26 Jul AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH RABBI MOSHE MEIR WEISS
CELEBRATING 25 YEARS OF WRITING FOR THE VUES/COUNTRY VUES:
AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH RABBI MOSHE MEIR WEISS BY ARI HIRSCH
Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss, the Rav of the Agudah Yisrael of Staten Island, is celebrating his 25th Anniversary Year writing for The Vues and the Country Vues papers. We are commemorating this special anniversary with a special article about him and his brilliant works of Torah. Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss’s Rebbetzin met Alan Hirsch, Publisher of The Vues and The Country Vues, many years ago, and she introduced her husband to him. We have been lucky to have published over a thousand articles of Torah insights in the paper over the past twenty-five years and imy’h he will continue to write for us ad meah v’esrim shana.
Ari Hirsch: You go by the name Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss. Is there a special reason you use both names?
RMMW: I am named after two very special people: My maternal grandmother’s father was Moshe Weinstock zt”l and my father’s father was Rav Meir Weiss zt”l who was gassed by the Nazis in Auschwitz.
AH: What do you consider your specialty?
RMMW: Shalom Bayis and other relationship issues.
AH: Besides being the Rav in Staten Island and giving numerous shiurim, is there anything else you do?
RMMW: I have been the Rav of the Agudah Yisrael of Staten Island for the past 34 years. I have been teaching seminary girls for over 32 years. I started in Sarah Schnerur 12th grade 32 years ago. I then taught in Rabbi Balkany’s Keter Beis Yaakov. Then for 17 years I taught in Seminary Machon Beis Yaakov and when it tragically closed I started teaching in Gesher L’daas. I’m also a switch hitter and I give a weekly schmooze to the upper High School in Rabbi Wallerstein’s Ohr Yitzchak for Boys. I have also given Daf Yomi for five cycles in my shul in Staten Island and 4 cycles late nights in Boro Park in the 14th Ave Agudah and when it closed at the Sephardishe shul. My biggest arena to be marbitz Torah, is on the technological front. I have over 6,000 shiurim on the Kol Halashon network- all of Shas Gemara, all of Shas Mishnayos, years of Chumash shiurim, and my latest project is almost 60 shiurim on Orchos Chayim L’Rush. I also have close to 800 video shiurim on Torahanytime.com which is viewed in 90 countries. I am always looking for speaking circuits in cities around the tri-state area, where I specialize in going through a town and doing about 30 shiurim in 48 hours, speaking in schools, the different shuls, ranging from Sephardi to Kippah Srugah. I’ve spoken in scores of hotels across the tristate area.
AH: Are you working on another book now?
RMMW: Yes, I am working on something called “The Impact Haggadah,” which will hopefully be a Seder companion for parents who want to impact their families during the seders. With G-d’s help it will be ready for this Pesach.
AH: What do you consider the biggest issues that face Klal Yisrael today?
RMMW: Without a doubt, it’s the shidduch crisis with over 25,000 girls in the Upper West Side alone. Right behind that is the inability of the middle class to be economically solvent. The chokehold of tuition upon even a two-income family is a crisis that we have not yet come to grips with. Finally, the seductiveness of today’s technology and its effects on our youth and how to deal with this is yet another challenge for the modern day Rav, Rebbie, and Morah. Each one of these issues deserves its own article.
AH: What was your relationship with the Gadol Hador Rabbi Moshe Feinstein zt”l?
RMMW: Besides being one of the last people to receive smicha from Reb Moshe, I had the privilege of being with Reb Moshe when he was in the Yeshiva of Staten Island and in Camp Kerhonkson for about a decade. I brought Reb Moshe his meals and helped him in the camp. I was able to observe very closely his great warmth and diligence.
AH: How many years have you been coming to the Catskills?
RMMW: As a child, the first time we went away for the summer was in 1963. My parents took a “shared” bungalow, where we shared the same kitchen with Rabbi Yisrael Reisman’s parents’ bungalow. This was in the Rockaways. I have 2 pictures of Rabbi Yisrael and myself riding bicycles as children together! My parents went to the Catskills in 1964 and we’ve been coming every summer since! We spent 17 years in Dishners, until it was sold to Skolya. We were one year in Village Green. I’m currently in Sun Circle for the past fifteen years. My entire married life we’ve been coming upstate over the summer.
