MY BROTHER, PROFESSOR AVRAHAM GREENFIELD (1934-2016).
Our parents emigrated from Hungary to the USA in 1929. Father served as a community rabbi in several small towns, including Portsmith, Virginia, where there was no Jewish education. So Avi was sent to the Lubavitch yeshivah in New York until after bar mitsvah. In 1948 the family moved to Detroit, Michigan, where Avi studied at Yeshivah Beth Yehudah until entering Wayne State University to major in physics.
Avi was both sincerely religious and interested in science. His original mind that thought "out of the box" helped him later make innovations in both Torah and science topics. He continued his physics studies at the University of Chicago, and he married Betty Eisenberg. After receiving his doctorate, he got a research position at Bell Labs, a premier research institution.
In 1965 he and some colleagues decided to make aliyah--pioneers before the post-1967 wave of American immigrants. Bar-Ilan University gave them positions to set up a research-level physics department, which they did soon after their arrival in 1967.
Alongside his career, Avi became interested in the subject of halakhic measures, such as the cubit, k'zayit, agudel, and r'viit. For several hundred years, since the time of the Noda b'Yehudah, there had been an apparent contradiction between the different measures used in Jewish law. With one original idea--to measure the agudel by its thickness rather than its width--he showed that all of the measures agreed with one another. His work generated considerable stir in the Torah community. Great rabbis, including Yaakov Yisrael Fischer and Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, endorsed his conclusions. Avi showed that his cubit of 46 centimeters was in agreement with many Torah sources, as well as with archeological evidence such as the measurement of the length of King Hizkiyahu's tunnel.
Avi went on to investigate the boundaries of the biblical Land of Israel, a subject of considerable controversy. He showed that the boundaries mentioned in Numbers 34:1-15 are the same as those promised to our patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Avi also examined the boundaries according to the prophecy of Ezekiel that sets several constrictions on the Land of Israel, such as equal areas and shorelines to each tribe, and the position and inheritance of the tribe of Levi. Using his size of the cubit, with brilliant insight he drew a map of the Land of Israel that agrees with all the requirements. He also showed that his boundaries agree with various other sources, such as the Geonim.
Avi was not only an expert in middot (measures), he was also a baal middah, a kind, humble, thoughtful, and friendly person willing to help one and all. In his quiet way, he never ran after honor, always treating every person with respect and taking interest in their well-being. He and his wife, Betty, who stood behind him throughout their marriage, raised a magnificent family.
May his memory be for a blessing.
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|Title Annotation:||In Memoriam|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2017|
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