One of the Haredi community's most veteran leaders passed away overnight Tuesday in Bnei Brak. Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Hager, the head of the Vizhnitz Hasidic dynasty and president of Agudath Israel's Council of Torah Sages, died aged 95. His funeral will be held on Wednesday afternoon, and is expected to draw mass crowds.
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With the rabbi's passing, a day of mourning was declared for tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel and abroad.
Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Hager was the fifth Admor of Vizhnitz, the Hasidic community that started in Romania and was revived in Israel following the state's establishment. The rabbi was appointed Admor in 1972. During his time as a religious leader he expanded and strengthened Hasidic Judaism. Today there are some 5,000 Vizhnitz Hasidic families, and it is the second largest Hasidic community in Israel.
Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Hager suffered from Alzheimer's Disease and other illnesses, but despite that, he attended public events and allowed Hasidic Jews to enter his room for blessings, even in his final years. But he barely communicated. In his final weeks, he suffered from an infection in his leg and from other medical problems.
The rabbi will be buried in Bnei Brak, beside the grave of his father.
The passing of Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Hager is a sign that the Vizhnitz separation should be completed. The split, between the two largest Hasidic courts in the world, began during Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Hager's father's time, with a fight over inheritance between his sons Rabbi Yisrael Hager and Rabbi Menachem Mendel Hager.