Thursday, April 10, 2008
Getting to Know Rav Tzvi Mayer - Anonymous Guest Post
(Bonus Feature: Nossi Gross, of Zemer Orchestra in Baltimore, has supplied us with a 90 second mp3 from a shiur given by Reb Tzvi Mayer regarding the days between Purim and Pesach. In Nossi's words, Reb Tzvi Mayer's fire could help burn the chametz out of you in under two minutes. DOWNLOAD HERE!)
There are many people who have been zocheh to meet Rav Tzvi Meyer Zilverberg. All of those who have met him know that words can explain only a fraction of his purity and fiery passion in his avodas Hashem. You must see and witness Rav Tzvi Meyer in order to understand. However, I will do my best in this short piece to explain some general information as well as some of my personal encounters with him.
Shalosh Seudos - It is a few minutes until the end of Shabbos, the room is pitch black and scores of yidden from all backgrounds crowd the table to get closer to the tzaddik. Some people are shuckling. Others are crying, with all emotions erupting as if it were ne'ilah. Time has stopped. Direction and purpose have kicked in. We all stand around and listen to Rav Tzvi Meyer mamish pour out his heart for close to 2 hours. (There are translators.)
Sometimes it is hard to understand him because he has more words to speak than breath in his lungs. Time and time again he repeats "The amount of nachas ruach which the Eibishter gets from us, from one little good deed in these terrible times during ikvisa d'mishicha, is so great and unfathomable." "These are the last few moments before Mashiach, he is knocking on the door." His belief and feeling for the coming of Mashiach are so inspiring that they instill a breath of fresh air into all of the people listening and who are going through tough times.
Rav Tzvi Meyer bangs on the table, crying, sighing and constantly giving shvach to us and all the yidden for making Hashem so happy. "If you have one white dot (positive thought) surrounded by many black dots (negative thought) as long as you stare at the white dot, the rest will suddenly disappear."
He says that we have to be heilig shmattas. Whats the vort? We have to be humble like a shmattah but we cannot let that ruin our self esteem so we always have to act with kedusha and realize our greatness. Rav Tzvi Meyer says that in other generations we had to put ourselves down in order to be anavim. However, in these rough times, moments before Mashiach, much of our avoda is to feel good about ourselves and raise our sprits up. He says that each of us, by working on our struggles in this world, are in fact building our own section of the Beis Hamikdash in Shamayim. And we should feel great about our efforts because of what even the smallest effort is accomplishing.
After the shmooze we all get up, no matter how different their hashkafah or clothing, lock hands, and begin to sing and dance in a circle. Eyes closed, dark room, everyone is full of intense emotion. One niggun after the next. Jumping up and down. Koh Echsof is my favorite.
After the singing and dancing, we all stand in line to chop a bracha and personal word of chizuk. I will tell you something funny. My friend convinced me to go, and I wasn't so religious, plus I heard it was in the dark so I decided to wear boots, blue sweatpants and a jacket. All of the sudden the lights come on after we dance and there I am, enough color to blind the black and white room. I believe I felt a little awkward, but once I saw the face of a tzaddik, all internal negativity stopped. He looked at me with a smile which knows no end. A smile which a million dollars can't buy and a million words can't explain. He grabs my hand, didn't let go and starts shmoozing with me as many people are in line waiting. His smile becomes bigger, his eyes open and light up, and his hand clings mine even tighter. He saw nothing but my true self. Not the clothing, not the hair, nothing! My neshama is what he saw. And that is why Rav Tzvi Meyer is Rav Tzvi Meyer. I have heard from great people that he does not belong in this generation, and he is a true gift for us.
One time at the Boston shul in Har Nof for an English speech. I noticed him leave his car to enter the building so I stayed close by. He practically ran in, as he always rushes to do mitzvos, heading towards the bathroom. He was holding a stack of seform at the time and wanted to place them down but there was no place right there. I was right next to him and he looked at me, and with a true internal conflict, I saw his desire to give me the seforim and make me feel good about helping a tzaddik but at the same time since he is so humble he didn't want anyone serving or helping him. For a short second I watched this back and forth within himself. I ended up having the zchus to hold them, and even to walk them all the way to the front for him.
During his stand-up shmoozes his arms were flying; left, right, up and down. He is leaping and jumping off of the ground. He cannot contain himself as his neshama is yearning to get closer to Shamayim. He walked so quickly into the shmooze but when he left, no matter how busy he is, he always gave everyone that smile, handshake and all the time in the world.
Afterwards, my friend asked him if he and his friend could get a ride back with him and chop a shmooze in the car. Of course he replied "yes," as he is so sensitive to others and didn't want to hurt his feelings by saying no. After my friend entered the car Rav Tzvi Meyer looked at me and asked, "Are you coming?", assuming that I was the friend. I happened to have been the friend but had a rental car I needed to return so I had to sadly decline the invitation.
From his experience on that ride back, my friend told me a life changing story. The whole ride back Rav Tzvi Meyer was sitting on a wooden board (not sure why, but I heard that it was because of a chashash shatnez). The whole ride back, he was on the phone and crying his eyes out. He seemed to be completely a wreck. The whole way home, my friend was sitting there right next to him. He asked Rav Tzvi Mayer, afterward, what was going on. He answered that there was a little boy in America on the phone who was sick with an illness. The sensitivity that Rav Tzvi Meyer has for all of klal yisroel, and the pain he feels is literally beyond us. He is so connected to Hashem, yet so giving in this world.
A friend of mine was at one of his shmoozes when he asked to take a picture with him. At that time Rav Tzvi Meyer was on the phone with his father and he felt bad saying "no," but made it known that he was fulfilling the mitzvah of kibud av va'em so as not to offend this bochur. He told him to come tomorrow to take a picture. My friend called the shamash and he said that there is no way that it would work out to take the picture that next day because Rav Tzvi Meyer needs to be at a bais din, a bris, a wedding etc. My friend decided to go to wait by his personal bais medrish the next day, and lo and behold, five minutes later comes Rav Tzvi Meyer. He told my friend "I could write a megilah on what happened today and the hashgacha pratis; How I got here and there etc." He asked my friend why he was here, and my friend replied "because when you told me yesterday that you would let me take a picture I knew that Hashem wouldn't let a tzaddik lie." It is true, and Hashem altered the day for this.
On Purim there were Jews of all backgrounds dancing together. Rav Tzvi Meyer started switching people's kipahs and hats. A streimel on this guys head, a kipah srugah on that guys head etc. He noted that we are all yidden and that no clothing will change that.
My friend told Rav Tzvi Meyer that he would send a stretched limo to pick him up in order to bring him to speak at his yeshiva. Rav Tzvi Meyer said that he would rather take a horse and buggy. He simply doesn't care about material things. He lives on a spiritual plain, yet he relates to all of us and believes in all of us.
There is so much more to say. If I understand correctly, he made sure, after crying for so long in the car, to totally wipe away the sadness from his face, in order not to affect anyone negatively or disrupt his shalom bayis.
When he is at a shmooze with other gedolim, even if he is greater than they are, he humbles himself and praises the other one.
Like I said in the beginning, the only way to chop a little bit of what Rav Tzvi Meyer has to offer is by experiencing him yourself.
Thank you for reading. Thank you to the ba'al ha-Website for allowing this
and thank you to Hashem for everything including the experience and bringing these memories to the forefront of my mind.
(Picture courtesy of Dixie Yid)
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