The Vishnitzer Rebbe ZT”L of Bnei Brak was born on the 13th of Nissan 5676. His father zt”l was the Admor Rav Chaim Meir known as the ‘Imrei Chaim’ who rebuilt the Vishnitz dynasty after the churban of World War II.
The rebbe’s abilities became evident to his father and others when he was a child. He regularly opted to remain awake at night to study Torah, unlike the other children. Upon his arrival in Eretz Yisrael he was appointed by his uncle the Damesek Eliezer to head the Yeshivas Vishnitz in Tel Aviv where the rebbe was instrumental in building the Torah institution as well as the building of Kiryas Vishnitz in Bnei Brak.
In those days people reported that the early risers on Sunday mornings in Bnei Brak would see the rebbe heading home, still adorned in his Bigdei Shabbos after spending the night engulfed in limud at the Ponevezh Yeshiva. After the petira of his father the rebbe assumed the mantle of leadership, in 5732. Since that time, tens of thousands have sought his brochos, advice and warmth. He was a source of strength, encouragement and guidance for many of Klal Yisrael in addition to his chassidim. The rebbe became the head of the Moetzas Gedolei HaTorah of Agudas Yisrael.
Known for his gadlus in both the nigla and the nistar, the Rebbe’s tefilos were special. Seeing him davening, engulfed in the act of communicating with and beseeching HaKadosh Baruch Hu was a sight that many visited Vishnitz to experience. Shabbos with the Rebbe was an elevating reality for the Rebbe’s special love for Shabbos and Yomim Tovim was truly unique.
Those close to the rebbe also stress how he held time in high regard, always concerned with each moment, never chas v’sholom wasting any time. The rebbe was very active in kiruv, always placing the mission of returning lost neshamas to the fold as a primary objective for him and his chassidim.
Despite of the fact that the rebbe returned to Tel Aviv, he never compromised shmiras einayim and despite being physically present in the city, he distanced himself from the unwanted secularism that at times dominates the city. When his gabbaim would escort him the rebbe’s eyes were frequently closed, not wishing to see many of the painful realities that have become modern day Israel.
There are an estimated 5,000 families of Vishnitz Chassidim in Eretz Yisrael.
The levaya of the rebbe ZATZAL will begin at 1:00pm at the Vishnitz Beis Medrash in Bnei Brak. The kvura will take place in the Bnei Brak Cemetery in the Ohel Admorei Vishnitz. The Rebbe’s will states specifically that his kvura is to be completed by shekiyah.
The chassidus has activated a special information number – 1599.574.849.
The Rebbe is survived by his brother, the Vishnitzer Rebbe of Monsey and his sons Rav Yisroel, Rav Mendel, and daughters who are married to Rav Menachem Ernster (Rosh Yeshiva of the Vishnitzer Yeshiva in Bnei Brak), the Satmar Rebbe (Kiryas Yoel), the Belzer Rebbe, and the Rebitzen of the Skverer Rebbe (New Square).
12: 34 IL: Due to logistics surrounding the arrival of family members from the United States, the levaya has been pushed back to 14:00. Hundreds of police, EMS personnel and volunteers from various EMS and chessed organizations are already taking up position ahead of the levaya. Police predict over 150,000 people will take part in the levaya.
As police continue preparations for the levaya, area streets are closing down. Route 4 (Kvish Geha) will be closed along with many streets inside Bnei Brak, including Chazon Ish all the way to Ramat Gan.
Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau Shlita adds that the rebbe was known for his incredible ahavas yisrael, and in addition, he was never seen without a sefer, never letting a precious moment pass without limud Torah.
12:47 IL: The Satmar and Skverer Rebbes Shlita are scheduled to land in Tel Aviv at 3:00pm. The start of the levaya has been moved to 14:30
Jerusalem: 70 buses are leaving for the levaya. A special moked began operating at 10:00am with information.
Ashdod: The 350 bus will be traveling from Vishnitz.
Haifa: The Gur , Belze and Seret Vishnitz communities will be taking part. Buses will be leaving from Vishnitz and elsewhere.
Elad: Buses will be at Vishnitz (Givat Shmuel).
Beit Shemesh: From Nar HaYarden Street near Vishnitz. There will be at least 10 buses
Modi’in Illit: Superbus is working with Egged to coordinate. Over 40 buses will be on hand.
