With his flowing white beard, Rabbi Moshe Miller looked the part of the scholar and kabbalist. But more importantly, it’s what he was at his very essence: a lifelong student, teacher, thinker, and guide. Poetically, his soul ascended on the Kabbalistically significant final day of Chanukah, Dec. 26, at the age of 67 in Miami.

Even as illness ravaged his body and weakened him, he continued to teach free online classes, sharing authentic text-based Chassidism and Kabbalah with his worldwide online audience of devoted students.

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, on the second day of Shavuot, 1955, young Moshe attended Jewish primary and high school. Having deeply connected to the mystical teachings of Chabad, he traveled to Israel, where he studied at the central yeshiva in Kfar Chabad for several years.

During those years, he was fully immersed in Torah study, spending days and nights plumbing the depths of Talmud, Kabbalah, and Jewish law.

Yet, in many letters, the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—encouraged him to share his learning with others and positively influence them. This would be a guiding light for him.

Following his marriage to Leah Kestenberg, in 1982, the couple traveled to England, where they joined the faculty of Carmel College, bringing authentic Jewish learning and practice to the students, many of whom had not been raised in observant Jewish homes.

The Millers and their growing brood then spent a decade in Israel, where Rabbi Miller taught at Toras Chaim, a new school for young men who had discovered Judaism later in life.

At one point, after their first son was born following four girls, the Rebbe wrote them a congratulatory message even though they had not yet had a chance to officially inform him of the good news.

A Lifetime of Teaching and Translation

Rabbi Miller’s next post was in Morristown, New Jersey, where he had been invited to head the Kollel, institute for higher learning, attached to Yeshivah Tiferes Bachurim. His final decades were in Chicago, where he was a beloved teacher at Ida Crown Jewish Academy.

“His energy was very gentle and seeing him smiling with the students was special,” says Dovid Goldschmidt, who was a student at Ida Crown. “His very presence gave me a feeling that ‘I’m not alone.’ ”

With his gentle ways and endearing grin, Rabbi Miller uplifted and enlightened all he encountered.
With his gentle ways and endearing grin, Rabbi Miller uplifted and enlightened all he encountered.

He was a prolific author and translator, with more than 20 books to his name on a wide variety of topics, including an authoritative, annotated translation of the Zohar and a translation of Rabbi Moshe Cordovero's classic Tomer Devorah with original commentary and annotation. His most recent work, a Kabbalistic commentary on Song of Songs, is set to be released this coming year.

One of his most prominent contributions is Mishnas Chabad, an encyclopedic overview of the teachings of Chabad, written and organized in a format that is both accessible to the beginner and enlightening to the advanced scholar.

When Ascent-of-Safed founded KabbalahOnline.org (which is now hosted by Chabad.org), it was natural for the editor, Rabbi Yerachmiel Tilles, to tap Miller to write many elements of the site, including much of the “Kabbalah for Beginners,bios of significant Kabbalists, and major pieces on the history and authenticity of the Kabbalah.

“I already miss him, his knowledge, his skills, and his elfish sense of humor,” says Tilles, who praised Miller for his willingness to accept criticism and the effort he put into responding to reader comments on the site.

Ever practical, he applied the wisdom of kabbalah to the everyday human experience, authoring the popular JLI course, "The Kabbalah of Character," and coaching many using a proprietary model he developed.

“His entire world was one of Torah, all parts of the Torah,” says Rabbi Moshe Moscowitz, who would frequently discuss Torah topics with him before services in the synagogue. “There was nothing he was not familiar with, and he always had something interesting and fresh to share.”

In addition to his wife, he is survived by his children, Devoree Akselrod, Nechamee Brody, Tamar Miller, Mushki Golowinski, Yossi Miller and Sholi Miller, and many grandchildren.