Thousands of mournful Bnei Brak residents headed by
gedolei HaTorah accompanied HaRav Sholom Tzvi Hacohen
Shapira, zt"l, on his last earthly journey. He was a
ram and a menahel ruchani in the Or HaTorah
yeshiva, author of the illustrious works: Kovetz Bei'urim
Al HaRambam, Hamaor ShebaTorah and Meishiv
Nefesh. He was niftar after an illness at the age
HaRav Sholom Tzvi Shapira, son of HaRav Bentzion, was born
in Brisk in 5680. When he was thirteen, he went to
Baranovitch to study under HaRav Elchonon Wassermann,
remaining there for many years. When HaRav Shapira later
moved to Eretz Yisroel, he compiled HaRav Wassermann's
Kovetz Shiurim for print. When only fourteen, his
exertion in Torah was so great that he would remain standing
for six consecutive hours out of his daily study
From Baranowitz, he transferred to the Mir, where he was
very close to its roshei yeshiva, whom he merited to
be meshamesh. The remarkable spiritual foundations
that accompanied him throughout his entire life were formed
in Mir. Brilliance, remarkable diligence, sensitivity and
nobility of soul, chein vochessed and kedusha
vetahoro were his watchwords. He was especially close
with the mashgiach, HaRav Yechezkel Levenstein,
remaining attached to him until his final day.
His unique hasmodoh was evident wherever he studied.
Torah was his entire essence. When in Shanghai with the Mir
yeshiva, his hasmodoh was astounding. Friends from
that period say that during the Shanghai period, he studied
Nezikin and Noshim seventy times, and knew
them by heart.
From Shanghai, he went to Paris where he married. For a
short time he was a ram in the Chachmei Tzorfat
yeshiva of Aix-les-Bains. He later moved to Eretz Hakodesh,
where he was a ram in Be'er Yaakov and then in the
Volozhin yeshiva in Bnei Brak. He helped found the Or
HaTorah yeshiva for students from Sephardic backgrounds
where he was a ram and menahel ruchani for
twenty years, teaching thousands of students.
He had a strong impact on his students and those attending
his shiurim. They consulted him on spiritual matters,
regarding him as a model oved Hashem whose entire aim
in life was to guide them in Torah and mussar.
His students admired his fatherly image and his pleasant
ways. He once said: "I never expelled a student from the
yeshiva, because that would be like casting a Jew out of
Klal Yisroel. I dealt with the difficulties of each
problematic student, drawing such students closer until they
The following story attests to his tremendous
shkeida: One Purim after shacharis he went to
study in a beis medrash near his home, saying that he
would return in time for the seuda. Towards
sheki'a, his sons went to the beis medrash to
see why he was late and found him so immersed in his studies
that he hadn't realized that the entire day had passed.
On Shabbos, he would taste only a bit of fish and meat,
saying that one should eat what is required by
halocho and no more, and that overeating causes
sluggishness. Immediately after the meal he would go into
the Kollel Chazon Ish, and study for seven to eight hours at
a stretch, both in the cold winters and in the hot summer
months -- when beads of perspiration would collect on his
brow due to his exertion in Torah.
His bekius in all aspects of the Torah was renowned.
In an approbation to Kovetz Bei'urim Al HaRambam,
HaRav Yechezkel Levenstein wrote, "He is one of the
gedolei haTorah vehamussar." HaRav Eliezer Yehuda
Finkel called him, "Chorif uvoki bechol chadrei haTorah:
Sinai ve'okeir horim."
His seforim, occupy prominent places on the tables of
gedolei haTorah, attesting to his amazing mastery of
all aspects of the Torah. This mastery was so great that the
Kehillos Yaakov once said of him: "There is no
medrash that he doesn't know."
When his family asked him how many times he had completed
the study of the midroshim of Chazal, he said, "I
counted until 120 and then stopped counting."
Although his HaMaor ShebaTorah contains 1200 articles
about the parasha of the week, he never repeated a
dvar Torah twice. Each one illuminated the Torah in a
During recent years, he delivered talks to roshei
yeshiva and gedolei Torah on Shabbos after
mincha. There some of the great light of this
illustrious talmid chochom laboring so hard to
conceal his greatness, was revealed. He leaves behind
manuscripts that will soon be printed and will enlighten the
His prayers came from the depths of his heart, and it would
take him nearly half-an-hour to recite the birchos
hashachar in the mornings.
A year ago he fell ill and his situation steadily
deteriorated. Nonetheless, he maintained his clarity of mind
until his last day. Two weeks ago, he read his will to his
family and said vidui. "I am very worried about the
extent of the din," he told his family.
On Tuesday night, 13 Tammuz, his health took a serious turn
for the worse. Before a minyan of relatives, he
returned his pure soul to its Maker.
His levaya, which took place Wednesday morning, left
his home in Bnei Brak and was attended by Torah Jewry's
finest. Heading the procession were HaRav Aharon Leib
Steinman, HaRav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz, HaRav Michel
Feinstein, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, the niftar's
mechuton, HaRav Nissim Karelitz and HaRav Gershon
Eidelstein. They were followed by roshei yeshiva,
rabbonim, gedolei haTorah and many bnei
Hespedim were delivered by HaRav Michel Yehuda
Lefkowitz, HaRav Boruch Rosenberg, HaRav Aharon Leib
Steinman, HaRav Menachem Tzvi Berlin and by the
niftar's son-in-law, HaRav Yaakov Rabinowitz-
From Bnei Brak, the levaya proceeded to the Mir
yeshiva in Jerusalem, where thousands had assembled,
including HaRav Shmuel Auerbach, HaRav Meshulem Dovid
Soloveitchik; the roshei yeshiva of the Mir, and
prominent talmidim from the Shanghai period.
The first hesped at the Mir yeshiva was delivered by
HaRav Moshe Menachem Hacohen Shapira, the niftar's
son. Hespedim were also delivered by HaRav Aryeh
Finkel and HaRav Boruch Mordechai Ezrachi.
He is survived by his wife, tibodel lechayim tovim
ve'arukim and his sons: HaRav Moshe Menachem, the
rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Reishis Chochmoh, HaRav
Bentzion, a mechanech in Kiryat Sefer, HaRav Avrohom
Michel, a prominent avreich, HaRav Aryeh Leib, the
menahel ruchani of the Hevron Geula yeshiva, as well
as by a daughter who is married to HaRav Yaakov Rabinowitz-
Te'omim, one of the roshei yeshiva of Kol Torah. His
grandchildren are also continuing to uphold the spiritual
legacy he bequeathed them.