The Vizhnitzer Rebbe, Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Hager, passed away in Bnei Brak late Tuesday night. He was 95.
The funeral will begin at 1 p.m. Wednesday from the Vizhnitz Beit Midrash Torah study hall in Bnei Brak, and the Council of Torah Sages has ordered all businesses of chassidim to close during the funeral. Israeli police in cooperation with the municipality of Bnei Brak and Magen David Adom will close parts of the city during the funeral procession.
Motorists have been told to remove all parked vehicles from the area of the funeral procession. All chassidic sects will arrive for the funeral, including the Belz yeshiva from Jerusalem. Tens of thousands of people are expected, including those from the Lithuanian and Sephardi communities, as well as national religious Zionists.
Rabbi Hager served as the President of Moetzet Gedolei HaTorah (The Council of great Torah Sages), the decision-making body of Agudath Yisrael, which, as a hareidi political entity, turns to the Council for its views on subjects relating to halakhah and other matters. As such, his opinion was extemely influential and more often than not, the decisive one, in Agudath Yisrael policy. Vizhnitz is represented by Rabbi Shmuel Halpert in the Knesset.
According to a report on the hareidi website Behadrei Hareidim, the Rebbe’s health deteriorated in recent months. Last week, the report said, his temperature rose and he suffered from an infection of the leg which spread to the rest of his body, also causing his kidneys to fail.
Rabbi Hager became the fifth Rebbe of the well-known, large, - and growing - hassidic sect that originated in Hungary. He assumed the role after his father, Rabbi Chaim Meir Hager, passed away in 1972. His brother, Rabbi Mordechai Hager, is the Rebbe of Vizhnitz-Monsey, New York, the second of the three branches of Vizhnitz. The third branch, called Sered Vizhnitz, is located in Haifa.
Vizhnitz has a large number of educational institutions, from day care to girls' seminaries to yeshivas and synagogues all over the world. It is known for its emphasis on the traditional hassidic Friday night tish (festive meeting) to which all the hassidim come to gain spiritual uplift and strenghthen social togetherness, singing the famous Vizhnitzer niggunim [tunes].
The world renowned righteous Torah Sage passed away while reciting Shema Yisrael, part of the viduy [the Jewish deathbed confessional prayer]. He leaves behind two sons, four daughters and hundreds of grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. The daughters are the Belzer Rebbetzin, the Skverer Rebbetzin of New Square, NY, the Satmar Rebbetzin of Kiryas Yoel in Monroe, NY, and Rebbetzin Ernster, wife of the Rosh Yeshiva of Vizhnitz.
Behadrei Hareidim reported that his two sons will likely both become the Vizhnitzer Rebbes and will succeed their father.