One of the most saintly and admired leaders in the Orthodox Jewish community, and well known in Israel’s political arena, The Vizhnitzer Rebbe, Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Hager, passed away in Bnei Brak late Tuesday night, after years of suffering. He was 95.
An estimated crowd of over 100,000 filled the streets of Bnei Brak to attend the funeral on Wednesday afternoon. Joining the throngs of chasidim who came from all over the world in paying tribute to one of the world admired Chasidic leaders.
The Rebbes sons-in-laws, the Belzer Rebbe, the Skverer Rebbe, and Satmar Rebbe of Kiryas Yoel were all in attendance.
Rabbi Hager, born in 1916, was the son of Rebbe Chaim Meir Hagar of Vizhnitz and was appointed as Rebbe in 1972. Rabbi Hager also served as the President of Moetzet Gedolei HaTorah (The Council of great Torah Sages), the decision-making body of Agudath Yisrael, which, as a Chareidi political entity,
Paying tribute to the leader of the second largest Chasidic community in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday expressed his sorrow and extended his condolences to the Hager family and to Vizhnitzer chasidim in Israel and around the world.
“We have lost a dear man, an exemplar, a great leader, one who led one of the largest and most important communities in the Jewish world – Vishnitz chasidim. He has thousands of students who will carry on his legacy for generations to come. Having devotedly led thousands of people, his passing is a major loss for ultra-orthodox Judaism and for the entire Jewish People,” Netanyahu said.
Quoted in the Jerusalem Post, Former Chief Rabbi of Israel and current Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau Shlita pointed to the Rebbe’s love for his fellow Jew and his dedication to Torah study.
“The Rebbe will be remembered as the one who lifted up the Vizhnitz dynasty from the ashes of the Holocaust and rebuilt it here in the Land of Israel,” said Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin. “The Admor engraved on his flag shows the overriding importance of education, education, education. Education above everything else.
Israel’s largest Orthodox forum and news source, Behadrei Hareidim reported that his two sons will likely both succeed their father as Vizhnitzer Rebbes.
Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Hager zt”l is survived by his two sons, Reb Yisrael and Reb Menachem Mendel; 4 daughters and son in laws – The Vizhnitzer Rosh Yeshiva, Reb Menachem Erenster, the Skverer Rebbe, the Belzer Rebbe in Jerusalem and the Satmar Rebbe in Kiryas Yoel; his Brother, the Viznitz-Monsey Rebbe in Spring valley, N.Y.; tens of grandchildren and great-grandchildren; and thousands of followers.