financial future, as all doors are open to graduates of Harvard. This was an indescribable opportunity. Few would have been able to withstand this temptation. Yet, Rav Shlomo gave up the scholarship and went to study at Yeshiva University. YU also recognized his immense talents and gave him a full scholarship. From that point on, he began dedicating his life to Torah.

As a young, talented, charismatic rabbi, and a gifted orator with the ability to inspire and raise the spirits of his listeners and draw them closer to Torah and mitzvot, Rabbi Riskin was very well established and respected in the United States. Highly successful and intelligent people found his Torah teachings meaningful and were privileged to draw closer to Jewish tradition thanks to him. He spoke the truth of Torah, and he helped many return to their roots. Yet before turning forty, out of a pure belief in God and Torah, he gave it all up, and chose to come to Israel and grace it with his presence. With this decision he also sacrificed one of the basic tools of his trade, the English language, in which he so excelled in America. He learned to speak well in Hebrew too, but in English he is truly one of the greatest speakers.

Thanks to his vision, talents, and leadership, he was able to bring many members of his community to Israel and to establish a city whose spiritual life centers around Torah study and mitzva observance. Its residents are notable for their contributions to Israel’s economy, society, and scientific community and for living a high quality of life. His Aliya influenced thousands of people to follow in his footsteps, people who moved to Efrat and all over the land of Israel, and by doing so strengthened their connection to Torah and mitzvot. In due course, he was able to found schools and educational institutions in Gush Etzion and in Jerusalem for boys and girls. He has done this with boundless energy – he personally visits all the institutions, teaches, tells stories, and generates enthusiasm in the hearts of the students for a life of Torah and mitzvot. However, when he chose to make Aliya, nothing was promised to him. Like our father Jacob, he crossed the Jordan with only his stick in hand.

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