Mar 24, 2014

R' Meir Schuster z'l - part 2

I posted about R' Meir Schuster z"l a month ago here.  Since then, I've read a number of articles about him which only reinforce what I wrote previously. 


Since I've written recently about little things adding up, I was struck by this point made by R' Edelstein who was executive director of R' Schuster's Heritage House for 20 years.  He said, "There are many unusual stories about this man and about the people he affected for life.  But his daily routine wasn't about the exotic.  R' Meir's greatness lay in the smallest deeds; in the consistency and daily pursuit of his cumulative acts of sensitivity and profound commitment to each neshama.  There was nothing complicated about what he did.  He just did it every moment of his life."

And that is greatness.

The Power of Will

Another point.  Some people think that to be successful in kiruv, in order to attract the unaffiliated, you need to be "cool," i.e. have a certain modern look, sound like you can relate to today's generation, and be knowledgeable about what's going on in the world.  R' Schuster was far from hip.  He dressed in a suit, hat and tie as though he was just on his way to or from yeshiva or shul.  He did not possess charisma in the conventional sense.  He had ratzon, and there is nothing that stands in the way of ratzon - will, persistence, determination.  As Rabbi Yehuda Silver, a kiruv professional, put it, "He was living proof that we all have latent potential that can be actualized when we choose to tap into it and together, with Hashem's help, we can overcome any limitation."

No Calculations; No Discouragement

Some lines from R' Yonoson Rosenblum's column:

"His own ego played no role.  He never asked himself whether he was well-suited to approach hundreds of complete strangers every day for nearly 40 years or whether he was likely to be successful in getting them to taste Torah for the first time.  For if he had asked the question, the answer would have been a resounding no.  But in his calculations, only Hashem's purposes counted.

"I would guess that the percentage of those who responded positively to his entreaties to hear a class on Jewish philosophy or to meet a wise man (Rabbi Noah Weinberg) was less than 20% and that of those who did agree to a class, only a small fraction remained in yeshiva for more than a few hours.  Yet he could not be deterred by rejection."

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