The transportation information was provided by Egged’s advisor to the chareidi tzibur, R’ Yitzchok Rudich, a Vishnitzer chossid, who exhibited significant difficulty speaking about his beloved Rebbe in the past tense.
There will be 400 buses available nationwide to transport people to and from the levaya.
The Belzer Rebbe Shlita, Boyaner Rebbe Shlita and Gerrer Rebbe Shlita have instructed their respective communities to take part in the levaya.
May the rebbe be a meilitz yosher for Klal Yisrael.
12:58 IL: HaGaon HaRav Gershon Edelstein Shlita has instructed his talmidim to close gemaras at 13:00 and go out to take part in the levaya.
The Skverer and Satmar Rebbes Shlita will be arriving on flight DL 246, set to touch down at 13:45. R’ Meir Porush has been coordinating with Israel Police to expedite the travel of the rebbes from the airport to the levaya. R’ Porush will be on hand to meet the rebbes and take them to Bnei Brak for the levaya, which should already be in progress.
As reported earlier, the rebbe has left instructions to complete his levaya, including the nichum aveilim before shekiyah, which will be at 17:57.
13:05 IL: As per the instructions of the rebbe zt”l, no women will be taking part in the levaya once it departs from the Vishnitz Beis Medrash.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin opened today’s session with words on the petira of the Rebbe, explaining to MKs the rebbe’s emphasis on chinuch, referring to “The Tzaddik who has left this world”.
The rebbe’s sons have entered the tahara area and from there the niftar will be brought to his home, 13 Ahavat Shalom Street where family members will have their last yechidus with the rebbe zt”l.
Yeshivos around the country are closing to permit talmidim and avreichim to attend the levaya.
Yitzchak Nachshoni, a cousin, told Kol Chai Radio that he merited visiting the rebbe last week, one of his last visitors. “I could not imagine that this was one of the last meetings the rebbe would have”, continuing to explain the gadlus of the man, and how he struggled to continue his life despite yissurim and having to overcome significant physical pain.
Police are closing Rabbi Akiva Street to Negba Street in Ramat Gan. The Gesher Shmuel Bridge will be closed as will Negba Street. People traveling in private vehicles are urged to park in lots far away and make their way to Kiryas Vishnitz Bnei Brak by public bus.
13:15: Magen David Adom Director Eli Bin reports his officers have been preparing for the levaya since the early morning hours. MDA has raised its operational status in light of the major event that demands special attention. 20 ambulances will be assigned to the levaya along with 2 paramedic advanced life support units. There will be 100s of EMTs and paramedics as well as 2 physicians, a command center and deployment of special equipment to meet the challenge of addressing a situation involving the gathering of over 150,000 people. Bin adds he will be working with Hatzolah Gush Dan.
Ichud Hatzolah and Zaka will also be on hand, lending a significant hand in the way of manpower, equipment and professional expertise.
13:21: Badatz Vishnitz has instructed all chassidim to close their businesses and they should recite “Baruch Dayan Emmes”. Family members and prominent members of the chassidus will carry the niftar, restricted to persons over 40-years-old and only those who toiveled in a mikve today.
Women will not take part in the levaya as reported earlier. They will gather at Kikar Kessler and Imrei Chaim.
The procession has begun making its way to the Vishnitz Beis Medrash, about 7 minutes ago.
13:26: Israel Police Gush Dan Traffic Chief Shachar Paz has urged motorists to distance themselves to avoid the Geha Highway and not to attempt to make it to Bnei Brak by private vehicle. Traffic around Bnei Brak is reported as “very heavy” at this time.
13:32: Only family members and persons with a permit will be permitted to enter the Beis HaChaim, Police Commander Shachar Paz reports. The Belzer Rebbe Shlita will be arriving at the levaya from Yerushalayim.
13:39: 17 years ago today, on the 20th of Adar 1, 5755 was the levaya of HaGaon HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ZATZAL. His levaya in Yerushalayim also brought over 150,000 people. Many are already commenting that at that levaya 20 years ago, as is the case today, there are many people heading to the levaya of all walks of life, not just chareidim but kipot srugot as well – attesting to the uniqueness and greatness of the niftar.
13:52: The Gerrer Rebbe Shlita has arrived at the levaya.
The sons of the rebbe, Rav Menachem Mendel and Rav Yisrael have arrived at the Vishnitz Beis Medrash.
