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Life Song Of A Soul

Nosson Weiss

We tend to associate song with Chassidim, and rightfully so. Seldom does one hear of a Litvishe Rosh Yeshiva who sings, let alone one who composes songs. Yet Rav Moshe Shmuel Shapiro, Rosh Yeshivah of Be’er Yaakov and one of the leading Gedolim of Eretz Yisrael, was known not only for his genius in learning, but for the soul-stirring melodies that he transmitted to the generation. Five years after his petirah, two grandchildren reveal the source and sentiment behind his singing.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Jerusalem’s ancient alleyways were nearly empty, and only a small group of tourists still walked the streets. Hearing an enchanting, heart-piercing melody, they stopped short. Only when they drew near could they see the gadol hador, singing ancient words, seeming like one of the Prophets of old.

As far as Rav Moshe Shmuel Shapiro was concerned, neither the tourists who watched from a distance, nor the residents of the Jewish Quarter, nor his own family members existed. Rabbi Moshe Shmuel saw only the destroyed House of G-d. Ever since Shabbos had descended upon the Old City, where Rav Moshe Shmuel Shapiro was staying that Shabbos, he had felt like one dwelling in the shade of the Mikdash. And suddenly, there burst forth from his mouth, in a melody never before heard, words that refreshed, that entreated, and that sang: “Yiru eineinu — Let our eyes behold, and let our hearts rejoice. … ”

This wasn’t a mere tune, but an expression of the soul that could set a person trembling with emotion — one of Rav Moshe Shmuel’s last compositions.


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