23 Elul: Yahrzeit of the Rebbe’s Grandfather

23 Elul is the yahrzeit of the Rebbe’s zeide, Harav Meir Shlomo Yanovsky, a staunch chossid of the Rebbe Maharash and rov in Nikolayev.

By Anash.org staff

The Rebbe’s zeideRav Meir Shlomo HaLevi Yanovsky, passed away on this day – Chof-Gimmel Elul, 5693/1933.

He was the grandson of Rav Avrohom Dovid Lavut, the author of Kav Noki, and Shaar HaKollel, and the rov in Nikolayev. After Rav Avrohom Dovid’s passing, Rav Meir Shlomo was appointed rov, as per his zeide’s instructions.

When the time came, he married Rochel Pushnitz, daughter of Rav Yitzchok, the rov in Dobrinka, near Nikolayev. He then moved to Romanovka, where his father Rav Yisroel Leib lived. There, his daughter Chana was born on 28 Teves, 5640/1880.

Rav Meir Shlomo was one of the yoshvim in Lubavitch during the time of the Rebbe MahaRash. Those were young men who left their wives to go learn Torah and grow in Chassidus at the Rebbe’s chotzer. Upon returning home he lived in the home of his zeide, Rav Avrohom Dovid until the former’s passing on 18 Elul, 5650/1890.

The Rebbe once repeated what happened upon his return home. He was recounting how the Rebbe Maharash lived a life of great luxury, where all his keylim were either of gold or covered with gold. He wore two gold watches across his chest and his cigarette holder was of gold as well. One of the people listening commented that would it not be better if the money spent on those luxuries was given to Tzedokoh?

To which Rav Meir Shlomo responded: Petach! (fool) for whom else was the gold created, if not for the tzaddik to use?!

Rov of Nikolayev

Before his zeide passed away, he left a note with the chevra kadisha that his eynikel, Rav Meir Sholomo, should take his place as rov; and so it was.

Rav Meir Shlomo was a great gaon in nigleh and Chassidus. He was also a man of peace, who abhorred machlokes and would shun and kavod and honor. He was a great composer of warm, Chassidishe niggunim as well. The Rebbe taught his nigun, Rachamono, on Simchas Torah, 5720/1959.

Rav Meir Shlomo was once struck with Typhus, which claimed many victims in those days. The only recourse in those days was to quarantine those that had contracted the disease. Many would languish in those camps all alone until they passed away. There wasn’t much to do, beside for maybe get a daily injection to help with the pain.

Having been struck with the disease, Rav Meir was also quarantined and left to languish by himself. Were it not for the chossid Reb Osher Grossman “Nikolayever” he may have well left this world with nobody at his side. Reb Osher rushed to the quarantine camp with a sefer Tanya. Realizing that he would not be allowed in, Reb Osher stood at the gate and read out siman 11 of Iggeres HaKodesh – להשכילך בינה – which speaks of the fact that no evil comes from Hashem and that a person must be happy with his lot. He would do this every day for thirty days; he’d go home every day after finishing reading the perek and then come back the next day.

Reb Meir later had a full recovery. He then recounted how after Reb Osher finished reading the perek in Tanya he felt his strength slowly returning to him until he was completely well again.

Rav Levi Yitzchok, the Rebbe’s father, spent several years living in Nikolayev, until he was called to Yekatrinoslav to be rov there. The Rebbe’s bris took place in the home of Rav Meir Shlomo. The Rebbe later spent several summers with his grandparents in Nikolayev. In one michtav kloli the Rebbe refers to his zeide as “Harav HaTzaddik.”

His Passing

Rav Meir Shlomo passed away on the 23rd of Elul, 5693/1933. He was succeeded by his son-in-law, Rav Shmuel Schneersohn, brother of Rav Levi Yitzchok, the Rebbe’s father, who was married to Rebbetzin Chana’s sister Miriam Gittel.

His wife, Rebbetzin Rochel, was murdered by the Nazis in Nikolayev on the 24th of Tishrei, 5702/1941.

For years, the year of his passing was in doubt, with the years ranging from 5693/1933-5697-1937, but in recent years it has been confirmed as 5693/1933.

The Rebbe would say kaddish on this day.

Click here to download the kovetz.

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