14:03: In keeping in line with minhag Vishnitz, the hakofos around the Aaron have begun in the beis medrash. Another son-in-law of the niftar, the Belzer Rebbe Shlita is on his way to Bnei Brak from Yerushalayim.
Eight vehicles will be taking part in the motorcade from Ben-Gurion International Airport as Israel Police will be escorting the Satmar Rebbe (Kiryas Yoel) Shlita and the Skverer Rebbe Shlita to the levaya. The rebbes are both sons-in-law of the niftar.
There are many words of praise heard for Israel Police and airport officials regarding the arrangements to expedite matters for the rebbes who are trying to make the levaya.
14:07: The Vishnitzer Rebbe of Monsey Shlita, who is not well, has been informed of the petira and has torn kriya and sat shiva 30 minutes before shekiyah. As such, he will get up from shiva a day ahead of the children.
14:15: Thousands are beginning to make their way past the niftar, given a moment to request slicha and mechila from the rebbe zt”l. Due to the time realtiites, having to complete the entire levaya before shekiyah in keeping with the request of the late rebbe, many will not have an opportunity to pass the aaron.
Rav Yisrael Hager, the elder son, has just recited the Baruch Dayan HaEmmes bracha. This was followed by the younger son, Rav Menachem Mendel Hager.
14:17: All chassidim over the age of bar mitzvah have been instructed to tear kriya on the left side, as one does for a parent. Thousands are now tearing kriya at the beis medrash as the tzibur is being asked to leave the beis medrash, explaining it is literally ‘sakonos nefoshos’ due to the overcrowding.
Chassidim are being instructed to pass the niftar and immediately leave the beis medrash, not to linger inside. There are many emergency calls for people collapsing, fainting, perhaps due to the amount of people and/or as a result of the emotions of the event.
14:20: The Seret Vishnitz Rebbe of Haifa Shlita, a cousin of the rebbe zt”l, is on his way to Bnei Brak. The Toldos Avraham Yitzchak Rebbe Shlita is seen at the levaya at this time.
A police chopper is seen overhead monitoring the events below.
Efforts are continuing to compel the tzibur to leave the beis medrash as there are simply too many chassidim inside.
The sons of the rebbe have already recited kaddish.
14:27: Rav Yisrael Hager and his younger brother Rav Menachem Mendel have just left the beis medrash hand-in-hand as the levaya of the Vishnitzer Rebbe ZT”L gets underway.
No official numbers have been released yet by police but it appears that the crowd has exceeded police expectation of 150,000 people. Maariv is reporting “hundreds of thousands” at this time.
All of the Vishnitz chassidim present have torn kriya on the left side.
The Satmar and Skverer Rebbes Shlita will leave Ben-Gurion International Airport expeditiously. They will be the first off the plane and they will be escorted around passport control and directly to the waiting vehicular convoy.
14:35: The Belzer Rebbe Shlita has just torn kriya for his father-in-law.
The Rebbes of Slonim, Sanz, and Nadvorna Shlita are already at the levaya as are roshei yeshiva including HaGaon HaRav Edelstein Shlita and HaGaon HaRav Parvosky Shlita.
14:37: Rav Yisrael Hager has requested to begin the levaya and not wait for his brothers-in-law arriving at the airport for two reasons; (1) to complete the levaya by shekiyah in compliance with the rebbe’s zt”l directive and (2) to finish the levaya before shekiyah to enable him to put on tefillin today. HaGaon HaRav Usher Weiss Shlita has arrived at the levaya.
Police estimate the crowd in Bnei Brak is “over 100,000”.
The plane carrying the Satmar Rebbe Shlita and the Skverer Rebbe Shlita has touched down in Ben-Gurion International Airport. Yisrael Wertheimer reports the rebbes should be off the plane in the coming minutes and the motorcade will begin the drive to Bnei Brak with a police escort. Once again, eight cars will be traveling in the motorcade from the airport.
14:44: 150 chassidim will be arriving in Ben-Gurion International Airport on two other flights, one at 15:00 and the second at 15:30. An undisclosed number of chassidim have also arrived on the flight carrying the rebbe’s sons-in-law, the Satmar and Skverer Rebbes Shlita.
Kobi Bachar, the Israel Police commander at Ben-Gurion is personally overseeing arrangements to ensure the expeditious handling of the rebbe’s after disembarking from the Delta flight.
Police and news choppers are seen hovering overhead in Bnei Brak.
Many admorim and roshei yeshiva shlita are waiting on Ezra Street, unable to make their way to the beis medrash. The levaya is underway.
