7th day of Cheshvan, the 13th Cycle rains in the merit of Rabbi Meir Shapiro Ztl’
Important to remember the yahrzeit of a figure Rav Meir Shapiro Ztl’… who has inspired me much these years, with Daf Yomi! (see below for a link & explanation). Today the 7th of Cheshvan, and we were going to pray for rain in Israel (Eretz Yisrael)! Every day the rain comes down for all the Jewish people in his merit with the Daf Yomi 13th cycle, where the life giving rain is Torah, by learning the Talmud Bavli one page a day. This year was the finishing of a 7th year cycle which i personally have tried to stay part of. The rain this year will bring out those special fruits that we all pray and yearn for ! We recommend this special book! about Yehuda Meir Shapiro (or Shapira), (March 3, 1887 – October 27, 1934). He was a prominent Hasidic rabbi and rosh yeshiva, also known as the Lubliner Rav. He is noted for his promotion of the Daf Yomi study program in 1923, and establishing the Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva in 1930. Yehudah Meir Shapiro was born in the city of Suczawa, Austria, in the recent territory of Romania, in 1887. He was a descendant of Rabbi Pinchas Shapiro of Korets. After cheder, Rabbi Shapiro began to study with his grandfather, the Minchas Shai. Another of his early teachers was Rabbi Shulem Moshkovitz (popularly known as the Sitzutzer Rebbe. He was also a well known kabbalist). Shapiro began to get a reputation, and became known as the Illui of Shatz. From an early age, he was known as an outstanding leader and gifted speaker.
He was soon ordained by many great scholars, including Rabbi Sholom Mordechai and the Cohen of Brezhin (the Maharsham). He was appointed Rabbi of Gliniany at the age of 24, founding a yeshiva there – a pattern he would repeat in Sanok and Petrakov.
The poseik of the generation, the Maharsham of Barzen was so impressed by Rav Meir during a visit through his town, that he wrote in a letter that he made a bracha on seeing this young talmid chochom. At age 17 on Lag BaOmer, Rav Meir gave an impromtu drasha tying together the sayings of Rav Shimon bar Yochai throughout Shas, at the behest of the Vizhnitzer Rebbe.
After his marriage Rav Meir sat and learned but his fame grew far and wide. Although only 19 years old, offers for Rabbinic positions started coming his way. He steadfastly refused until at the urging of his Rebbe, Rav Yisroel Friedman of Chortkov, at the tender age of 23, he finally relented and accepted the position of Rav of Galina, a town near Lemberg. Rav Meir was a lifelong Chosid of the Chortkover Rebbe, always humbling himself before him, to his dying day. It was said that Rav Meir’s awe for his Rebbe was the true model of Chassidus.
Rav Meir was fiery leader with a brilliant mind, clear vision, and a golden tongue that helped him along. In every position he took up, he reorganized and turned ailing towns and cities into a thriving community and a Makom Torah. His main priority always was staring yeshivos and organizing Chadarim for the children to learn. This was feat he accomplished in revitalizing Galina, Sanok, Pietrikov, and finally Lublin. Along the way he spent time in the Polish Parliament and was a chief spokesman for the newly formed Agudas Yisroel.
The two achievements that will forever be tied to his name are the Daf Yomi and Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin. In 1923, at the second Knessia Gedola, Rav Meir introduced his idea of the Daf Yomi. Just imagine, he said, a Yid spends 2 weeks up on boat keeping up with Daf Yomi and after arriving in New York he can immediately join a group a Yidden holding in the same place he is! What was amazing was the quick start that it got off to. In Radin, when asked by the Chofetz Chaim, Rav Meir told him that over 150,000 people were learning Daf Yomi. The Chofetz Chaim expressed his jealousy.
The Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin was Rav Meir’s final jewel in his crown and took up every moment of his time for the last 12 or so years of his life. He dreamed of building a modern Yeshiva in Galicia for boy to sit and learn as kings. No more begging for a piece of bread or a bed to sleep in. All their needs would be provided under one roof and they would devote all their energies to Torah. On Lag Ba’Omer 1923 all of Galician Jewry had their eyes turned to the city of Lublin, where the cornerstone laying celebration took place for Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin. Tzaddikim and baalei batim swarmed upon the city to witness this historic event. The Chortkover Rebbe had the honor of laying the first stone.
Once the celebration was over there was much work to do. For the next 7 years Rav Meir Shapiro did not rest as he worked on fulfilling his dream and the dream of Klal Yisroel. At times he almost gave up on raising the enormous funds needed. In 1930, after long and exhausting fund raising trips through Europe and then to America, after 800 drashos, 600 committees formed, and 35,000 tzedoka boxes distributed, Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin became a reality. The Chanukas HaBayis was a spectacle of Kavod HaTorah for the ages.
The Yeshiva itself had a high standard with entrance requirement of knowing 200 Daf by heart. Rav Meir tended to his boys with the utmost devotion. Recent luminaries who learned there include Rav Pinchos Hirshprung and Rav Chaim Kreiswirth zt”l as well as ybc”l Rav Shmuel Vosner.
