Mourning Rav Meir Hershkowitz ztz”l
Photo: Dunoff Photography
AT press time we learned of the passing of Rav Meir Hershkowitz ztz”l. For decades, Rav Meir served as the rosh yeshivah of Yeshivas Bais Binyomin in Stamford, Connecticut, sharing his brilliant Torah with thousands of talmidim. His short jacket and down hat tried to conceal his greatness, but despite his humility, this prized talmid of Rav Aharon Kotler was respected throughout the yeshivah world as a de facto leader.
There are too many stories to print in so short a time, but a couple are too powerful, too indicative, not to share.
At the Stamford Yeshiva’s Melaveh Malkah for Lakewood alumni, Rav Meir greeted talmidim warmly, grasping each hand with his two hands as he gave brachos and divrei Torah to each and every one. One of the talmidim, a rosh yeshivah himself, told Rav Hershkowitz that his bochurim were in the sugya of chezkas habatim, learning the Stamford Rosh Yeshivah’s Torah, and everyone was benefiting from it.
Upon hearing that, Rav Meir let go of his hands and jolted.
“My Torah?” he asked in astonishment. “It’s not my Torah, it’s the Eibeshter’s Torah. The pasuk in Tehillim says, ‘Kol haneshamah tehallel Kah,’ and Chazal say in the Midrash, ‘Al kol neshimah v’neshimah, tehallel Kah.’ We must thank Hashem for each and every breath He gives us! So how can I take credit for any Torah I say if it’s all coming from Hashem?”
Reb Buri Goldberger had learned in the Stamford Yeshiva’s high school and then its first-year beis medrash. He was in the cusp of entering the second year, in which Rav Meir delivered the shiur. However, for various reasons, Buri felt he’d do better in a different yeshivah, and expressed that opinion to Bais Binyomin’s menahel. Unconvinced, the menahel shared the information with Rav Meir, who called Buri into his office.
“Why do you want to leave?” he asked.
Buri explained his various considerations. As it happened, his class was a particularly small one, and his leaving would take a definite toll. After a lengthy conversation, Rav Meir nodded. He understood Buri’s position, and, although he was several decades his senior, he wouldn’t disparage it. At the end of the meeting, Rav Meir had one question.
“What is your mother’s name?” he asked.
“Your mother’s name,” Rav Meir repeated. “Her Hebrew name.”
Uncertain, Buri shared his mother’s Hebrew name and scurried off. He went on to take a farher in the yeshivah of his choice and was duly accepted. A few days later, he met Rav Meir in the hallway.
“Nu,” Rav Meir asked, “did you get accepted to the yeshivah?”
Buri nodded. “Yes, I did! Two days ago.”
Rav Meir smiled. “Why didn’t you tell me? I was davening for you that you should get accepted!”
He davened for a young bochur to make a successful exit from his yeshivah, even if it would work to his own detriment. Because Rav Meir Hershkowitz cared about Klal Yisrael — and davened for Klal Yisrael.
He is no longer with us, having joined the Mesivta d’Rakiah, together with his great rebbeim and so many of his chavrusas. But of one thing we can remain certain.
Rav Meir will continue to daven for Klal Yisrael.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 959)
Oops! We could not locate your form.