The Vizhnitzer rebbe, Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Hager, passed away in Bnei Brak late Tuesday night at the age of 95.
According to reports, the rebbe’s health deteriorated in recent months. Last week 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.
The funeral is scheduled to begin at 1 pm Wednesday from the Vihsnitz Torah study hall in Bnei Brak. Tens of thousands of people are expected to attend, including those from the Lithuanian, Belz and Sephardi communities, as well as national religious Zionists.
Rabbi Hager at great-grandson's wedding (Archive photo: Itzhak Lev-Ari)
Hager led the second largest hassidic sect in Israel (after the Gur sect) for some 40 years and also served as the president of The Council of Great Torah Sages, the decision-making body of Agudath Yisrael.
The ultra-Orthodox website Behadrei Haredim reported that his two sons will likely both become the Vizhnitzer rebbes and will succeed their father.
Haredi media personality Yisrael Cohen told Ynet, "We have lost a father. He influenced every detail in our lives."
About two years ago the Vizhnitzer hassidim held an event to mark 70 years of Rabbi Hager's activity in Israel. "Some rabbis excel in leadership, and others in their fear of god, but our leader excels in Torah studies," one of his followers said at the time.
Rabbi Hager, born in 1916, was the son of Rebbe Chaim Meir Hagar of Vizhnitz – the founder and leader of the hassidic sect in Israel in the post-Holocaust era.