AH: How did you meet the publisher of The Vues/The Country Vues, Alan Hirsch?
RMMW: My Rebbetzin was very close with Alan Hirsch’s sister Jill Bodner a’h from Staten Island and met Alan Hirsch many times in Boro Park. The Rebbetzin suggested that I should put my articles in The Vues because she enjoyed reading the paper every week & thought that Brooklyn would appreciate her husband’s articles. It’s hard to believe, but it’s been 25 years! I would like to give Alan & his son Ari a big yasher koach for doing such a great job with the magazine. People don’t realize how much it takes to run a paper 52 weeks a year for 39 years. The Vues Magazine probably has more archives of my articles in their office and on their web site thevuesonline.com than anyone else.
AH: What do you think is the most popular article you have written over the years?
RMMW: The article that I got the most comments about from The Vues was “How to Take Your Spouse Out.” I have been asked for reprints of that article more than any other article I wrote. Another very popular article was “52 ways to do Teshuva.” It was a three-part article with recommendations in Elul for how to do Teshuva. Another very popular article was about the Super Bowl. Your father [Alan Hirsch, Publisher] might be nostalgic about the Daf Yomi article, because he credits learning Daf Yomi to that article. Another extremely popular article which also was the cover of The Jewish Press was about a child that was missing in my neighborhood that showed the achdus of Klal Yisrael in a time of need.
AH: What is the mission of your articles?
RMMW: Each article is written with the aim to improve and change my reader’s life. It is for this reason that I write for many different publications, because I realize that each one has its own readership.
AH: How does your Rebbetzin manage to do so much when you have such a busy schedule?
RMMW: I have no idea. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without my wife’s support. A tribute to her total involvement was paid one Erev Yom Kippur when the phone rang in my house. My daughter answered. “Rabbi Moshe Sherer is on the phone,” she told her mother. “So quickly call Tatty,” the Rebbetzin responded. My daughter 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.
AH: What’s next for Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss?
RMMW: Besides for the Haggadah which we talked about, I have a dream of getting someone like Shlomo Rechnitz to finance a hundred shiur tour in California, where I’ve never been. One day I’d also like to take my rebbetzin, she should have a refuah sheleimah Miriam Liba bas Devorah, on a cross-country speaking tour. And then of course, to keep up with all my shiurim.
AH: Is there anything else you want to tell Country Vues readers.
RMMW: Always check if you have your priorities right. Make sure to put your family first. Make sure to learn every 12 hours. Don’t forget your parents. Spend lots of time with your children and grandchildren. Give more tzedakah then you’re giving now. Never lose sight of investing in your olam haba. Don’t make the mistake of getting so wrapped up in your work that you forget about living your life.
Fast & Fun Facts about Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss
Born: In Maimondes hospital in Boro Park (at that time it was known as Israel Zion)
Residence: Staten Island
Education: Elementary- Rabbi Jacobson- Tiferes Torah; High School and Mesivta years- Yeshiva of Staten Island; S’micha- Rav Moshe Feinstein in the early 80’s.
Books Authored: Five books — Passionate Judaism, Meaningful Living, Challenging Times, Rabbi Weiss on the Yamim Nora’im, and the newest book, Power Bentching.
Favorite Mesechta: Brachos and Nedarim
Hardest Mesechta: the two perakim in Bava Metzia of Hazahav and Ezel Nesher
Favorite Musician: Not a big music fan but I love Shlomo Carlebach stories
Hobbies: Tennis, paddle ball, and chess. Presently plays Chess time on line where he can play simultaneously 8 games at a time. Chess rating is 1650. Of 37,000 people in America, Rabbi Weiss is rated #600. In the world where there are over 1,700,000 players, he is ranked #2,300. (By the way, the Rambam was also a great chess player)