Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Rabbi Shapira was very striking in his appearance. He is universally recalled as being handsome and well groomed, distinguished and elegant - although not "modern" - in his dress. He radiated an aura of dignity and nobility. His eyes were penetrating, his manner thoughtful and deliberate. As one person put it, "He was the most impressive man I ever met in my life. You could not be indifferent to him."
Those who knew his family well and who were often present at his home recall the atmosphere of love and respect that prevailed in the household. The mutual devotion and admiration between the rebbe and his wife, Rachel [Chaya] Miriam Hapstein, were evident to all. Like her three sisters, Rachel [Chaya] Miriam was very learned; she would avidly follow her husband's discourses. In one passage, he notes that his wife reviewed his writings, making comments and posing questions. When she passed away in 1937, he wrote a poignant and moving letter to his chassidim in Eretz Yisrael eulogizing her. Chassidim recall that after her passing Rabbi Shapira never again played the violin.
The following took place soon after her passing: the rebbe led one of his close chassidim to a cabinet in his home, opened up the drawer, and took out a piece of paper. On it was written a ma'amar ... but as the chassid noted, the handwriting changed in the middle of the paper. The rebbe explained that he was writing his ma'amar when he was called away for a medical consultation. When he returned, he saw that his Rebbetzin had picked up the pen and finished writing the ma'amar. Displaying the treasured paper in is hand, the rebbe looked at the chassid and said, "You see, this is the true fulfillment of the verse 'And they shall be one flesh'!" - Nehemia Polen, The Holy Fire: The Teachings of Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira, the Rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto  (Jason Aronson Press)

The above passage moved me very much when I read it a short while ago. I am always looking to learn new things about the rebbe; the appreciation and pride that the rebbe so clearly displays for his zivug is an inspiration that has bolstered my own relationships...

Also, consider the description of the rebbe's appearance. In a very modest way, the rebbe was able to carry himself with a certain regal bearing. His efforts to look presentable were not a manifestation of some prideful egocentric need to impress, but rather a lesson on the importance of looking like a mentsch.


ramchal said...

Shalom! long time no speak i am in eretz yisroel at netiv as a madrich and rav ally ehrman is mamash amazing. I was out of the internet/blogging velt for a while, but i think i will get back into it a little keep up the great posts!

Shmuel said...

Great to hear from you, man. Reb Ally told me that you were there. Make the most of it and have a real ALIYAH!