Revered by the gedolim of his day and sought after by those in need of yeshuos, Rav Meir’l of Premishlan was born in 1783 and he grew up in a home where he was surrounded by purity and piety. The son of Harav Aharon Leib of Premishlan and the grandson of HaRav Meir Hagadol of Premishlan who was a talmid of the Baal Shem Tov, Rav Meir’l himself was a disciple of illustrious rabbonim including HaRav Mordechai of Kreminitz, HaRav Moshe Leib of Sassov and the Chozeh of Lublin, HaRav Yaakov Yitzchok Halevi Horowitz.
Even from his earliest days, it was evident that Rav Meir’l was unique and his mother would often comment “Meirlech like this don’t grow in every garden.” By the time he was ten years old, his rare gifts were already evident, his weekly trips to the market to collect tzedaka for the poor enhanced by his ability to look at animals and accurately declare whether or not they would be found kosher once they had been shechted. Butchers would pay him handsomely for his services and while he was elated to be able to give even more tzedaka, his father was less than pleased when he learned of the practice, telling him that things that he knew through Ruach HaKodesh should not be revealed to others.
Known as a Baal Mofes, Rav Meir’l chose to live his life in abject poverty, giving away his material possessions and even household necessities to help others in need. In one instance, he received a large sum of money as a gift from a couple who had been blessed with a child through his brachos, accompanied by a letter describing him as a tzaddik. Rav Meir’l’s told his children that he intended to return the money but they argued that the funds could be well spent to relieve their poverty at least for some time. Rav Meir’l and his children went to a din Torah to decide how to proceed and while the dayanim ruled that he had every right to keep the money, Rav Meir’l still felt uncomfortable with the gift, turning to his wife and agreeing to abide by her word. Listening to both sides of the situation, she sided with Rav Meir’l, telling him that throughout his life he had been scrupulous in his kashrus and had refrained from eating anything about which there could have been the slightest question and that clearly he should proceed in the same way with the money he had received. Heartened by her answer, Rav Meir returned the gift the very same day.
In another well-known story mentioned by the Chabad Rebbeim, Rav Meir’l was known to walk directly down a steep mountain path to the mikvah, while others would take a less challenging circuitous path in slippery weather. While others who attempted to take the route traveled by Rav Meir’l often fell and sustained broken bones and other injuries, Rav Meir’l never experienced any difficulties. Seeing Rav Meir’l confidently striding down the path, two visitors to Premishlan who refused to believe in Rav Meir’l’s reputation as a baal mofes attempted to navigate the same route, falling immediately and becoming terribly injured. Hearing of the story Rav Meir’l commented simply “If a man is bound up on high, he doesn’t fall down below.”
Rav Meir’s divrei Torah were printed in several different seforim and were compiled in 1998 into a collection titled Panim Meirim and the Premishlan dynasty continues to this day with his direct descendant, Rabbi Meir Rosenbaum, in Bnei Brak. He passed away on the 29th of Iyyar Erev Rosh Chodesh Sivan in Premishlan in the year 1850. With a recent $1.5 million restoration to his Ohel, led by Rabbi Meyer Chaim Greenbaum, which includes a hotel, a mikvah and kosher food when arranged in advance, easing the journey for travelers who come to daven by his kever and that of his wife and children.