As a refugee from the ravages of war-torn Europe, the
Imrei Chaim came to Eretz Yisroel and settled
like other gedolim in Tel Aviv, which was, at the
time, the center of Torah and Chassidus.
However, as time went by, he decided that this was no
place to educate the next generation. He perceived the
necessity to establish a yishuv akin to those
prior to the war, to the shtetl of old that was
separate from its surroundings. Only in this way would
the future doros be saved from being swept up in
the confusion of modern Israeli life.
His thoughts were immediately put into action as the
Imrei Chaim set about buying land in Bnei Brak. Many
tried to persuade him that such a plan would never
succeed. Yet the Rebbe persisted, encouraged greatly by
the Ponevezher Rov, and finally signed a contract for
the establishment of Shikun Vishnitz. The Chazon Ish
later referred to this shikun as "the
mezuzah of Bnei Brak."
Once the initial hardships had been overcome and
success began to shine on the project, many other
rabbonim wanted to follow suit.
A certain admor came to the Imrei Chaim with a
request for permission to settle with his
chassidim in Bnei Brak. He explained that he did
not intend to be "masig gvul" or intrude on his
territory, but simply would like to bring up his family
in such a town.
The askonim who were dealing with the setting up
of the Vishnitz shikun were not too enthusiastic
about this newcomer, and expressed their misgivings to
With his charismatic smile, the Rebbe replied, "In all
the world's great business centers, there are whole
streets of shops that deal with the same merchandise.
London has Hatton Gardens for jewelry and Harley Street
for doctors, whereas in New York there is 47th Street
for diamonds. The idea behind this concentration of one
product or trade is simple. Anyone looking for this
particular product can find all the dealers in one
area, thereby benefiting both the buyers and the
"The nimshol is straightforward. Our reason for
building the shikun is to educate our children in
the Torah's ways and to increase kvod Shomayim.
Thus we welcome any rabbonim and admorim who have
yiras Shomayim to `sell' as our neighbors.
Whoever's heart desires Torah and yir'oh should
settle in the same area, and we will all only profit
from the deal."
Thus the Imrei Chaim was a flaming fire of holiness for
Hashem and His Torah.
He was particularly fiery in his preparation all
through the year for the yomim tovim.
Throughout the winter he would exhort his
chassidim to prepare themselves for the holy
Chag HaPesach and likewise, all through the
summer he would remind them to awaken and ready
themselves to be able to say Malchuyos, Zichronos
and Shofros on Rosh Hashonoh.
The first time that the yeshiva printed pocket
calendars to send to friends and supporters, the son-in-
law of the Rebbe, Reb Yidele Horowitz zt"l of
Dzikov, was puzzled. "Who in Vishnitz needs a calendar?
All winter we've been learning that Pesach is coming
closer, and all summer we'll be constantly reminded
that Rosh Hashonoh is on its way!"
Once, when an important matter was being dealt with, a
few askonim disagreed with the Rebbe and even
insulted him. The incident took place in the month of
Tammuz. After a few days, each of the men felt that the
Hand of Hashem was punishing him, each in his own
affairs. After discussing the situation together, they
decided to travel to the Imrei Chaim and request his
They found out that the Rebbe was at Har Canaan in
Tzfas, so they followed him there to beg forgiveness.
As they entered his room and started to apologize, the
Rebbe looked up and replied in a pleasant manner,
"We've already turned that page. We're now busy
preparing for Rosh Hashonoh and have long forgiven and
A grandchild was accompanying the Rebbe on an evening
walk in the middle of winter. It was the fifteenth of
the month and a full moon shone out of the clear sky as
the Rebbe stepped out of the house. Joyfully and full
of warm anticipation, the Rebbe exclaimed, "Ah! With
such a moon in another few month's time we'll arrive at
the seder night, be'ezras Hashem."
His feelings for the festivals were also often
expressed in his divrei Torah. Once on a
motzei Rosh Hashonoh he expounded on a
posuk in Tehillim, "Yom tzo'akti
balailoh negdechoh." Standing, as we are now, after
the Yom Tzoakti — the day of crying and
davening to Hashem at such exalted heights —
with what can we comfort ourselves throughout the long
winter nights? With the "lailoh negdechoh — the
fact that at the end of the winter we'll have a holy
On the words of the piyut that we say on Succos,
among other praises of Am Yisroel, "Yosheves
umamtenes ad kelos haShabbos," he explained: From
the simple translation we infer that Bnei Yisroel sit
and refrain from doing melochoh, waiting until
Shabbos is over.
Then the Rebbe asked, "Is it possible to say that Bnei
Yisroel wait for the Shabbos to finish — a day that is
mei'ein Olom Haboh? Who waits to be finished with
it? The piyut must mean," he concluded, "that we
are referring to a Shabbos erev Pesach, when
Klal Yisroel wait and anticipate the end of
Shabbos so that they can start the holy Seder
When the Rebbe was already advanced in years and travel
was very difficult for him, he once insisted that he be
taken to Meron to the kever of R' Shimon Bar
Yochai. Thinking that he must have an ill relative for
whom he wanted to daven urgently, the attendants
of the Rebbe acquiesced and they made the arduous
journey. Once there, the Rebbe davened fervently
and with tears, begging that he be zocheh to a
small measure of "daas" in the mitzvoh of