Thousands of Bnei Brak residents led by HaRav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz and HaRav Chaim Kanievsky shlita, roshei yeshivos, dayonim and rabbonim turned out Motzei Shabbos Parshas Nosso to lay to rest HaRav Menachem Meir Zioni zt"l, av beis din of Tel Aviv, who passed away following an illness at the age of 92.
Menachem Meir Zioni was born in Elul 5677 (1917) in Arzamas, Russia to HaRav Nisan Ben Tzion, the ravad of the city and later the rov of Amstavdova and Bodaky, and the son-in-law of Rav Moshe Arner, who was renown for his tremendous tzidkus and meticulous adherence to mitzvah observance.
Later in life he would recall that as a child during Succos the family members would eat in the succah bundled in winter clothes. After the seudah everyone went into the house, but his father, Rav Nisan, would spend the first night in the succah, immediately get sick and then become exempt. Meanwhile his grandfather would spend all eight days in the frigid cold of the succah.
He studied at the yeshiva ketanoh in Bialystok under HaRav Aryeh Acht, author of the Mishnas Aryeh on Bovo Kammo, and studied with HaRav Moshe Shmuel Shapira.
In Elul 5692 (1932) he was sent to study under HaRav Boruch Ber Leibowitz in Kamenitz, where he spent two years studying assiduously, often standing to improve his focus. He learned with HaRav Reuven Yosef Gershonovitz and would share his chiddushim with HaRav Reuven Grozovsky.
Following the petiroh of his mother, the daughter of Rav Moshe Arner zt"l, he returned to his father's home in Nisan 5694 (1934) and in Elul of that year began learning at Yeshivas Mir. The Rosh Yeshiva, HaRav Eliezer Yudel Finkel would not admit him since he was just 18 years old at a time when many of the talmidim were exceptional students in their thirties who had authored seforim and were considered among the most formidable bnei yeshivos in Lithuania, including HaRav Dovid Povarsky and HaRav Michel Feinstein. Nevertheless the young man kept learning in the beis medrash of the yeshiva, and every two weeks would discuss his chiddushim with the Rosh Yeshiva until he eventually won admission.
When his father told the young man to join him in moving to Eretz Yisroel, Menachem Meir went to part with the Rosh Yeshiva, who urged him to remain. But at his father's insistence the two traveled to Eretz Hakodesh in 5695 (1935).
The young man continued his studies at Yeshivas Chevron, where the Mashgiach, HaRav Leib Chasman zt"l, made a powerful impression on him during the month of Elul just before passing away.
With the Jerusalem riots of 5696 (1936) the Arabs instilled fear in the streets. Only the most dedicated, intrepid students remained at the yeshiva, including HaRav Lefkowitz shlita, the Zolti Brothers and HaRav Chaim Aharon Turtzin. With a chaburoh of just 20 talmidim each of them undertook to deliver a shiur once every two weeks. "The omol and yegiyoh during that period at the yeshiva kept the sound of Torah going strong," said HaRav Yechezkel Sarna zt"l at the time.
During this period HaRav Zioni regularly saw his cousin, ylct"a HaRav Eliashiv, with whom he maintained contact throughout his lifetime, as well as HaRav Isser Zalman Meltzer.
In 5702 (1942) he married Shprintze Tikvoh, the daughter of Rav Peretz Segal, who was renowned for his acts of chessed in Tel Aviv and as the father of HaRav Shfatia Segal. After the wedding he continued his studies at Yeshivas Heichal HaTalmud in Tel Aviv.
From an early age he would learn alibo dehilchoso and for several years did shimush under HaRav Shmuel Yaffeh, the son-in-law of the Beis Halevi zt"l and in 5717 (1957) he was appointed a dayan at the Tel Aviv Beis Din. He was particularly conversant in the laws of gittin and was respected by all gedolei Yisroel in this complex field of halochoh.
He served as a dayan for several decades, and later as av beis din. After reaching retirement age he was asked to remain in his post, and until his health began to fail he would appear regularly at the beis din, sanctifying the Name of Heaven with his dignified manner.
After suffering paralysis several years ago he moved to Bnei Brak. Two months ago he was hospitalized at Mayanei Hayeshua, where he received exceptional treatment until returning his soul to his Maker on Shabbos Parshas Nosso.
Maspidim at the levaya included HaRav Michel Lefkowitz, the niftar's son-in-law HaRav Yaakov Yosef Auerbach, rov of Ramat Chen, his son-in-law HaRav Simchoh Zissel Shapira, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Tiferes Yisroel in Haifa, and his grandson HaRav Ben Tzion Zioni, a rosh kollel in Tel Aviv who spoke in place of his father.
The funeral then proceeded to Nachalas Yitzchok Cemetery, where he was buried beside his first wife in a plot he purchased during his lifetime.
HaRav Menachem Meir Zioni zt"l is survived by his second wife, his brother HaRav Reuven Ben Tzion, his daughters, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren, who carry on the spiritual legacy he passed on to them during his lifetime.