14:50: Interior Ministry officials have boarded the Delta flight and are expediting passport matters for the rebbes arriving for the levaya. The rebbes will be escorted via a VIP route to enable the motorcade to leave for the beis hachaim as quickly as possible. They will not be heading for the Vishnitz Beis Medrash but directly to the beis hachaim.
Rav Shmuel Markowitz, Rav Tzvi Bergman and many other roshei yeshiva can be seen at the levaya.
Av Beis Din Bnei Brak HaGaon HaRav Yehuda Leib Landau Shlita has called for a cessation of all work in the city during the levaya. The same holds true for mosdos Vishnitz and Belz around Eretz Yisrael.
HaRosh Yeshiva HaGaon HaRav Aaron Yehuda Leib Shteinman Shlita has a motorcycle escort as he takes part in the levaya.
15:05: Israel Police announces people should not attempt to make their way to the Beis Hachaim for it is closed. Only family members of the rebbe zt”l and VIPs with permits will be permitted to enter. The same is the case with those still trying to make their way to the Vishnitz Beis Medrash. The procession is now making its way to the beis hachaim. It is estimated the procession will get there in about 15-20 minutes.
In Ben-Gurion International Airport, the Skverer and Satmar Rebbes are getting into vehicles as they prepare to make their way to the beis hachaim for the kvura of their father-in-law, the late Vishnitzer Rebbe ZATZAL.
Bnei Brak mourns the loss of this tzaddik as the av beis din, HaGaon HaRav Landau Shlita has ordered businesses in the city closed during the levaya.
15:15: Vishnitz chossid and director of Hatzolah in Bnei Brak Effie Feldman reports they have already handled over 30 calls. “Unfortunately, people are climbing on walls and unsafe places, which have resulted in injuries. We have also had to remove people from electric poles and other dangerous areas”.
All Admorim and Roshei Yeshiva Shlita in Eretz Yisrael are present to give kovod to the niftar, the Vishnitzer Rebbe ZATZAL. There are simply too many names to mention. Police have already estimated the crowd in the area of Kiryas Vishnitz surpassed the 100,000 mark. There are literally hundreds of police, EMS, volunteers, chessed organizations and agencies taking part in the levaya to maintain order and protect participants, and of course to lend assistance when required.
The levaya is just about at the beis hachaim. It is now being reported that the motorcade I just leaving Ben-Gurion International Airport. It appears there was a problem regarding some of the gabbaim, whose names did not appear on the list for Interior Ministry officials to permit them to enter the country.
15:23: The levaya appears to have reached the intersection of Chazon Ish and Ezra Streets. Once again, only family and those with permits, a very small number of people, will be permitted to enter and take part in the kvura. There are however people inside, those who arrived before police closed the beis hachaim down.
Zaka will later this afternoon use ambulances to transport family members to two chasnahs in Bnei Brak, using their emergency status in coordination with police to get the chassanim and kallos to the wedding halls to prepare for their simchas. Arrangements were made to hopefully get the families through the crowd of the levaya towards ensuring the weddings take place as planned.
From a traffic point of view, police are doing their utmost to keep the Geha Highway moving as to prevent a total vehicular shutdown of the Greater Gush Dan area during the evening rush hour.
Once again, there has been nothing but words of praise for Israel Police commanders and their willingness to do whatever they can to comply with the wishes of the Vishnitz community on this most difficult day.
15:32: The rebbe’s sons, Rav Yisrael and Menachem Mendel Hager are already in the beis hachaim.
The Satmar Rebbe of Kiryas Yoel Shlita and the Skverer Rebbe Shlita have arrived at the beis hachaim. No less than 25 police vehicles took part in the escort for the motorcade to enable the sons-in-law of the late rebbe zt”l to take part in the levaya. The rebbes shlita arrived a short time ago in Ben-Gurion International Airport on a Delta Airlines flight along with their entourages to take part in the levaya.
Police are having a difficult time getting the rebbes through the crowd but they are doing an exemplary job.
The emotion among participants in the levaya following the arrival of the admorim from the USA is evident as they make their way inside to join other family members.
Icud Hatzalah officials report 32 people have been treated, most with light soft tissue injuries from the overwhelming crowd and associated pushing and falls.
There are literally thousands standing on fences, walls and simply anything that may provide them with a height advantage, a better view, trying to take part in the levaya of the tzaddik, the Vishnitzer Rebbe ZT”L.
