Known as the Piaseczner Rebbe, Rabbi Shapira was
one of the central figures of Polish
before and during the Second
. A descendant of some of the greatest Polish Hasidic
masters, he sought to re-ignite the Hasidic fervor of the early masters
and thereby combat the increased secularization of the time. In his
first work, Hovat HaTalmidim
(Translated into English as the Students Responsibility
, Aronson, 1991), while minimizing the
role of rote learning and discipline, Rabbi Shapira seeks to imbue the
student with a sense of his spiritual potential. In a sequel volume, Hachsharat HeAvrechim
(The Young Mens Preparation
published posthumously, he pursues the goal of higher levels of spirituality
employing meditative technique.
Rabbi Shapira did not survive the war. He experienced
its horrors, enduring an escalating series of tragedies and sufferings.
Miraculously, a record of his continued faith during the worst of times
has survived. A volume Aish Kodesh (Holy Fire) of the sermon
he delivered in the Warsaw
ghetto was found after the war.