Rabbi Shimon Gershon Rosenberg (Shagar), one of the most important spiritual leaders and philosophers of religious Zionism, died in Jerusalem on Sunday, aged 58.
Shagar, head of the Siach Yitzchak yeshiva in the settlement of Efrat, died of cancer after an illness of several months.
Shagar was born in Jerusalem in 1949. He studied in the high school yeshiva Netiv Meir and in hesder yeshivas - a program combining advanced talmudic studies with military service.Later he was the rabbi of the hesder yeshiva Hakotel in Jerusalem's Old City.
In 1987, he was appointed head of the Mekor Haim yeshiva, which was established by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz and put an emphasis on Hasidic studies. At the same time, he served as head of the study hall of the religious Ma'ale School of TV, Film and the Arts in Jerusalem.
Since 1996, Shagar served as head of Siach Yitzchak yeshiva beside Rabbi Yair Dreyfus.
Shagar was considered one of the most important Orthodox Jewish philosophers of our time, and one of the few rabbis who dealt with the significance of the post-modern era. He had a penchant for religious identification with post-modernism on the assumption that breaking with accepted ideologies (which post-modernism represents) enables greater freedom to achieve a higher spiritual level and a mystical experience.
Shagar encouraged his students to study not only the Gemara and Jewish law, as is customary in yeshivas, but also Hasidism, especially the writings of some of the first leaders of the Hasidic Movement, such as Rabbi Nahman of Breslau and the Admor of Izvitza. He saw Hasidism as the reflection of Jewish grappling with questions regarding the soul, which are characteristic of the post-ideological period.
He himself dealt with general philosophy and encouraged his students, especially those who were closer to him, to study humanities such as philosophy and the theater. His yeshiva offered workshops in movement, creative writing and even meditation, in addition to the routine religious studies.
Shagar was laid to rest Monday on the Mount of Olives. He is survived by his widow, six children and a sister.
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