Monsey Memories: Rav Nussen Yosef Meisels, Longtime Satmar Rosh Yeshiva
By: Yitzy Fried
A legend in the Satmar chassidus, and right hand of the Divrei Yoel—whom he entrusted with everything that was important to him—Rav Nussen Yosef served for years as the satmar Rosh Yeshiva.
He was born to his father, Rav Shloime Meisels, who hailed from a family of Gedolim and Rabbonim. Rav Shloime was tragically killed al Kiddush Hashem in Bergen Belsen. Following the war, Nussen Yosef found himself a young bachur, orphaned and alone. But his gemoro was his companion. He threw himself into learning, and his hasmodoh would be a feature of his throughout his entire life.
Upon arriving in America, he went to the Oivarer Rov to receive semicha from him. He received a glowing approbation attesting to his broad knowledge of all areas of shulchan aruch. But he told him, if you will not use it immediately to serve as a moreh hor’ah for Yidden, I want you to return it to me. It was soon thereafter that the Satmar Rebbe handpicked him to serve as Rosh Yeshiva in his yeshiva, then famously located on Sands Street, and Rav Meisels went back to the Oivarer Ruv to return the semicha.
With this began a glorious chapter of his leadership of the Satmar Yeshiva—but he was much more than that. As the right hand of the Satmar Rebbe, who engaged in so many battles on behalf of Klal Yisroel, he was his confidante and his emissary on a constant basis.
Every Friday night, the Satmar Rebbe would speak animatedly with Rav Nussen Yosef, mostly in learning, as the chassidim were filing through to wish him a gut Shabbos. Once, people mentioned to him that he was preventing the Rebbe from looking at the crowds (thinking that it was he who was approaching the Rebbe). That week, he left shul immediately after davening—but the Rebbe called after him... and with this it was clear that it was the Rebbe who wished to speak with him.
During the tenure of the Beirach Moshe, he was appointed the ruv of Satmar in London.
In 1990, he returned to America, opening a Shul in London, naming Avnei Shloime, in the name of his father, Hy”d. This continued for 16 years, during which time he was a revered figure in Monsey and beyond, and a fountain of knowledge and familiarity about the Divrei Yoel and his philosophy.
The Rosh Yeshiva was niftar in the year 2008, but his legacy lives on in his children, who are great talmidei chachomim, and in the thousands of talmidim that he shaped and retain the memory of a unique talmid chochom who played an enormous role in the development of Satmar in America.