🕯 HaGaon Rav Yehuda Meir Shapiro zt’l, The Lubliner Rav (1887-1933) – 7th of Cheshvan

October 12, 2021

On Wednesday, January 1st, 2020, a young man in his thirties was spending the afternoon with his wife and children near their home in Yerushalayim. After many hours of fun, it had begun to get dark outside, so they all got into their car and headed home to begin the usual nighttime routine.

It had been a long day, and he was looking forward to finally putting his feet up for a bit. But after entering the house, it suddenly dawned on him that in just a couple hours, some 100,000 Yidden would be gathering in MetLife Stadium and Barclays Center to celebrate the 13th Siyum HaShas! He wasn’t sure why the thought had entered his mind to begin with, but he wondered: ‘how could I just sit at home on this incredible day? Shouldn’t someone go to Rav Meir Shapiro’s kever to celebrate the Siyum HaShas with him? It is HIS siyum, after all!’

“All right. Back in the car, everyone!” he announced. So, the whole family piled back into the car and off they went. He didn’t live far from Har HaMenuchos and it didn’t take long to get there. However, he had never been to Rav Meir Shapiro’s kever before so he didn’t quite know where to go once he arrived at the Beis Hachaim. It was pitch dark and the place was empty. Nobody to ask. No signs in sight. Even a quick search on his phone yielded no results.

It was getting late and they were growing more tired, cold, and hungry by the minute. ‘Why did I even come out here? I don’t learn The Daf – in fact, I don’t learn much of anything at all! Sadly, my American schedule doesn’t allow for a consistent chavrusa-shaft; the long workdays hardly leave time for any spiritual growth whatsoever! But I WANT to learn. I WANT to grow. I came here to daven at the kever of a tzaddik who taught us that consistency is the key. He taught us that what is even more important than the Daf, is the Yomi… and I want to be a part of it.

Just then, he spotted some chassidim davening with their Rebbe at the kever of the Chida. He waited until they were finished and asked them in his best Hebrew where Rav Meir Shapiro was buried. They pointed him in the right direction, and a short car-ride later, they came to an edifice that was clearly designed to resemble Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin. He knew he had arrived.

Meanwhile, nearly 6,000 miles away, over 100,000 Yidden had just begun the Siyum HaShas festivities in New York – an enormous display of commitment and Kiddush Hashem, transforming The Lubliner Rav’s dream into reality one page at a time. But here, on Har HaMenuchos, the young man stood alone. He approached the kever and trembled in awe before the man who had made it all possible. He davened. He cried. He begged Hashem for a chelek of His precious Torah. He wanted – NEEDED – to make learning a part of his life, and he davened that the merit of Rav Yehuda Meir Shapiro should propel him in this spiritual endeavor…

With no words left to be said, and no tears left to be shed, the young father of three quietly took leave of the ohel. He carefully retraced his steps down the moonlit steps, got back in the car, and took his family home.

The very next day, after he happened upon R’ Sruly Bornstein and his high-octane Lakewood Daf Yomi shiur (which is an entirely different story in and of itself), he began the 14th global cycle of Shas with Brachos daf beis and hasn’t missed a daf since. Today, eight masechtos later, he still savors each blatt as if it were his first. Each volume of Gemara becomes his best friend, as one by one they testify that he has touched every page. In turn, he can attest that every page has truly touched him as well.

And how do I know all of this is true?

Because the young man in the story…………is me.

By now, there is very little that hasn’t been written about the great R’ Meir Shapiro zt’l. His Yiras Shomayim and Ahavas Yisroel were legendary, his brilliance and charisma were unmatched, and his revolutionary contributions to limud haTorah cannot be overstated. But of all Rav Meir’s great accomplishments, perhaps least known today is his music. He composed scores of nigunim at every phase of his short life – nigunim that gave him and his talmidim strength in the face of their challenges, and joy in their moments of celebration.

Songs of Reb Meir Shapiro, zt’l is a medley of some of his most well-known compositions (Zara Chaya, B’cha Botchu, Utzu Eitzah, V’sigoleh, Ashrei Adam and Yiboneh Hamikdash), sung by R’ Abish Brodt and child soloist Amit Listvand, and was arranged and presented by Suki & Ding on their 2005 release entitled Vezos Hatorah. {The original version of the medley includes “Tzomo Nafshi” and was previously recorded for their 1997 album Siyum HaShas – A Musical Celebration following the completion of the 10th Daf Yomi cycle.}

Yehei Zichro Baruch, Zechuso Yagen Aleinu

Rav Meir Shapiro zt’l in the famous oitzer of Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin
A poster of welcome at the second Siyum HaShas in 1938, held in Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin, though its Rosh Yeshiva was no longer with them
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