Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

9 Shvat 5772 - February 2, 2012 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










Produced and housed by











The Imrei Chaim — Ha'admor Reb Chaim Meir Hager zt"l of Vishnitz

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 the Rebbe.

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 sellers.

"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 forgiveness.

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 forgotten!"


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 leil haSeder.

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 night."


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 achilas matzoh.


All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.