Living Legacy: Rav Shlomo Shapira, Founder of Munkatcher Dynasty

Living Legacy: Rav Shlomo Shapira, Founder of Munkatcher Dynasty

Yehuda Alter 

The 21st of Sivan marks the yohrtzeit of Rav Shlomo Spira, author of Shem Shlomo, the founder of the Munkatcher dynasty. He was born in the Galician town of Ribatitch. His father was Rav Elozor, the son of the Bnei Yisoschor of Dinov. His mother was Rebbetzin Toba Chava, a descendant of the Pnei Yehoshua. 

Rav Shlomo was an ish kadosh and a master of the hidden and revealed Torah. Thousands of people streamed to witness his avodas hakodesh. Even as a young boy, he toiled greatly in Torah, and his grandfather, the Bnei Yisoschor, foresaw that he would grow into greatness. His zeide drew him close, and he learned much Torah from him.

His primary rebbi was his father, Rav Elozor of Lanzhut, and he received much influence in Torah and avodas Hashem from his father. As a young boy, he journeyed together with his father to the court of Rebbe Meir’l of Premishlan. He also made his way to other tzaddikim including the Divrei Chaim of Sanz, Rav Tzvi Hirsch of Rimanov, the Holy Ruziner, the Sar Shalom of Belz, and others. 

Gedolim of his time expressed wonder at his greatness in Torah. 

In 1857, when his father became the rov of Lanzhut, his son was appointed in his place as the rov of Strizov. There, he was a great marbitz Torah and accomplished much for the people of the town. Many people began coming to him already then, despite his relative youth. He produced many talmidim in the yeshiva that he had there, over a number of decades. 

In 1881, the Rabbonus of Munkatch was suggested to the Yetev Lev of Sighet, but he declined, and told the people to offer it instead to Rav Shlomo who accepted the position where his illustrious grandfather, the Bnei Yisoschor, had once served as a rov. 

His avodas Hashem was done with great mesirus nefesh, a fire for HaKadosh Baruch Hu, and he fought battles for the sanctity of Yiddishkeit. He dedicated himself to helping Yidden and be mechazek Torah observance.  

Channeling his rebbe, the Divrei Chaim, Rav Shlomo was an incredible ba’al tzedakah, distributing astronomical sums to the needy. But for himself, he needed very little, eating and sleeping minimally.  

The tzaddik authored seforim on many areas of Torah, halachic responsa, and others. However, in his tzava’ah, he instructed his children not to print it because he was unable to complete them before his passing. Indeed, his son, the Darkei Teshuvah did not print it, but he instructed his descendants to do so, in order that the Torah would remain for future generations.

On Rosh Hashanah of 1893, the tzaddik was informed that he would be leaving the world that year, and from then he prepared for his final journey. On the evening of 21 Sivan, Rav Shlomo began saying krias shemah with great fervor, and returned his soul to its Maker shortly thereafter. 

He was interred in the Beis Hachaim in Munkatch.   

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