HaRav Moshe Meir Weiss

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Early Influences
Rabbi Weiss had several people who influenced him greatly in his youth, leading him to dedicate his life to be marbitz Torah to the masses. As a young teen, Moshe Meir Weiss was mesmerized by Harav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l. A student in the Yeshivah of Staten Island, he saw his Rosh Yeshivah’s incredible diligence in Torah learning and was inspired by the warmth he exuded. An older bachur, Moshe Bodner, would bring the Rav his food, and Rabbi Weiss finally mustered the courage to ask if he could help carry the milk and soda bottles.



After a year, Moshe Bodner left the yeshivah, and Rabbi Weiss began bringing the Rosh Yeshivah his meals. Thus started a decade of close contact with Rav Feinstein, a relationship that had an enormous impact on the young Moshe Meir — who grew up to inspire thousands and thousands of people around the world through his shiurim and teleconferences.



“Rav Feinstein’s sefarim impacted the entire world,” said Rabbi Weiss. “I developed a deep desire to make an impact as well. In Reb Moshe’s preface to Dibros Moshe on Bava Kama, he writes that a person is asked by Hashem at the end of his days if he was marbitz Torah as much as he was able to. That is a question I want to be able to answer well. “My parents were also a huge influence in my life. My mother, Mrs. Agnes (Esther Fradyl) Weiss-Goldman, is the one who pushed me to go to Rav Moshe’s yeshivah. My father, Reb Heshy Weiss, z”l, initially wanted me to be a doctor, and my mother was a driving force in my path toward yeshivah.”



His father may have wanted him to be a doctor, but he also wanted his son to shine in Torah. “He was a big influence,” said Rabbi Weiss. “When I was seventeen, my father took our family to a hotel for Pesach. His reason for going was different from that of most families — he had a deal with the organizer that he would only come if his sons were asked to give the drashos. The biggest joy I remember is seeing his beaming face in the crowd as I spoke. My father is really the one who propelled me into my teaching career from an early age.”



Another major influence was Rav Avigdor Miller, zt”l. When his tapes first became popular in the early 1970s, Rabbi Weiss listened to hundreds of them. Rabbi Miller spoke about being a meaningful Jew, and he once said that anyone who listened to one hundred of his tapes was an idealist. That would make Rabbi Weiss an idealist many times over. “I absorbed from him a desire to impact the masses, as he did through his cassettes and sefarim. While I had a strong desire, I didn’t have any plans for how to bring this desire to fruition. It was in 1983, when I was twenty-three years old, that I had my first opportunity to begin teaching.” Harnessing Radio Rabbi Weiss was still in the Yeshivah of Staten Island when Mr. Paul Trenk called the yeshivah and asked for a particular bachur to begin giving a regular Daf Yomi shiur at Harav Tzvi Pollack’s shul in Staten Island. The bachur in question wasn’t available, so Rav Reuven Feinstein suggested Moshe Meir Weiss. “I traveled every day from yeshivah to the shul to give over the daf. A few months later I married Miriam Libby Gelbtuch. There were a number of Agudah members in my shiur, and when their rabbi left, they asked me to become the Rav of the Agudah shul. I accepted and moved my shiur there, and I have been giving the Daf Yomi shiur and serving as Rav for the past twenty-eight years. We are currently in our fourth cycle of Daf Yomi.”



Based on the popularity of that Daf Yomi shiur, Mr. Fayvie Berman suggested that Rabbi Weiss begin speaking on the radio. Rabbi Weiss went to radio station WNYM (1330 AM) and asked about available time slots, and he was offered a slot from one to two a.m.! “Is anyone even listening then?” Rabbi Weiss was more than a little doubtful. “Oh, this is radio,” the man said. “You have no idea how many people are listening.” Rabbi Weiss accepted, although he could barely afford the $200 a week that the radio slot cost. His wife accompanied him to the station every evening when he went to give his shiur. She taped the shiur and answered phone calls from people who wanted to purchase the taped shiurim, which helped pay for the air time. “Until this day I hear stories of people who listened to my shiur on radio,” says Rabbi Weiss. “Many of them were people who were in the hospital and unable to sleep. Others would rig up contraptions so they could record the shiur from the radio.”

