He Walked Into Shul and Was Shocked by What He Saw

Entering a shul in dire neglect, Reb Meir of Premishlan suddenly exclaimed, “Ma nora hamakon hazeh! This is no other than the house of Hashem!” To his students’ bewilderment, he explained that sadly only a shul goes so neglected.

R. Meir of Premishlan was born in the year 5540 (1780) to R. Aharon, who was a talmid of R. Michel of Zlotchov. R. Michel of Zlotchov said regarding their family that ruach hakodesh had not left it from the days of the second Beis Hamikdash.

R. Meir became known as a man with “open eyes” and one of the greatest miracle workers of his generation. After hinting at his imminent passing numerous times, he passed away on Shabbos, 29 Iyar 5610 (1850), and was buried in Premishlan, Galicia. His teachings were gathered in the seforim Divrei Meir and Or Hame’ir.


R. Meir was once posed a question on the Rambam by an extremely learned man. R. Meir told the man to come back for an answer the next day, when R. Meir taught him the Rambam in a way that answered the man’s question.

R. Meir explained that he had been in the heavens and asked to be brought to the chamber of the Rambam, who learned the passage with him.

When the Rebbe Rashab was told this story, he affirmed that there is indeed a special “gateway” to learning Torah, which when entered illuminates all that is studied.


In the course of his travels, Reb Meir of Premishlan once went to daven in a shul that was in a state of dire neglect. As soon as he opened the door, he exclaimed in the words of Yaakov Avinu, “Ma nora hamakon hazeh! Ein zeh ki im beis Elokim! How dreadful is this place! This is no other than the house of Hashem!”

The chassidim who accompanied him assumed that with these words the holy Reb Meir was expressing some profound ruchniusdike insight. Seeing that they had not understood him, he explained, “This place is indeed dreadful; it is dangerous to walk around in here! It must be the house of Hashem, for I see that there is no one responsible for caring about its upkeep – unlike the other homes in this town, which seem to be in proper condition.”


Two business partners once asked R. Meir for a bracha for success in an upcoming commercial venture. “Have you written out your partnership contract?” the tzadik asked. They replied in the negative.

Reb Meir wrote the letters Alef, Beis, Gimmel, and Daled on a piece of paper and handed it to them. Seeing their amazement, he explained, “In these four letters, the secret to success is hidden. Each one is an initial: Alef is for emunah (trustworthiness), Beis is for bracha; Gimmel is for gneiva, and Daled is dalus (poverty). If your transactions are trustworthy, they will be blessed; if you cheat, you can expect to become poor.”


The mikvah in Premishlan was on the other side of a steep hill. During the winter, the frozen incline became very slippery, and the townspeople needed to circle the mountain to get there. R. Meir, however, would go straight up.

A couple of young men ridiculed R. Meir’s heavenly powers and wished to demonstrate that they could do it to. But after ascending a good part of the hill, they slipped and fell, sustaining severe injuries.

After they had recovered somewhat, they came to R. Meir came to ask for forgiveness, which R. Meir told did. When they asked how he could ascend the mountain so easily, R. Meir smiled and replied: “Ven m’iz farbinden oiben, falt men nisht unten – when you are connected ‘above,’ you don’t fall down below.”


A chossid once complained to R. Meir about a man who had started a competing business. “He’s stealing my parnassa!” cried the chossid. “Please tell him to close his shop!”

R. Meir told him, “Have you ever noticed how a horse drinks from a pond? He hits the water angrily with his hooves and only when the water becomes muddy does he begin to drink. Why does the horse do this?”

“I don’t know,” said the chossid. “Why?”

“Because the horse sees his reflection in the water and thinks that another horse has come to drink his water. So he kicks and paws until he ‘chases away’ the other horse. What the horse doesn’t understand,” concluded R. Meir, “is that Hashem created enough water for all the horses…”

For sources, visit TheWeeklyFarbrengen.com

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