His first rabbinical posting came at the age of 23, when he was appointed Rabbi of Galina. He spent ten years in the city, in which time he established a yeshiva called Bnei Torah. Construction commenced in 1920. The Yeshiva held a Talmud Torah, a place to train rabbis, and a kitchen to feed orphaned children. It ran at a budget of over half a million marks. This Yeshivah was served as a prototype for what was later to become Chachmei Lublin.
After leaving Galina, Rabbi Shapiro began serving as Rabbi of Sanok.
His next rabbinical position was in Petrakov.
On 14 June 1931, he was appointed Rabbi of Lubin in the old synagogue of the Maharshal.
Rabbi Shapiro founded the revolutionary idea of Daf Yomi (Heb. דף יומי ”page [of the] day” or “daily folio”), a daily regimen undertaken to study the Babylonian Talmud one folio (a daf consists of both sides of the page) each day. Under this regimen, the entire Talmud is completed, one day at a time, in a cycle of seven and a half years. Rabbi Shapiro introduced his idea Sunday 19 August 1923 during the Kenesia Gedola (Great Assembly) of the first international Aguda convention in Vienna. Daf Yomi has been taken up since by thousands of Jews worldwide.
Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin
Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva was, along with Daf Yomi, the largest achievement of Rabbi Shapiro. He conceived of a yeshiva for Chassidic Poland, modeled on Lithuanian yeshivahs such as Volozhin, Slaboidka and Novardok, but which would train Chassidic rabbis as the next generation to lead Polish Jewry. The Yeshiva was housed in a massive building, housed hundreds of students and had a vast library of over 100,000 books. On May 22–28, 1924, the cornerstone laying ceremony took place for the construction of the yeshiva building. Approximately 20,000 people participated in the event. The opening ceremony took place on June 24–25, 1930. Apart from thousands of local Jews, around 10,000 people arrived from all over Poland and abroad. Rabbi Shapiro served as the yeshiva’s teacher and rosh yeshiva until his death.
In 1932 Shapiro was approached by leaders of the Jewish Community of Łódź, who wanted to offer him the position of Chief Rabbi of Łódź. Many people wanted to appoint Rabbi Mendel Alter of Kalish, (b. 1877, Ger) the brother to the Gerrer Rebbe (and youngest son of the Sfas Emes) to this position. Rabbi Shapiro negotiated that a large part of his wage would go to pay off the debts that Chachmei Lublin was still struggling to pay off. Eventually it was decided to give it to Rabbi Shapiro. After all the protracted negotiation that went on to get Rabbi Shapiro into this position, he died three days after being appointed Chief Rabbi.
Whilst serving in Galina, Rabbi Shapiro began his involvement with Agudat Israel. He was present at its founding conference in 1912. In 1914 he was appointed head of the Education Department of Agudas Yisrael in East Galicia, becoming president in 1922 of Agudas Yisrael in Poland. He played a role in the conference in the city of Lvov, which had the purpose of launching the Aguda in Galacia, some two years after its founding in Katovitz in 5672.
At the time, he was also added as a member to the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah. Rabbi Shapiro was initially very doubtful as to whether he should become an MP for the party, but was encouraged to do so by his rebbe, the Chortkover.
Rabbi Shapiro, together with Aron Levine and Zalmen Sirtzokin, chaired the committee which as a part of the Polish Ministry for Religious Affairs, held responsibility for delegating Rabbinical positions throughout Poland. He was also part of the Vaad HaChinuch.
Beginning in 1922, Rabbi Shapiro served as a parliamentarian to the Polish Sejm. In 1928 he stepped down as a politician so that he could devote all his energies to Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva.
Rabbi Shapiro became ill with typhus in 1933 and died within a month on 27 October 1933 at the age of 46. His death was marked by popular mourning across Jewish and non-Jewish Poland. Countless newspapers across the entire political spectrum, from Orthodox toYiddishist to socialist, featured front-page biographies of Rabbi Shapiro.
Rabbi Shapiro’s remains were reinterred in Israel in 1958, under the auspices of his brother. He was reburied in Har HaMenuchot with a full ceremony. Rabbi Yitzchok Meir Levin delivered a eulogy, as did those students of his who had survived the Holocaust.
Rabbi Shapiro is widely revered throughout the Jewish world as the founder of Daf Yomi. An area of Bnei Brak called Zikron Meir was established by Yaakov Halperin in honor of Rabbi Shapiro. It is the area that hosts all the major yeshivas in Bnei Brak.
Rabbi Shapiro is primarily remembered today as a leader, the founder of Daf Yomi, and founder of Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva, he was aso considered a gaon in his lifetime. He studied Torah extensively and was a great scholar even by the high standards of the era he lived in. His two major works are Ohr HaMeir and Imrei Da’as.
