Kalonymus Kalman Shapira

Kalonimus Kalman Szapiro (English: Kalonymus Kalman Shapira or Klonimus Kalmish Szapiro) (20 May 1889–3 November 1943),[1] was the Grand Rabbi of Piaseczno, Poland, who authored a number of works and was murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

Kalonymus Kalman Shapira
TitlePiaseczno Rebbe (sometimes transliterated from Hebrew as Piasetzna Rebbe)
Kalonymus Kalman Szapiro

May 20, 1889
DiedNovember 3, 1943 (aged 54)
SpouseRochel Chaya Miryam Hopsztajn
ChildrenRechil Yehudis, Elimelech Ben-Tzion
Jewish leader
SuccessorElimelech Shapira
Main workחובת התלמידים Chovas haTalmidim

Early years and life before the war edit

Kalonimus Kalman Szapiro was born in Grodzisk Mazowiecki, Poland. His father was Elimelech Szapira of the Grodzhisk hasidic dynasty. Named after his maternal great-grandfather, known as the Maor VaShemesh, he came from a family which included Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk, the Chozeh of Lublin and the Yisroel Hopstein. He was born on the day after Lag BaOmer, 19 Iyar 5649 (May 1889)

His father died when he was three. In 1905 he married Rachel Chaya Miriam, daughter of his nephew Grand Rabbi Yerachmiel Moshe of the Kozhnitz dynasty. They had two children: a son, Elimelech Ben Zion, and a daughter, Rechil Yehudis, both of whom were also murdered in the Holocaust.

In 1909 he was appointed rabbi of Piaseczno, near Warsaw, and subsequently attracted many hasidim. He established the yeshiva Da'as Moshe in 1923, which became one of the largest Hasidic yeshivot in Warsaw between the wars.[2]: 1–2 

War years edit

Rabbi Szapiro's only son, his daughter-in-law, and his sister-in-law were killed during the Nazi aerial bombing of Warsaw in September 1939. After the invasion of Poland, Rabbi Shapira was interned with a few of his Hasidim in the Warsaw Ghetto, where he ran a secret synagogue. He invested enormous efforts in maintaining Jewish life in the ghetto, including arranging for mikveh immersions and kosher marriages. Rabbi Shapira was able to survive in the ghetto until its liquidation, avoiding the tragic deportations to Treblinka in the summer of 1942, because of the support of the Judenrat. Like other notables, he was given work at Schultz's shoe factory—a path to ongoing survival.[2]: 148–9 

Rabbi Szapiro is especially well known because of a book he wrote while in the ghetto. The book, which is a compilation of weekly sermons to his students, contends with complex questions of faith in the face of the mounting suffering of the Jews in the ghetto. When it became apparent to Rabbi Szapiro that the end of the ghetto and all its inhabitants were near, he transferred this book and other manuscripts to the Ringelblum "Oneg Shabbat" Archive. They were buried with other documents in a large milk canister which was found by a construction worker after the end of the war. The book, originally simply entitled "Torah Innovations from the years 5700-5702," was published in Israel in 1960 under the title *Esh Kodesh* ("Sacred Fire").[2]: 1–14  Daniel Reiser republished it in a two volume critical edition, "Sermons from the Years of Rage", in 2017.[3]

After the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was crushed in 1943, Rabbi Szapiro was taken to the Trawniki work camp near Lublin. Although offered the opportunity to escape from the concentration camp, he apparently refused. Following the Jewish uprising in the Treblinka death camp (August 2, 1943) and in Sobibor extermination camp (October 14, 1943), there was increasing concern among the Nazi authorities that there would be further outbreaks of violence at other concentration camps. For this reason, Aktion Erntefest (Operation Harvest Festival) was launched. During this operation, carried out on November 3, 1943, all the remaining Jews in Trawniki, including Rabbi Szapiro, were shot to death.[2]: 155 [4]

Works edit

  • Chovas HaTalmidim (The Students' Obligation) - a collection of essays aimed at teenagers which has become a standard textbook in yeshivos. It was first published in Warsaw in 1932.
  • Hachshoras HaAvreichim (Preparation of Young Men) - a work written for young married men as a sequel to Chovas HaTalmidim. It was published from a manuscript buried in the ghetto. (Jewish Spiritual Growth - a translation of Hachshoras HaAvreichim by Yaacov David Shulman)
  • Mevo haSheorim - Both the continuation of Hachshoras HaAvreichim and intended to be the introduction to Chovas HaAvreichim, which was to have been the final book in the series on education and spiritual guidance. Only Mevo HaSheorim survived from this manuscript, buried in the ghetto. According to Daniel Reiser, the manuscript of Chovas HaAvreichim wasn't lost, rather Rabbi Szapiro didn't have a chance to compose it before the Second World War, other than the brief section published in Derech HaMelech.
  • Tzav V'Ziruz - Rabbi Szapiro's personal diary, translated into English as To Heal the Soul: The Spiritual Journey of a Chasidic Rebbe. It was also published from a manuscript buried in the ghetto.
  • Bnei Machshava Tova (Experiencing the Divine: A Guide to Jewish Spiritual practice and Community) was originally distributed by Rabbi Szapiro to his closest Hasidim in the early 1920s as a secret handbook for the establishment of secret mystical fraternities. The book is a guide to attaining spirituality via a variety of spiritual and mystical techniques including guided imagery meditation in a group setting. Translated by Yaacov David Shulman.[1]
  • Derech HaMelech (The Way of the King --- also, idiomatically, "the high road" in modern Hebrew) - Torah discourses that were spoken on Shabbos and Yom Tov during the 1920s and 1930s. The text is based upon copies of the sermons made by Rabbi Szapiro's followers. It also includes letters, documents and other writings such as the only surviving chapters from his projected work Chovas HaAvreichim and his commentary on the Zohar. It also includes a description of his original "hashkata" (mind-quieting) meditation technique.
  • Aish Kodesh (Holy Fire) - his inspirational speeches given during the Holocaust period.[5] (A Critical and Annotated Edition of Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira's Sermons during the Holocaust 2 Vol. 630 pp.)

