While all the usual themes associated with our great teachers abound in the life story of Rav Meir, a few stand out here, and are particularly important for our times.
Inspiration. Rav Meir knew how to inspire men to greatness. His Daf Yomi program made it possible for every Jew to complete all of Shas — a feat that had been reserved for full time learners — by challenging them to a daf a day. One year for his birthday, remembered Rav Shmuel HaLevi Wosner Z”L, Rav Meir challenged his 250 talmidim to learn the entire Shas in one day on his behalf. Of course they succeeded, and the walls of the yeshiva shook with the sound of Torah. “The intensity of our joy was beyond description.”
Limud Ha Torah. The Chofetz Chaim once said to Rav Meir Shapiro, “In the World of Truth each Jew is honored in accordance with how much Torah he has studied, and is given a chair engraved with the names of the masechtos he has learned. Until now, many of these seats were empty because people studied only certain masechtos while others were neglected. Thanks to you all the seats are now occupied and there is incredible simcha in Shamayim.”
Ahavas Yisroel. Rav Meir’s beloved Yeshiva Chochmei Lublin was open to all Jews, regardless of their background. The only requirement was that the new bochur be an accomplished talmid chacham, that he have the potential — and the motivation — to become a leader of the next generation.
Politics. While many have disdain for the political, Rav Meir saw in his involvement a way to secure equal treatment for Jews by the Polish government. The Agudah Yisroel won a seat in the Polish parliament when Rav Meir was president, and he became a champion for Jewish rights. The moment he finished his sessions in parliament, though, he returned to his role of community rabbi and renowned talmid chacham.
Joy. Everything Rav Meir did was with simcha. He was famous for his joyous nigunim, and felt that in music we could ascend to the highest levels.