Dafyomi Advancement Forum

Rabbi Yehudah Meir ben Yakov Shimshon Shapiro
of blessed memory, passed away, 7 Cheshvan 1933

ha'Gaon Rabbi Meir Shapiro  ha'Gaon Rabbi Meir Shapiro
Sadly, Rabbi Meir Shapiro passed away at the young age of 45. Yet his many accomplishments - becoming spriritual leader of one of Poland's largest Jewish cities, representing the Jews in the Polish Senate, conceiving and raising funds for the construction of the famed Chachmei Lublin Torah college, inspiring hundreds of brilliant students, originating and encouraging the worldwide study of Dafyomi - match those of a venerable scholar.

Rav Shapiro's remains were reinterred, along with those of his brother, on Jerusalem's Har ha'Menuchos. The structure in the photo at right houses the relocated graves of Rabbi Yehudah Meir ben Yakov Shimshon Shapiro, and his brother, Rabbi Avraham.

Click for Video of Yahrzeit address Click for audio of Yahrzeit address  Yahrzeit Address, delivered by Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld: Astronomical Gems  
(8 Cheshvan, 5770 / Oct. 26, 2009, in Kollel Iyun Hadaf

Yahrzeit address  Yahrzeit Address, delivered by Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld: Menachos 27  
(7 Cheshvan, 5764 / Nov. 2 2003, at gravesite of Rav Meir Shapiro zt'l)

An excerpt from:

"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.