🕯 Reb Meir Zlotowitz zt’l (1943-2017) – 30th of Sivan

June 23, 2020

One cannot help but mention the fact that today is the yahrtzeit of one of the most influential human beings that have ever lived. I do not think I am overstating the overall impact that Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz zt’l, and his “secret dream” had on Klal Yisroel…

The problem is that there just isn’t enough that can be said about him or about his contribution to the world. After much debate as to whether or not I should try to express some musical perspective on the modern-day Torah Illuminator, I have concluded that I would be remiss if I did not. I would not dare attempt to summarize a life lived to its fullest in the service of Hashem and His People. What I could possibly put to words has already been said before by those of much, much, much, MUCH higher stature and by those who actually knew and adored this great man.

To say that Artscroll changed the way Torah is studied and the way Tefillah is recited would be a gross understatement. There is likely not a Jewish home to be found that does not contain at least one book with the familiar quill and scroll emblem painted on its side. The amount of Torah that is learned and the amount of mitzvah observance that exists because of Reb Meir, can neither be fathomed nor measured. The affect that he has had on my life alone would be impossible to express in this format – suffice it to say that it has changed my life and the lives of my wife and children in a profound way.

Quite appropriately, today’s Daf (Shabbos 108) tells of the very first encounter between two great Amora’im, Rav and Shmuel. Rav was a great scholar from Eretz Yisroel and Shmuel from Bavel. When the time came for a new Rosh Yeshiva, Rav refused the position in reverence to the great Shmuel, opting instead to travel to a place so desolate of Torah, that he himself would teach the simple communities he traversed the very basics of Yiddishkeit – Aleph-Beis, bassar b’chalav, issur v’heter, etc.

However, it is important to note that Rav was not born with the name “Rav,” rather his name was actually Abba, and was only later given the title of Rav after establishing himself as one of the premier Torah disseminators of all time. If you want to know the definition of a Rav, find someone who teaches the young and the old, the rich and the poor, the wise and the ignorant. That’s who Rav was – that’s who Reb Meir was. I found the message to be very timely indeed.

Since Moshe Rabeinu himself, many have come along and have taught us how to learn. However, few others, in the timeline of history, have come along and revolutionized the way we learn all the while enabling the spreading of Torah to the four corners of the globe. In recent times, The Lubliner Rav, Rav Meir Shapiro comes to mind. As the “father of Daf Yomi,” Rav Shapiro was a luminary in the widespread learning of Torah Sheba’al Peh.

And most recently, Rav Meir Zlotowitz, the man who “revealed the light of Torah and tefillah to a new generation.” “Mi’Meir v’ad Meir, lo kam k’Meir b’Yisroel.” Besides for the similarity in names, both Rav Shapiro and Rav Zlotowitz successfully carried out lasting visions with the help of Hashem’s precise Hashgacha; visions that they would both merit to see its fruits and ultimately, reap its Divine reward.

And so, while today marks the third yahrtzeit of Harav Meir Yaakov ben Hagaon Harav Aharon zt’l, Reb Meir Zlotowitz is still very much alive. The Torah that is being learned in the halls of almost every study hall and home in the world is in some part, whether big or small, due to the work of this tremendous Tzaddik.

As we know, Tzaddikim, even after their lifetime, are considered living and the reason is pretty self-explanatory. Their Torah, their lessons, their essence lives on in those who follow their direction and by those who learn from their ways. I, for one, owe Reb Meir Zlotowitz a huge debt of gratitude for making Torah accessible to someone like me and for reigniting my love for learning, every single day.

Today’s song choice, Chaim, is sung by Lipa Schmeltzer on his Me’umka D’Lipa album from 2010. The song was composed by Moshe Leib Lax – a fascinating personality himself. The original tune was to the words “Nafshi cholas ahavasecha…” but following his father’s passing, Moshe changed the words to the final product you hear on the album. Based on the pasuk in Shmuel Beis (1:23), these words convey the comforting knowledge that a Tzaddik never dies, but continues to live on forever. May Reb Meir be a meilitz yosher for his entire family and for each and every one of us.

Yehi zichro baruch – may his name always be remembered as a blessing.

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