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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Niggunim from the Daf HaYomi

Rabbi Meir Shapiro, ZT"L

At the first Knessia HaGedola [Large gathering] of Agudas Yisrael in 1923, a young man named Rabbi Meir Shapiro presented a revolutionary idea - that Jews all over the world could learn a folio [or Daf] of Gemara each day, and in 7-1/2 years, they would complete the entire Shas or Talmud. Known as the Daf HaYomi, or daily folio, this brings Jews the world over a "common denominator" of learning. Moreover, if one needs to travel, as Jews so often do, they could find in just about any Jewish community, a shiur [daily lesson] on that day's Daf. 72 years later, after several siyumim [completions], Rabbi Shapiro's plan is going strong throughout world Jewry. Last year's Siyum HaShas included a Siyum, with the Modzitzer, Sadigora and Nadvorner Rebbes, in the building which once housed Rabbi Shapiro's famous yeshiva, Chachmei Lublin, in the town of Lublin, Poland.

Tonight, the 7th of Cheshvan, is Rabbi Meir Shapiro's yahrzeit. But probably most of you don't know that Rav Meir Shapiro also composed niggunim. The following is a short excerpt from "A Blaze in the Darkening Gloom" about his passing:

"In a broken, barely legible scrawl he wrote, 'Let everyone drink L'Chaim!' Some liquor was poured out into tiny glasses, and all who were there drank and wished him L'Chaim, 'to life!' Then he shook hands with them all, one by one, holding each one's hand in his for a long time. And now he gave his instruction, "Make a Rikud (a little Chassidic dance) to the words, 'b'Cha Batchu Avoseinu' ("In You our fathers trusted, and You rescued them"; Tehillim 22:5). His wishes were obeyed: they joined hands, put hands on shoulders, and lifted their feet in rhythm as they sang the holy words to the melody they knew so well - the melody which he himself had composed."

This and nine other niggunim that Rabbi Meir Shapiro composed are on the recording "Nigunav shel Rabbi Meir Shapiro ZtL MiLublin," sung by R. Menachem Klein and put out by Aderet Music in Brooklyn.

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