that day on I have striven to relive the sublime feelings, the awe, the joy,
the inner fervor for holiness which were awakened by being in his presence.
- Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe (Preface to
Mirrer Mashgiach, as Rabbi Levovitz was known, was one of the most
influential musar thinkers of his time.
He first studied with R. Noson Zvi Finkel of Slabodka, who sent him
to Kelm where he arrived in the last year of R. Simcha Zisel ,the Alter of
Kelms life. Rabbi Levovitz said that all of his thought was a commentary
on R.S.Z. Reflecting back many
years later he recounted his feelings at the funeral of his mentor:
I have only now begun to understand what man is, and what his
obligations are, just now are
my eyes opened as I heard your words just a few times and now you have left
Levovitz first became Mashgiach (spiritual mentor) in the Mirrer
Yeshivah in 1908, but during the dislocations caused by World War 1 he
assumed various positions in different Yeshivos until 1923 when he returned
to his position in Mir.
was a man of powerful intellect who accomplished in the sphere of Aggada
what others of his generation achieved in the sphere of Halacha.
He unraveled many puzzling aggadic passages and made them shine with
fresh clarity and light.
believed that mans inherent nature was the best guide to understanding
Torah. He once said, a
person who does not recognize his abilities cannot understand Torah. Mans labor must be from within himself, not imitating
others; by bringing the grandeur of Torah to ourselves we can attain all we
need for our avodah (service) in attaining shleimus (wholeness). Faith must reach the level of our instinctual being (chush).
Ones physical body must become one with his neshama.
the last period oh his life, highly educated students from Western Europe
and America came to the Yeshiva with many questions.
Reb Yeruchem devoted much time to explaining the difference between
the knowledge of Torah and that of science and he had a great impact.
After many years one of those
students was asked why he became such a fiery Chasid of Reb Yeruchem.
He replied that he was one of the dead whom Reb Yeruchem had revived
and that was enough reason.
personality was regal, but self-effacing.
His devotion to his students knew no bounds.
He once took sick and was prevailed upon to visit Carlsbad. At the time he wrote to a friend that he did not know whether
it was proper to forsake the Yeshiva for a man involved in the group can
never leave and I question whether he may do so even when his life is at
stake (pikuach nefashos). Reb
Yeruchems essays are collected in Daas, Chochmah, and Musar
and his lectures on Chumash in Daas Torah. A lengthy essay, on Reb Yeruchems life and thought, Adam
Biykar, was written by Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe.
The above graphic includes photographs that were provided by VERAfilm archives.