Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Yahrtzeit of Reb Meir Baal HaNeis on Pesach Sheini

The newspapers have been full of ads and stories encouraging donations in the zechus of Reb Meir, Reb Meir Baal HaNeis, whose yahrtzeit is on the fourteenth of Iyar, Pesach Sheini.  Miracles promised, salvations guaranteed, shiduchim aplenty, and refuos veyeshuos galore.

But let it be known that while it's possible that Reb Meir died on the fourteenth of Iyar, chances are 354 to 1 that he did not.  It's just that people get excited to give on the yahrtzeit of a tzadik, and this is the day that became popular.

This is part credulity and part exploitation of the credulous.  That's ok, if it brings people to give more tzedaka,  A bigger problem is that you can be sure that plenty of the money that's drummed up ends up in the pockets of crooks, like the Sheimos trucks that are found abandoned or dumped every year.

Who am I to cast aspersions on our holy mesora?  Am I like those that say that the only reliable kever site is the Mearas HaMachpeila, and that most of the others are an assortment of fabrications and fantasies?  No.  I have no idea who is buried where, and I don't even know enough to have a safek.  But in this case, I'm only the messenger of the Sdei Chemed and the Taamei HaMinhagim.

The Sdei Chemed says that there is absolutely no tradition that dates Reb Meir's petira.  He was bothered by the famous claim about Pesach Sheini, and he investigated.  He sent a letter to the original kehilla that had a shul near the kever, because he knew that they had this minhag of hillula on the fourteenth, and asked them where they got the date from.  They answered that they had built their shul near Reb Meir's kever, and they finished the shul on the fourteenth of Iyar, so they made a celebration for the Chanukas HaBayis.  After all, it was Pesach Sheini, too.  Ever since then, they made their annual gathering to commemorate the completion of the shul on that date.  Nothing to do with Reb Meir.

The Taamei HaMinhagim says that it's just a day people picked so they can stimulate charity in the zechus of Reb Meir.  He calls it a scam.

Now, it's possible that modern science and archeology has revealed things that were hidden in the past, or that mekubalim heard it from Reb Meir himself.  But here's what the Taamei HaMinhagim says.  It seems to me that if even he doesn't believe it, then nobody should believe it.

 בדרך אגב באתי להעיר שיום פטירת התנ״א רבי מאיר בעל הנס לא נזכר בשום מקום, וחדשים מקרוב באו ובדו מלבם חג חדש, כאילו יום פסת שני הוא היא״צ של רמבעה״נ, וידועה כוונתם בזה שיסדו זאת בעסקם בדררא דממונא והמב״י


  1. Once read that this was the date that the kever was discovered, and positively not a yohrtzeit.

  2. And after seeing the SdeiChemed, you believe it? I like the honesty behind the Taamei Haminhogim. No reason to justify fantasies, it's just good old droro dememona.