Sunday, July 29, 2007

13th Av - R' Noson Nota Shapira

Yesterday (Shabbat) was the yarzheit of the 'Megaleh Amukos' - R' Noson Nota Shapira (all of those words have alternate spellings - figure it out for yourself). He was one of the more famous kabalists, who wrote on many different areas of Torah. He is probably best known for his commentary on Chumash.

This is what Nehura has to say about him.

Rabbi Natan Neta Shapira - 'Megale Amukot'

Born: Poland, 1585

Died: Cracow, Poland, 1633

Kabbalist, and chief rabbi of Cracow.

Rabbi Natan Neta is better known as 'Megale Amukot' - revealer of the depths, the title of his main work. In 'Megale Amukot' he writes 252 commentaries on Moses's pleading before G-d to be allowed to enter the land of Israel.

Rabbi Natan Neta disseminated the kabbalistic teachings of the Ari in Poland. Thousands of people followed him as a teacher.

On the tomb stone of Rabbi Natan Neta, it says that "Eliyahu HaNavie (Elijah the Prophet) spoke to him face to face."

Rabbi Chaim of Tzanz said about Rabbi Natan Neta, that his powers were so great, that when someone would just mention before him the name of a sick person, that person was immediately healed.

Deah v'Dibur (aka Yated Neeman) have a long article on him, which may contain some facts. Here are the first few paragraphs. You decide whether it is worth reading more:

Rebbe Nosson Neta Shapira zt'l, the author of Megaleh Amukos

370 years from his petiroh -- 13 Av, 5393

Cracow, in southern Poland southwest of Warsaw, was a leading Torah city in learning and observance for many generations. It was the home of Torah giants who were pillars of Torah and halochoh. Among these was the gaon, kodosh and mekubol HaRav Nosson Neta Shapira zt'l, who was world famous as the author of the Megaleh Amukos.

R' Nosson Neta was blessed with rare talents. His diligence and labor in Torah study were limitless, and his phenomenal memory astounded everyone.

When he was twenty years old his father-in-law, the gvir R' Moshe Eberless, introduced him to a Polish noble who wanted for himself to see the young illui's recall of what he heard. The aristocrat read him an entire book written in French, a language totally unknown to R' Nosson Neta. In the middle of the reading, which took a very long time, R' Nosson Neta rested his head on his arm. The noble thought R' Nosson Neta had fallen asleep, and he asked him in Polish: "Have you fallen asleep?" Rabbeinu nodded his head from side to side to signal that he had not. The noble continued reading the book until its very end.

Then he asked R' Nosson Neta to retell by heart the whole book. This apparently illogical demand didn't bother Rabbeinu at all. He repeated the whole book, word for word, and he even repeated the question, "Have you fallen asleep?" in exactly the place where the noble originally asked him that question.

At the age of thirty, Rabbenu became rosh yeshiva of the Cracow Yeshiva, one of the most famed yeshivos of the day. This yeshiva was founded by HaRav Yaakov Pollack, the father of the pilpul method of Torah study, which had proven its tremendous usefulness in better understanding the Torah.

The way R' Nosson Neta studied amazed everyone. His son R' Shlomoh writes: "Hashem gave him a heart of deep understanding and capability to relate to others what he had read in seforim and what he was taught by others. Within his extensive memory, which is incomparable to that of anyone living today, one can find all the works of the Rishonim and Acharonim besides the Talmud Bavli and Yerushalmi. He would repeat verbatim to his cherished talmidim excerpts from gemoras with the commentaries, the Rif and the Tur, teshuvos and other poskim. No reference existed that he was not proficient in . . . and when he would study with his attentive talmidim flames of fire would burst from him. He transformed these talmidim into Torah giants."

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