Known as the Piaseczner Rebbe, Rabbi Shapira was one of the central figures of Polish Jewry before and during the second World War. 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 Men’s 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.