SHAPIRA, AVRAHAM ELKANA KAHANA (1917– ), Israeli religious leader and former chief rabbi. Shapira was born in Jerusalem, where he studied at Yeshivat Eẓ Ḥayyim and then at Hevron Yeshivah under Rabbi Moses Mordechai Epstein and Rabbi Ezekiel Sarna. After his marriage, Shapira was invited to teach at the Merkaz ha-Rav Yeshivah, where he remained for over 50 years. In his youth, he was friendly with Avraham Yeshayahu Karelitz (the Ḥazon Ish), Ẓevi Pesaḥ Frank, Isaac Zev Soloveitchik, and Isser Zalman Meltzer. In 1956, he was appointed to the Rabbinic Bet Din in Jerusalem. In 1974, he joined the High Rabbinic Court, joining the Rabbinic Council of the Chief Rabbinate in 1980. Three years later he was elected Ashkenazi chief rabbi, serving until the end of his term in 1993. In 1982, after the death of Rabbi Ẓevi Judah Kook, son of the founder of Merkaz ha-Rav, the venerated Rabbi Abraham Isaac ha-Kohen Kook, a power struggle ensued over the post of rosh yeshivah. In the end, Shapira was named the rosh yeshivah at Merkaz ha-Rav, as opposed to Rav Ẓevi Tau. The tension between them continued with the appointment of Shapira's son as the executive director of the yeshivah and was further exacerbated by Shapira's emphasis on teaching more Talmud and less Bible and Jewish thought at the yeshivah. The bubble finally burst in 1997, when Shapira decided to allow Merkaz ha-Rav students to attend courses at the yeshivah leading to a teaching certificate. Tau, along with a number of other teachers and a good number of students, broke away from Merkaz ha-Rav and formed his own yeshivah, Har ha-Mor. During his term as chief rabbi and afterwards as well, Shapira, together with his colleague, Chief Rabbi mordechai eliyahu , became the spiritual leader of the religious Zionist camp in Israel. Thus, for over 20 years, he spoke out on political and social issues of concern to religious Zionism. During the events leading up to the Israeli government's disengagement from Gaza in 2005, Shapira was a vocal opponent of the removal of the Jews from their homes and the uprooting of Jewish communities in Gaza. Shapira even issued a halakhic decision forbidding IDF soldiers from obeying commands to participate in the actual disengagement. Of the hundreds of religious soldiers that participated in the removal of the Jews, fewer than 40 refused to obey their officers' commands. Shapira's first published work was Zekher Yiẓḥak, an edition of the responsa of Isaac Jacob Rabinowitz of Ponevezh (1948). In 1989, his collected lectures on the Talmud, Shi'urei Maran ha-Gaon Rav Avraham Shapira, appeared in six volumes. From 1990 to 2003, three volumes of Shapira's essays were published, titled Minḥat Avraham. Morashah, a further collection of essays, appeared in 2005. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: <> . (David Derovan (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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