15:37: It appears that the Ohel Admorei Vishnitz in the beis hachaim is a sterile area. While many have managed to enter the beis hachaim to the chagrin of police, the actual area of the kvura is shut down and police and Vishnitz ushers are not permitting anyone near the Ohel other than those authorized to take part in the kvura.
Police Commander Shachar Paz now states there are 50,000 attending the levaya, no more. He does not know who released the 100,000 number earlier but states with confidence the number of people present does not exceed 50,000. He believes it will take at least an additional three hours until area traffic patterns return to their norm.
15:45: Update from MDA: The news of the petira of the rebbe was received during the night and preparations for the levaya began immediately, realizing the magnitude of the loss and the event that would follow. There are 20 ambulances, 25 scooters and 2 paramedic advanced life support units. 100s of EMTs and paramedics as well as 2 physicians are treating on the scene and from the commander center; they can monitor events outside since cameras mounted on 25 meter high poles are proving a live stream picture of events outside.
The Skverer Rebbe Shlita and Satmar Rebbe Shlita have entered the beis hachaim and making their way to the Ohel Vishnitz. This is being viewed from the MDA command post via their ‘cameras in the sky’. Once inside, these cameras will not provide a look since the Ohel is a closed structure.
16:00: Despite the difficulty of the hour one cannot help but notice the achdus — viewing the Admorim Shlita standing at one another’s side, family members and prominent rabbonim shlita, all giving kovod to the late Vishnitzer Rebbe ZATZAL, a powerful event that has brought many leaders of Am Yisrael together, a gathering of talmidei chachamim in the Torah City. Some have commented on how auspicious it was that the Belzer Rebbe Shlita and Satmar Rebbe Shlita put their differences aside and took the step towards shalom, in their own family and the larger family known as Am Yisrael.
A heavy cloud hovers over Eretz HaKodesh as the niftar has been brought into the Vishnitz Ohel with the realization this unique holy individual has left this world, now on his journey to the Olam HaEmmes, leaving Am Yisrael without his zchusim, his koach, and all that the tzaddikim do for the generation.
There is an emergency call heard over the loudspeakers to bring water inside the Ohel, adding “It is pikuach nefesh”.
16:13: The 13 Midos HaRachamim has just been recited. The levaya of the head of the Moetzas Gedolei HaTorah ZATZAL is winding down to the final stage.
The Vishnitzer Rebbe ZT”L will be interred along with the previous admorim of Beis Vishnitz, including the Imrei Chaim ZY”A, Ahavas Yisrael ZY”A, Makor Baruch of Seret Vishnitz ZY”A, and the Damesek Eliezer ZY”A.
In compliance with the rebbe’s instructions, the levaya is being completed before shekiyah.
Today, 17 years to the day of the petira of Posek HaDor HaGaon HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ZY”A, Am Yisrael must part with another tzaddik.
Yesomim Anachnu – We are orphaned and cry over the great loss that is yet to be realized as another link to that Holy Generation of Europe has moved to the Yeshiva Shel Ma’ala.
16:15: It appears another person has fainted in the Ohel area. EMTs are responding but the levaya is delayed once again. There are simply too many people in and around the Ohel and efforts are underway to accommodate the space realities of the confined structure.
Dan Region Police Chief Albert Ochaiyon received praise from many, including Bnei Brak Mayor Yaakov Asher. Ochaiyon told Kol Chai Radio that the credit goes to the mayor, Bnei Brak City Hall, MDA and other EMS and volunteer organizations.
The commander explained that buses that brought people from around the country are waiting in area parking lots. When asked to estimate how many people participated in the levaya, he feels there are 80,000-100,000.
The senior commander concluded saying that he merited meeting with the Rebbe ZT”L in person and attend Vishnitz simchas. He feels the pain of Beis Vishnitz and Am Yisrael.
16:26: Tziduk HaDin was recited, followed by kaddish, Michtam L’Dovid and kaddish at the Ohel.
The chevra kadisha have asked mechila from the niftar on behalf of the chevra, the family, Chassidei Vishnitz and Am Yisrael.
The aveilim have walked though the two rows beginning their shiva.
The levaya of the Vishnitzer Rebbe of Bnei Brak Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Hager ZATZAL has ended.
יהי זכרו ברוך
This ends YWN-ISRAEL’s coverage of the levaya.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)