For over 200 years the name of Rabbi Meir Baal Haness has been associated with both assistance for the needy in Eretz Yisroel, as well as miraculous yeshuos for Jews who donated in honor of Rabbi Meir Baal Haness. Their generosity enabled our destitute brethren in Israel to be clothed, fed, and supported in dignity.
Rabbi Meir, known as Rabbi Meir Baal Haness because of the amazing miracles that he performed, pledged to intercede in Heaven for anyone who donates money to the poor of Israel. This pledge, and the extraordinary work of Rabbi Meir Baal Haness Charities resounds with Jewish people across the globe, bringing salvation both to the donors who support Rabbi Meir Baal Haness Charities, as well as needy families, Torah scholars, widows, orphans, and the ill and infirm in Israel.
Rabbi Meir merited studying under the great sage, Rabbi Akiva and Rabban Gamliel, and was a contemporary of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochi. This was during a time when the Romans lorded over the Jews of Israel, and didn’t allow them to keep basic mitzvah observances.
A descendant of a convert, the Roman General Nero, Rabbi Meir Baal Haness was married to Bruriah, the daughter of Rabbi Chanina ben Teradyon. She was renowned for her great brilliance and wisdom, and is often mentioned in the Gemarah. Bruriah was extremely knowledgeable in Talmud learning, and was able to win sages in Talmudic arguments.
Rabbi Meir Baal Haness has long been associated with miraculous salvations, and Rabbi Meir has long been called a miracle maker. The start of Rabbi Meir Baal Haness as a miracle maker goes back to a time when he saved his sister-in-law from a brothel (where the Romans held her captive).
Rabbi Meir had promised the warden of the brothel a basketful of dinars to release his sister-in-law, but the warden was afraid of being caught. Rabbi Meir told the warden that if he would call out: “G-d of Rabbi Meir, answer me.” he would be saved.
How did Rabbi Meir convince the warden that this would work? He went in proximity of a pack of dangerous dogs, and called out: “G-d or Rabbi Meir, answer me.” Indeed, Rabbi Meir was saved, and the dogs didn’t harm him.
The warden released Rabbi Meir’s sister-in-law, and was later caught and tried for his ‘sin’ of releasing a prisoner from captivity. About to be hanged, the warden called out: “G-d or Rabbi Meir, answer me.” The noose snapped, and the warden was free to go. Thus was the start of Rabbi Meir Baal Haness as a miracle maker. After that, it became a tradition to invoke the memory of Rabbi Meir Baal Haness and give charity in his name, while saying the words: “G-d of Meir, answer me.”
The yahrtzeit of Rabbi Meir Baal Haness is on the 14th of Iyar. While he passed away in exile, outside of Israel, his remains were brought to Teveria, in Israel, close to his teacher Rabbi Akiva. Before his passing the Rabbi said that his legacy to generations to come would be that he would intercede in heaven on any person’s behalf if the person is willing to give charity to the poor of Israel in his memory. The anniversary of the Rabbi’s death is a particularly busy day at the grave site. Thousands of people come to pay their respects and ask for the Rabbi Meir’s intervention on their behalf.
Today, Eretz Yisroel is a small country populated by Jews of all types and stripes, and a magnet for tourists. Just a few hundred years ago, Israel was desolate in comparison. The few Jews who lived in Israel had arrived there after long, dangerous journeys, with great personal sacrifice. Their only mission in traveling to the Holy Land, was to connect to the holiness of the land, and serve Hakadosh Baruch Hu. With few options for livelihood, the destitute Torah scholars had little means of sustenance. Their brethren in Chutz L’Aretz, however, found it an honor to support the Torah scholars of Israel, and enable them to remain steeped in the Heavenly pursuit of Torah learning. Rabbi Meir Baal Haness Charities was founded in 1799, and their donors sent a continuous stream of funds to enable Torah learning in Eretz Yisroel to flourish.
Rabbi Meir Baal Haness Charities has grown in a way that the early founders of Rabbi Meir Baal Haness could never foretell. The reach of Rabbi Meir Baal Haness’ activities is farther both in quantity and locale. True to the original mission of Rabbi Meir Baal Haness Charities, we continue to support Torah scholars and Torah education in Eretz Yisroel. Our network of charities support Torah scholars, widows, orphans, new mothers, brides, and special education initiatives in several cities within Israel.
Past recipients of Rabbi Meir Baal Haness support are prominent Torah leaders, and alumni from our Torah institutions have authored major Torah publications. Your support of Rabbi Meir Baal Haness Charities ensures that young children grow in their Torah studies, and that Torah scholars remain dedicated to a true Torah lifestyle unburdened by the financials of daily living.