Rabbi Moshe Shmuel Shapiro

Rabbi Moshe Shmuel Shapira  was a Rosh Yeshiva and important rabbinic figure in Israel

Born: 1917, Minsk, Belarus
Died: April 25, 2006, Israel, 2006

Rabbi Moshe Shmuel Shapira (1917–2006) was a Rosh Yeshiva and important rabbinic figure in Israel. His father, Rabbi Aryeh Shapira, was the son of Rabbi Refael Shapiro of Volozhin and grandson of Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin (the Netziv.) His mother was a descendant of Rabbi Yom Tov Lipman Heilpern of Bialystock (1816–1879), a descendant of Rabbi Yom-Tov Lipmann Heller. Even though his father was the Dayan of Białystok, Poland, Rav Moshe Shmuel was born in the city of Minsk, Belarus while his family was escaping the horrors of World War I.

After the war, the Shapira family returned to Białystok where Rav Moshe Shmuel studied in the local Yeshiva. Rabbi Chaim Brisker,Rav Moshe Shmuel's uncle, frequented the Shapira residence. In 1933, Rav Moshe Shmuel left home to study in the Yeshiva in Baranovich under the tutelage of Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman. Rabbi Shmuel Berenbaum, the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Mir attests to the special relationship which existed between Moshe Shmuel and Rav Elchonon. Even after Rav Moshe Shmuel left Baranovichi, he continued corresponding with Rav Elchonon.

In the summer of 1936 Rav Moshe Shmuel moved to Yeshivas Mir where he immediately gained a reputation as having potential for leading the Torah world and was recognized by Rabbi Yerucham Levovitz. Rav Moshe Shmuel joined students older than himself in sleeping arrangements, despite his young age compared to them. He developed a friendship with such Torah scholars as Rabbi Yonah Karpilov of Minsk (who was murdered in the Holocaust) and Rabbi Aryeh Leib Malin. In 1937, Rav Moshe Shmuel reached the age of army conscription and had to flee Poland. He moved to Israel.

In Israel, Rav Moshe Shmuel attended Yeshivas Lomzha in Petah Tikva, where Rabbi Yechezkel Levenstein recognized his potential. During this time in Lomzha, Rabbi Elazar Shach was the main Talmudic lecturer, while Rabbi Moshe Shmuel and Rabbi Shmuel Rozovsky delivered other specialized lectures in the Talmud studies. During this time, Rabbi Moshe Shmuel was the teacher of many Rabbis including Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky.

When Rabbi Moshe Shmuel's first cousin, the Brisker Rov moved to Jerusalem, Rabbi Moshe Shmuel developed a strong relationship with him and helped publicize the Brisker methods. He was given special access to writings from his cousin and his uncle, Reb Chaim Brisker, which he incorporated into his own understandings of various Gemara sugyas. Rabbi Moshe Shmuel was the main editor of the works of the Brisker Rov on Kodoshim.

Rav Moshe Shmuel was granted semicha by Rabbi Isser Zalman Meltzer.

During this period he also became very close to the Chazon Ish. After his marriage in 1946, Rabbi Moshe Shmuel spent one year learning the Chazon Ish's Kollel (known as Kollel Chazon Ish and then was hired to deliver Talmudic lectures in Yeshivas Kol Torah for three years. At the behest of the Chazon Ish, Rabbi Moshe Shmuel joined Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe in establishing Yeshivas Be'er Yaakov. He was also the Chief Rabbi of Ramle, the town where his Yeshiva was located, for a short time before resigning because it took away too much time from running his Yeshiva.

Rabbi Moshe Shmuel consulted with the Chazon Ish and Brisker Rov on all the Yeshiva's matters. In 1953, on the day of the death of the Chazon Ish, Rabbi Moshe Shmuel held a two-hour conversation in Torah with the aging sage.

In 1968, Rabbi Moshe Shmuel was repeatedly asked to join the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah by Rabbi Yisrael Alter, the Gerrer Rebbe and Rabbi Yechezkel Sarna. Eventually he acceded to their request when the latter paid him a personal visit.

May the merit of the tzaddik Rabbi Moshe Shmuel Shapira  protect us all, Amen

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