שבת ט' בכסלו תשפ"ג 03/12/2022
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  • The Mission Continues

    As in the past so it remains today - we were and still are under the selfsame commitment to adhere to the directions of the Gedolei Yisrael, who stand guard against breaches of purity threatening our camp. When we were required to ask – we asked. When we were instructed to depart – we left. The moment we are summoned back to raise the flag, every other consideration is pushed to the side and we answer: We are ready!

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בראי היום

  • Harav Yisrael Friedman zy”a, the Rebbe of Husyatin

    מוטי, ויקיפדיה העברית

    The ancestral chain of Harav Yisrael Friedman, the founder of the Husyatin chassidic court, originates with the holy Baal Shem Tov. The Husyatin chassidus has its roots in Galicia and eventually came to Tel Aviv, during the turbulent years between the two World Wars.

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  • Maccabi'im Gravesite

    In honour of Chanukah, we will discuss a fascinating, ongoing investigation attempting to establish the place of burial of Mattisyahu Kohen Gadol and his family.

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Reflections

The ‘Damesek Eliezer’ of Vizhnitz

The Damesek Eliezer was known as the father and lover of Israel, leader and powerful orator. He worked tirelessly for the cause of Torah and the glory of Judaism and Chassidus.

M. Shorrick 22/08/2009 21:34
The Admor Rav Eliezer Hager of Vizhnitz zt’l, the ‘Damesek Eliezer’, was born in the year 5651 (1891) to his father Rebbe Yisrael of Vizhnitz, the Ahavas Yisrael - or as many called him, the ‘Sabba Kadisha’.

In his youth he studied diligently together with his brother Reb Chaim Meir the ‘Imrei Chaim’, and the two holy brothers made night into day in their quest to understand the secrets of Torah. He was given Semicha (Rabbinical ordination) by two of the greatest leaders of the time - the Maharsham of Brezan, and HaGaon Harav Shlomo Engel. In the year 5667 (1907), he married Rebbetzen Chava, daughter of the Kupishnitzer Rebbe Reb Yitzchok Meir.

With the outbreak of World War I he escaped with his father-in-law to Vienna, Austria, where he became close to the Gedolei Hador Rabbi Meir Arik, Rabbi Yosef Engel and the Gaon Rabbi Shteinberg of Brodie (author of the Machazeh Avraham), and drank thirstily from their Torah. At the same time he expended great effort in assisting the refugees in Vienna.

In the year 5682 (1922) he was appointed Rav of Viznitz, and a year later he re-opened the doors of the famed Vizhnitz Yeshiva that was destroyed in the First World War. Under his leadership the Yeshiva grew and thrived, until it became a beacon of Torah and Chassidus for the Jews of the entire region.

The Damesek Eliezer had an ambitious goal: to raise a new generation of Torah Jews who would combine Torah study with Chassidus, and proudly raise the torch of Torah and spread the teachings of Chassidus throughout the region. To that end he made sure to accept students from other towns besides Vizhnitz, such as Ruzhiner Chassidim from nearby Bokovin. In this way he could achieve his most fervent desire – to save the youth of the generation from spiritual ruin. The Damesek Eliezer was unique amongst his contemporaries in his concern for the spiritual welfare of the youth; many others had long given up hope of improving the situation. He gave of his heart and soul to the Yeshiva. One innovative idea was the establishment of a dormitory for the students - it was spacious and well-kept, which infused the general public with a greater respect for students of Torah.

With time he began to see the fruits of his labor. The light of Torah shone once again, and the students of Vizhnitz themselves spread the Torah that they had learned wherever they went. They brought winds of renewal in aspects of Chinuch, Torah study and Chassidic behavior, as it had been in years gone by. The Damesek Eliezer indirectly influenced the establishment of many more Yeshivos around Europe, as many Rabbanim recognized the need and took advice and direction from.
His numerous students tell of the endless devotion and warmth they received under his loving care. A father once came to bring his son to learn in the Yeshiva, and told the Rebbe: My son is an only child, and my wife was opposed to his leaving home to learn far away - please keep a close watch on him”. To which the Rosh Yeshiva replied: “I have one hundred-twenty ‘only sons’; if a father relies on me and sends his son to learn here, then that immediately makes his son my ‘only child’!”

The Rosh Yeshiva indeed kept a scrupulous eye out for the physical and spiritual welfare of his students. On occasion he would go up to the women’s gallery at six in the morning, to look down into the study hall and see if the boys had arrived for the pre-Shacharis learning session. Towards noon he was often seen making his way towards the kitchen, where he would taste the food to make sure it was tasty enough for his ‘sons’. Afterwards he would enter the dining hall to check that the students were dining in an orderly and befitting manner.

Of incredible note is the time the Rebbe entered the Beis Medrash at Mincha, and as he looked around he asked someone, “where is the student so-and-so, I see he is not here…” Out of one hundred-twenty students, he noticed the one that was absent – and not only that, but this particular student was short in stature and not easily noticeable at the best of times!
 He was known in his days as the undisputed father and Rebbe of European Jewry, and his words were accepted by all levels of the community. He was admired and revered by all, and eventually became the leader of the Agudas Yisrael in Bokovnia.
Over the years his influence grew, and with the passing of his saintly father in 5696 (1936) he was crowned as the Admor of Vizhnitz in his stead.

The Russians invaded Vizhnitz in 5700 (1940), whereupon the Rebbe escaped to Tomashov in Romania. There too he conquered the hearts of the community and many of the townspeople became his devoted followers. Four years later, in the month of Nissan 5704 (1944), he made his way to Eretz Israel where he settled in Tel Aviv and re-established the Yeshiva. He appointed his nephew, the current Vizhnitzer Rebbe, to serve as Rosh Yeshiva.

On the 2nd of Elul 5706 (1946), the Damesek Eliezer returned his lofty soul to his Creator after a prolonged and difficult illness. He was accompanied on his final journey by many illustrious personalities, including the Imrei Emes of Gur. He lies buried on the slopes of Har Hazeisim in Jerusalem, where his Kever is a focal point for all Chassidim who come to beg him to intercede for them on high.