- Ohr HaMeir – It was in Petrakov that he printed his book of responsa entitled Ohr HaMeir in 1926. As a work it operates on many different subjects, from philosophy to halacha.
- Imrei Daas – a compilation of Torah thoughts on Halacha and Aggada, which was lost in World War II. The book contained an approbation from The Gaon Rabbi Meir Arik of Meturnah.
- Vortelach – Rabbi Shapiro was a quick and brilliant thinker, and his numerous vortelach (short responsa) have been collected in numerous volumes, and quoted in many books.
- thanks to http://en.wikipedia.org/ for the info !
“A Blaze in the Darkening Gloom”
The life of Rav Meir Shapiro
Feldheim Publishers, 1994 (from p. 365)
The Yiddish manuscript upon which this book is based was written in 1934 by a student of Rav Shapiro’s, Rav Yehoshua Baumol, who was killed in the Holocaust. The manuscript was translated into English by Charles Wengrow for publication by Feldheim publishers.
The Great Rabbi Meir Shapiro’s Last Moments
The hour of night grew later and later. On a piece of paper he asked that he be shown all the prescriptions which the doctors had written. When they were handed him, he went through them and selected the one for a preparation to cleanse the throat and the respiratory organs and he asked that a new supply be gotten for him. Every few minutes he kept washing his hands while his mind was obviously immersed in distant thoughts. The evident struggle that he had to make to draw breath was heartbreaking. One could feel the frightul, racking agony that he had to undergo to try to get a bit of air into his lungs, and try as he would, he kept failing, because the channels were blocked.
On a piece of paper, her scrawled a request to be carried into another chamber that he designated by its number (“Room number so-and-so”). Interestingly, that room had two doors, each with the name of an organization that had contributed money toward its construction. One door bore the name of the Bikur Cholim society (for care of the sick) of Chicago; the other, of the Chesed Shel Emes Society (for proper Jewish burial) of St. Louis.
When the transfer was accomplished, he asked for a change into a clean shirt and a fresh Talit Katan (a four-cornered garment with Tzitzis, ritual fringes, at the corners). Needless to say, his wishes were carried out. But then his wife, the Rabanit, noticed a change in his countenance, and she began weeping emotionally. Rav Meir did his best to calm her, as he wrote the message, “Now the true Simcha begins”…
In a broken, barely legible scrawl he wrote, “Let everyone drink l’Chayim!” Some liquor was poured out into tiny glasses, and all who were there drank and wished him l’Chayim, “to life!” Then he shook hands with them all, one by one, holding each one’s hand in his for a long time. And now he gave his instruction, “Make a Rikud (a little Chassidic dance) to the words, ‘b’Cha Batchu Avoseinu’ (“In You our fathers trusted, and You rescued them”; Tehilim 22:5). His wishes were obeyed: they joined hands, put hands on shoulders, and lifted their feet in rhythm as they sang the holy words to the melody they knew so well – the melody which he himself had composed.
It was clear that the end was approaching. Into the great Shul (the Hall of Prayer) the young scholars came streaming now to say Tehilim, to implore Heaven’s mercy for him../.
[As he noticed some of the dancing students sobbing,] clearly and distinctly he pronounced two Yiddish words: “Nor b’Simcha” (“Only with joy!”); then he snapped his fingers — and expired. He passed over and away and out of his body. And he was gone from us.
“Zecher Tzazdik l’Vrachah” – May the memory of the righteous be a blessing to all of Israel, and may we see, in his merit, the final redemption arrive speedily in our days.
A young man from a secular background came before the Baba Sali, zl.
He was in a wheelchair, as a result of an injury sustained as a soldier in the Yom Kippur War. He had one leg that was mobile. The other leg was completely paralyzed, leaving him to rely on a wheelchair for mobility. He came before the sage to seek his blessing.
The Baba Sali asked him, “Do you put on Tefillin every day?” The young man replied that he did not.
The strength we have to function originates from Hashem. If we do not carry out His will, how can we expect to exist?”
When the young man heard these stern words, he began to weep uncontrollably. The Baba Sali looked at him and asked, “If I bless you with health, will you accept upon yourself the yoke of mitzvos?”
“Yes! Yes!” replied the young man. “Hold onto my hands, and I will bless you.” the Baba Sali declared.
The young man did as he was told, and then kissed the hands of the sage. “Rise up from your chair and walk across the room,” the Baba Sali instructed.
To everyone’s surprise, and to the shock of the young man, he crossed the room on his own, as if he had never had an impediment.
Afterwards, the Baba Sali remarked to his grandson that when a Jew accepts upon himself to correct his shortcomings, the force of the emunah exhibited by this acceptance will intercede before Hashem to grant a miracle in his behalf.
True belief generates true response. Moshiach NOW!!!
The light continues on and we pray for more rain during this 13th cycle -> 12th-dafyomi-siyum-hashas-the-english-language-siyum-in-yerushalayim-with-the-participation-of-the-gedolei-hador-shlita!