Dei'ah Vedibur - Information &

A Window into the Chareidi World

28 Menachem Av 5772 - August 16, 2012 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










Produced and housed by











The Megaleh Amukos: HaRav Nosson Nota Shapira, zt"l

In honor of his yahrtzeit, 13 Av

Since he merited to have Torah ugeduloh bemokom echod, both wealth and Torah, the Megaleh Amukos never took wages nor benefited in any way from the public purse. For this reason, his words were readily accepted by all and he fearlessly proclaimed his daas Torah, unlike other rabbonim who perhaps were afraid to jeopardize their post and livelihood. As his son wrote in the introduction to his sefer, "Money means nothing to him, just as in the days of King Shlomo."

His matzeivoh is engraved with a few short sentences, one of them being: "They say of him that Eliyohu (Hanovi) spoke to him face-to-face."

Consistent with this sentence are the facts written in the introduction to his sefer: "Every night the Megaleh Amukos would rise at chatzos to cry and lament the loss of the Beis Hamikdosh. On one such night, Eliyohu Hanovi appeared to him and informed him that the same song that he is singing down in this world, the mal'ochim are singing simultaneously in the heavenly spheres before Hakodosh Boruch Hu, "and since you are so beloved, I will reveal to you some Heavenly secrets."

Of his holiness, the Divrei Chaim of Zanz, zt"l, told that anyone needing a yeshu'oh in Cracow would go to the house of Rabbeinu and give over his name or the name of the person in distress to Rabbeinu. Without a word of tefilloh on the Rabbi's part, the person was already helped just in his zechus.

According to Rav Sar Sholom of Belz, his lifetime was a glorious era for Yidden, when such great luminaries lit up the Jewish world. The Bach and the Turei Zahav were among those who led Klal Yisroel at the time, their holiness radiating to such an extent that in Heaven it was decided that the time was ripe to bring the final redemption.

However, the Soton asked to be allowed one more chance to try and test the gedolei hador.

Initially, the Soton came to the Bach, telling him that he was a mal'ach who wanted to teach him secrets of the Torah, just as the Maggid learned with the Beis Yosef. However, the father of the Bach appeared to him in a dream, cautioning him to ignore this spirit.

Next, the Soton went to the Megaleh Amukos with the same ruse, but Rabbeinu felt immediately that this was no holy mal'ach. Recalling signs he had learnt from Eliyohu Hanovi, he confirmed his suspicions and drove the Soton away.

Thus the Soton tried one godol after another until he reached Shabsai Zvi, who too had great potential. Soton had finally found his victim. Shabsai Zvi fell for his disguise and accepted him, leading to the devastating cult that led so many Yidden astray and, in effect, bringing a third churban upon Klal Yisroel.


Although the conclusion to the following story is still shrouded in mystery, it gives us a fraction of an insight into the holiness of the Megaleh Amukos and those connected to him physically and in spirit.

Following the petiroh of the Megaleh Amukos on 13 Av 5393 (1623), a young stranger whom no one seemed to know appeared in Cracow.

Soon after, the gabbai of the Chevra Kadisha of Cracow was surprised to see this newcomer at his door with a request that was perhaps even stranger than the man himself. Confident and soft- spoken, he asked to buy the empty burial plot next to that of the Megaleh Amukos.

"What!" the gabbai almost exploded. "The audacity to request such a thing. Who says that you are worthy of burial next to the greatest of greats!"

With that, the gabbai drove the young man away, only to have him return a few days later with the same request. Begging the gabbai to have mercy on him, he entreated that he sell him the plot. As the man continued to plead, a plan began to form in the head of the gabbai.

The treasury of the Chevra Kadisha is empty at the moment. I am already getting on in years while this fellow looks young and healthy. I'll sell him the plot and by the time he grows old and dies, I'll have long passed away and the Chevra Kadisha will have to decide how to deal with the situation.

With only the four walls to witness the deal, a deal was made. The stranger paid and acquired the burial place next to the Megaleh Amukos.

The satisfaction of the gabbai was, however, short-lived. On that very day, the young man died a sudden and mysterious death. At a loss, the gabbai of the Chevra Kadisha weighed up the facts. Was it allowed at all to place an unworthy stranger next to the holy tziyun? It's not even a favor for the man himself if he doesn't deserve it. Anyway, the money he paid went to tzedokoh, and nobody knows about the sale. I'll just keep quiet and bury him somewhere else.

So, the man was buried by the Chevra Kadisha in an ordinary plot of the Cracow cemetery.

That night, as the gabbai lay asleep, the dead man appeared to him in a dream.

"I made a deal with you," he complained, "and you have not kept your part of the deal. I am therefore summoning you to the heavenly court."

In a cold sweat, the gabbai awoke. After a few minutes, he forced himself to calm down and decided to try to forget the whole thing. But night after night, the man was haunted by the same recurring dream whose truth he knew only too well.

Brokenhearted and gripped with fear and remorse, the gabbai went to the new rov of Cracow, the Bach, and hesitantly told him the whole story.

Trembling, the gabbai waited as the holy Bach deliberated for a few moments. "If the avreich comes to you again," instructed the Bach, "tell him that the Torah is not in Shomayim and that if he wants to summon you to a din Torah he should come to the head beis din of Cracow on a certain date."

When the dream recurred that night, the gabbai gave over the message of the Bach and the avreich agreed to appear in Cracow's court.

On the agreed-upon day, a partition was set up in the beis din. Those present waited with bated breath until they heard a rustling sound from behind the mechitzoh, indicating that the deceased complainant had arrived. The Bach stood up and commanded that he present his case, and when he had done so, the Bach turned to the gabbai.

"What do you have to say in your defense?"

"It is true that I sold him the plot, but I never had the remotest intention to bury him there," stammered the gabbai. "I only did it because the coffers of the Chevra Kadisha were empty and the man was so insistent. I don't even know his name, for he refused to tell me."

Turning back towards the partition, the Bach asked the spirit to reveal his identity so that they could find out whether he was worthy of being buried next to the Megaleh Amukos. However, he refused to give his name.

"According to din," announced the Bach, "the sale ought to be valid. However, since we have no idea who this avreich is, and perhaps he is unsuitable to be the neighbor in death of our holy Rov zt"l, in which case it would be an affront to the kovod of the Megaleh Amukos to honor the sale, we will not do the job ourselves. Instead, we will leave open the grave of the avreich and the space next to Rabbeinu. If you are worthy to be next to the Megaleh Amukos, go over yourself to the place that you bought. If not, we are free of our obligations in this transaction."

Following the instructions of the Bach, the Chevra Kadisha opened both places. They were shaken to discover the next morning that the kever of the young man was empty, while the plot next to the Rov had been filled.

Understanding that the unknown spirit had been a tzaddik nistar, but still unaware of his name, his matzeivoh was engraved as follows: "Here lies the unknown avreich, yo'id olov rei'o — his neighbor the Megaleh Amukos testifies to his greatness."


All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.