The Most Important Rabbi That Americans Have Never Heard Of
Many people make the mistake of confusing American Centrist or Modern Orthodoxy with Israeli Religious Zionism. While there are major areas of overlap, and certainly an average right-wing YU graduate with a black hat is much closer to Israeli religious Zionist than to Israeli charedi (contrary to what such a person often believes), there are also significant points of difference (which is a topic for another time). It is also the case that the rabbinic leaders of the Israeli religious Zionist community are often virtually unknown outside of Israel.
Rav Eliezer Melamed is one such person. He is the Rosh Yeshivah of Har Beracha and the author of the Peninei Halacha series. In Israel, he is incredibly influential, with over half a million of his halachic works in print (and, unlike many other works, actually read). Yet in the US, he is virtually unheard of, and his sefarim are generally unavailable (though fortunately, Koren Publishers have begun marketing English editions of his works, translated by Rabbi Elli Fischer).
But Rav Melamed is not only important and influential. He is also a Rav whose approach to both halacha and hashkafa is outstanding and will resonate strongly with many US/Anglo Orthodox Jews. It will also come as a welcome surprise to them, especially if they have only previously been exposed to charedi rabbinic authorities. Rav Melamed is also not afraid to speak his mind.
In the past, I have referenced Rav Melamed's extraordinary essay on "Who Are The Gedolei HaTorah?" in which he wrote: "Gadlut beTorah necessitates an all-embracing, fully accountable handling of serious issues facing the generation, including: the attitude towards Am Yisrael in all its diversity and various levels – both religious, and non-religious; the attitude towards mitzvot of yishuv haaretz and the on-going war which has surrounded it for over a century; the attitude towards science and work, and the contemporary social and economic questions." In forthcoming posts, I plan to discuss several aspects of his writings, in particular those on Torah study (from the volume Likkutim I) and on the laws of marital intimacy (from the volume Simchat Habayit V'birchato and the companion Harchavot volume). Meanwhile, if you have a way to get these sefarim from Israel, I highly recommend them!