His favorite story by far, though, is about the time his brother saw an ad for a used table and went to pick up his new purchase. When he paid with a check, the owner looked carefully at the name. “Israel Weiss?” he said. “You wouldn’t by any chance know Moshe Meir Weiss?” “Sure,” said Rabbi Yisroel Weiss, a bit warily. “He’s my brother.” “Your brother! Well, he haunted my house until I had to get an exorcist to get rid of him!” Thoroughly confused, Rabbi Weiss waited for him to explain. “We lived in our house for years without any problem. Suddenly one night, there was a voice that came out of every room in the house, speaking Talmud. We couldn’t stop it no matter what we did. Finally, someone told me I was being spooked and we needed to get an exorcist. “We brought one in, but to no avail. Each night the voice continued to haunt me. We finally brought in a contractor who discovered that the previous owner had installed a speaker in every room. Somehow the frequency had changed, and the speakers were broadcasting only your brother’s class every night!” From Radio to Tapes After two years of Daf Yomi on the radio, Mr. Paul Trenk and Yitzchok Reinitz, z”l, approached Rabbi Weiss. “It would be great to have you on the radio when more people are actually up,” Mr. Trenk said. “I’ll sponsor a half-hour of Chumash on the radio every Motzoei Shabbos.”

These shiurim were also taped and sold, but the biggest jump in the number of subscribers came when Rabbi Weiss had a piece of writing printed in a Megillas Esther (Soncino Edition) put out by Judaica Press. This megillah was given as a bonus to all new subscribers to The Jewish Press. Rabbi Weiss sent a Torah tape on Megillas Esther to all those who had received the subscription bonus, with information on how to become a regular subscriber to his tapes. Many signed up. “My wife and I started with a tape duplicator that allowed us to copy one tape at a time. Nowadays, on Tuesday nights, my wife and I stay up half the night duplicating tapes and CDs. Now we’re able to duplicate twenty-three tapes and eleven CDs at a time. We then label and package them so people can get them as soon as possible. During the summer we would shlep all our equipment to the country and package from there. “I’ve been sending out tapes, and more recently CDs, for the past twentyseven years. During all this time, my wife continues to be my full partner in everything I do.”

Harnessing the Written Word
Rabbi Weiss wanted to reach yet more people, and his opportunity wasn’t long in coming. “Country Yossi had a radio show on the same radio station as I did, and we became friends. I suggested that he not put all his eggs in one basket, and he started a magazine. He asked me to write two Torah articles for each issue, and I’ve had Torah published in his magazine ever since, for the past fifteen years. “I liked the idea of being able to reach thousands of people each week through the written word, and so about fifteen years ago, I sent an article to The Jewish Press, which turned into a weekly column. Over the years, I have written five books — Passionate Judaism, Meaningful Living, Challenging Times, Rabbi Weiss on the Yamim Nora’im, and the newest book, Power Bentching.”

Cycling Through Daf Yomi
Twenty-five years ago, Rabbi Eli Teitelbaum, z”l, started Dial-a-Daf, a division of the Torah Communications Network. Since Rabbi Weiss was already giving a regular Daf Yomi shiur, he asked him to participate in the Daf Yomi segment of his network. “I wanted very much to participate, but it was very hard since it necessitated being several masechtos ahead in order to prepare properly,” he says. “As I was teaching the current Daf Yomi, this was very difficult, but when he started Dial-a-Shiur, they began using my Chumash tapes. Today they have over eight hundred of my taped shiurim. Sometimes I go to the office, and there is a huge switchboard where you can see which speaker the caller has chosen. It’s very rewarding when I see my name flashing all over this switchboard.”



A little more than twenty years ago, Rabbi Weiss’s father became very ill. Wanting to do something as a zechus for him, Rabbi Weiss started a new Daf Yomi shiur in Boro Park. As soon as it was established, the shiur had over 250 participants each night. This continued for several years, until the shiur divided into several smaller shiurim. Each night, Rabbi Weiss would videotape the shiur and take it to his father’s bedside. It was a late shiur that started at ten in the evening, which meant Rabbi Weiss usually didn’t get home until midnight. Yet for the past twenty-one years he has faithfully kept up this shiur, giving two Daf Yomi shiurim each evening. His reward comes from people who write him letters saying that because of him, they have finished Shas through Daf Yomi for the first time in their lives.