Legacy edit

Israel edit

The current Rebbe of Piaseczno is Rabbi Kalman Menachem Shapira, a great-nephew of the first Rebbe, Klonimous Kalman. Rabbi Kalman Menachem resides in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel and leads Congregation Aish Kodesh,[6] which is both a synagogue and the worldwide headquarters for spreading the teachings of his great-uncle. Study halls named Aish Kodesh are also located in Moshav Mevo Modi'im, Beitar Illit and in Bnei Brak. There is a yeshiva in Baka, Jerusalem called Yeshivat Chovat Hatalmidim, where students under the helm of Rabbi Yair HaLevi learn the legendary teachings of The Piaseczna Rabbi.[7] In Samaria there is a small settlement named "Aish Kodesh". It was established in memory of Aish Kodesh Gilmore, who was killed in a terrorist attack by the PLO on October 30, 2000 during the Second Intifada.[8][3]

United States edit

Congregation Aish Kodesh, founded in 1992 and dedicated to the memory and teachings of Rabbi Szapiro, is the first synagogue to call itself by that name. Led by Rabbi Moshe Weinberger, the neo-Hasidic synagogue is located in Woodmere, Long Island, New York.[7] There is also a yeshiva called Aish Kodesh in Virginia.[7]

There is also a synagogue in Boulder, Colorado, founded in 2000,[9] named Aish Kodesh.[10] It was led by Rabbi Gavriel Goldfeder for ten years between 2003 and 2013.[11] There is a recently founded synagogue in Manchester England named Aish Kodesh.

Europe edit

In 2010, the first synagogue in Post-holocaust Europe was opened under the name Adass Aish Kodesh and is led by Rabbi Y. Reuven Rubin Archived 2016-03-17 at the Wayback Machine, formerly of South Manchester Synagogue.

Further reading edit

Nehemia Polen: Divine Weeping. Rabbi Kalonymos Shapiro's Theology of Catastrophe in the Warsaw Ghetto, in : Modern Judaism 7 (1987) 253-269; [2]

Nehamia Polen: The Holy Fire: The Teachings of Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira, the Rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson Press, 1999. [3]

Isaac Hershkowitz: Rabbi Kalonymus Kalmish Shapiro, the Piasechner Rebbe: His Holocaust and pre-Holocaust Thought, Continuity or Discontinuity?, M.A. Thesis, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel (2004).

Rabbi Szapiro appears as a major character in Joseph Skibell's 2010 novel A Curable Romantic.

Moshe Weinberger; "Warmed by the Fire of the Aish Kodesh : Torah from the Hilulas of Reb Kalonymus Kalman Szapiro of Piaseczna", Adapted by Benjamin Wolf. Jerusalem, Feldheim Publishers, 2015.

External links edit

References edit

  1. ^ Library of Congress Authorities: Ḳalonimus Ḳalmish ben Elimelekh, 1889-1943
  2. ^ a b c d Nehemia Polen (1994), The Holy Fire: The Teachings of Rabbi Kalonimus Kalman Shapiro, the Rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto, Jason Aronson Inc., ISBN 0-87668-842-3.
  3. ^ a b "Thank G-d This Classic Rabbinic Text Survived the Warsaw Ghetto". Tablet Magazine. 2019-02-04. Retrieved 2021-01-24.
  4. ^ Fine, Lawrence; Fishbane, Eitan; Rose, Or N (2010). Jewish Mysticism and the Spiritual Life: Classical Texts, Contemporary Reflections. Jewish Lights Publishing. p. 26. ISBN 978-1-58023-434-4.
  5. ^ HebrewBooks.org אש קודש
  6. ^ Official Shul Website
  7. ^ a b c Frankfurter, Rabbi Yitzchok (May 25, 2016). "Igniting Jewish Souls with Sparks of Emunah: A conversation with Rabbi Moshe Weinberger of Aish Kodesh". Ami: 56–66.
  8. ^ Reporter, MARILYN H. KARFELD Staff (3 May 2001). "PA, PLO sued for $250 million in Esh Kodesh Gilmore case". Cleveland Jewish News. Retrieved 2021-01-24.
  9. ^ Andrea Jacobs (2014-01-23). "Is Kehilath Aish Kodesh closing its doors?". IJN | Intermountain Jewish News. Retrieved 2021-01-24.
  10. ^ "Vision for a New Aish Kodesh". Boulder Jewish News. 2014-01-17. Retrieved 2021-01-24.
  11. ^ "Rabbi Goldfeder to Leave Aish for MIT". Boulder Jewish News. 2013-03-29. Retrieved 2021-01-24.