Moshe Shmuel Shapiro

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Rabbi Moshe Shmuel Shapiro in 2003

Moshe Shmuel Shapiro (1917–2006) was a Rosh Yeshiva and important rabbinic figure in Israel.

Early life and education[edit]

Rav Moshe Shmuel Shapiro's father, Rav Aryeh Shapira, was the son of Rav Refael Shapiro of Volozhin and grandson of Rav Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin (the Netziv.) His mother was a descendant of Rav Yom Tov Lipman Heilpern of Bialystock (1816–1879), a descendant of Rav Yom-Tov Lipmann Heller. Even though his father was the Dayan of Białystok, Poland, R' Moshe Shmuel was born in the city of Minsk, Belarus, where his family had escaped the horrors of World War I.

After the war, the Shapira family returned to Białystok where Shapiro studied in the local yeshiva. Rav Chaim Soloveitchik, Moshe Shmuel's uncle, frequented the Shapira residence. In 1933, R' Moshe Shmuel left home to study in the Baranovich Yeshiva under the tutelage of Rav Elchonon Wasserman. Rav Shmuel Berenbaum, the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Mir, attests to the special relationship which existed between the young R' Moshe Shmuel and Rav Elchonon. Even after R' Moshe Shmuelleft Baranovich, he continued corresponding with Rav Elchonon.

In the summer of 1936, R' Moshe Shmuel moved to Yeshivas Mir where he immediately gained a reputation as having potential for leading the Torah world and was recognized by Rav Yerucham Levovitz. Shapiro joined students older than himself in sleeping arrangements, despite his young age compared to them. He developed a friendship with such Torah scholars as Rav Yonah Karpilov of Minsk (who was murdered in the Holocaust) and Rav Aryeh Leib Malin. In 1937, R' Moshe Shmuel reached the age of army conscription and had to flee Poland. He moved to Israel.

In Israel[edit]

In Israel, R' Moshe Shmuel attended Yeshivas Lomza in Petah Tikva, where Rav Yechezkel Levenstein recognized his potential. During his time in Lomza, Rav Elazar Shach was the main Talmudic lecturer, while R' Moshe Shmuel and Rav Shmuel Rozovsky delivered other specialized lectures in Talmud studies. During this time, R' Moshe Shmuelwas the teacher of many rabbis, including Rav Chaim Kanievsky.

When R' Moshe Shmuel's first cousin, the Brisker Rov Rav Yitzchok Zev Soloveitchik, moved to Jerusalem, R' Moshe Shmuel developed a strong relationship with him and helped publicize the Brisker methods. He was given special access to writings from his cousin and his uncle, Rav Chaim Soloveitchik, which he incorporated into his own understandings of various Gemara sugyas. R' Moshe Shmuel was the main editor of the works of the Brisker Rov on Kodashim.

R' Moshe Shmuel was granted semicha by Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer.

During this period he also became very close to the Chazon Ish Rav Avrohom Yeshaya Karelitz. After his marriage in 1946, Shapiro spent one year learning in the Chazon Ish's kollel (known as Kollel Chazon Ish and then was hired to deliver Talmudic lectures in Yeshivas Kol Torah for three years. At the behest of the Chazon Ish, R' Moshe Shmuel joined Rav Shlomo Wolbe in establishing Yeshivas Be'er Yaakov. He was also the Chief Rabbi of Ramle, the town where his yeshiva was located, for a short time before resigning because it took away too much time from running his Yeshiva.

Shapiro consulted with the Chazon Ish and the Brisker on all yeshiva matters. In 1953, on the day of the death of the Karelitz, Shapiro held a two-hour conversation in Torah with the aging sage.

In 1968, R' Moshe Shmuel was repeatedly asked to join the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah by the Beis Yisrael, the Gerrer Rebbe, and Rav Yechezkel Sarna. Eventually he acceded to their request when the latter paid him a personal visit.


From the year 1963 until the year of his death, R' Moshe Shmuel published many Talmudic works on the Orders of Nashim, Nezikin, and Moed. They are divided into two sets of books. Kuntres Ha-Biurim are in-depth analysis of various Talmudic topics, often based on exclusive manuscripts and ideas which R' Moshe Shmuel heard from the Brisker Rov. Sha'arei Shemu'os is a compilation of Shapiro's novellae arranged by folio of the Talmudic tractates on which he published his works. R' Moshe Shmuel's sons published his work on Tanakh entitled Zahav MiShva. R' Moshe Shmuel also worked extensively with manuscripts of various Rishonim and published an edition of the Ri Migash with his own footnotes.



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