A Strong Support
“I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without my wife’s support,” says Rabbi Weiss. A tribute to her total involvement was paid one Erev Yom Kippur when the phone rang in the Weiss home. Rabbi Weiss’s young daughter answered. “Rabbi Moshe Sherer is on the phone,” she told her mother. “So quickly call Tatty,” her mother responded. The little girl passed the receiver to her mother. “No, he wants to speak to you.” “Rebbetzin Weiss,” Rabbi Sherer said, “your husband gives two shiurim in two different Agudah shuls — one at eight, and another at ten p.m.” “That’s right,” she responded. “So your husband is pretty much out of the house from eight p.m. until twelve a.m.” “That’s right,” she responded, wondering where this was heading. “Well, you’re the mother of young children and it can’t be easy for you. On behalf of Agudah, we want to thank you for your sacrifice for Torah. Please wish your husband a good year from me, but this call is for you.”

Spreading Outward
As technology kept evolving, Rabbi Weiss’s ability to reach the masses grew. About thirteen years ago, technology produced a contraption called 8 x 8 video that could be attached to the phone and enabled another person to see and hear the speaker, without online capability. “I realized the massive potential this could have in getting Daf Yomi to people, and I started using it,” says Rabbi Weiss. “A shul in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, used it to learn Daf Yomi each night along with my regular shiur. They would finish the entire Shas with us! At one point I had three cameras attached to the phone — one to Fresno, California, one to Memphis, Tennessee, and another to a private home in Monsey.” Soon his shiurim were being recorded for the Kol Haloshon global teleconferencing system. “I now have over five thousand archived shiurim on the system,” says Rabbi Weiss, “and there are hundreds of listeners a month.” Rabbi Weiss carries his Kol Haloshon bag in his car, which enables him to record any time he gives a class. “I teach a class in Brooklyn’s Machon Bais Yaakov Seminary — that goes on the women’s line. My weekly Chumash shiur goes on the parashah line. Every time I travel somewhere to give a drashah, I record it for the special topics line. All of these can be accessed for free by dialing the general Kol Haloshon number, (718) 906-6400, and following the prompts. “This past summer I began learning a new cycle of Mishnah Yomis and I teach two mishnahs a day. It’s a fifteen-minute program, and you can access it any time by calling (718) 906-6471. We already finished the entire Seder Zera’im and are presently in the middle of maseches Shabbos.” His shiurim are further spread by an online Torah site, which sends a videographer to his Chumash shiur. The shiur is posted online and is available to viewers in over ninety countries.



Making an Impact
Spreading Torah in yet another way, Rabbi Weiss travels to other cities and gives thirty to fifty shiurim within a few days. “I go anywhere that’s drivable,” he said. “I enjoy traveling to different cities and can speak to kindergarten students as easily as I can relate to senior citizens.” Rabbi Weiss’s favorite topic is shalom bayis, harmony in the home. “I feel it’s the way I can sweeten people’s lives in the most meaningful way. I always suggest this as a topic when I’m asked to give a shiur in shul or in a bungalow colony. If that topic is not accepted, then my next topic of choice is tefillah. Prayer is something we use three times a day. It’s a question of impact. That’s why I chose the power of bentching as the subject of my new book. “Bentching helps with parnassah, and in today’s economy everyone can use its power. My hope is that it eventually becomes a textbook used in schools and that it can be translated into Hebrew, Yiddish, French and Russian.” Rabbi Weiss talks about the time he gave a shiur to a group of women out of town. One of them stood up before he started speaking. She said, “Rabbi Weiss, you don’t know me, but many years ago I went to a hotel for Pesach. I had decided I was getting a divorce after Pesach. After listening to your three-part series on shalom bayis, I decided that I wasn’t being a good wife. Instead of making a decision to file for divorce, I made a decision to be a better wife. It’s now eleven years later, and I want to publicly thank you!”



It started with a simple desire to make an impact. Now, almost thirty years later, this desire is affecting thousands of people in meaningful ways. It is Rabbi Weiss’s fervent hope that readers of this article will be motivated to check out his shiurim, his columns and his sefarim, and that they too will be inspired to be marbitz Torah.

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