Ha-Admor of Viznitz: Ha-Admor of All of Us

[Talk in Yeshiva during lunch]

A great Rabbi of the Nation of Israel has been taken from us: Ha-Admor of Viznitz, Ha-Gaon Ha-Rav Moshe Yehoshua Hagar. He is not just the Chasidic Rebbe of Viznitz, he is the Admor of all of us. Why? Because 99% of what he displayed self-sacrifice for during his lifetime is not particular to Viznitz, or even to Chasidut, but is Klal Yisraeli. There is no difference today between a Viznitz Chasid and another G-d-fearing Jew.
It is true that his Seudat Sheshilit was an experience full of passion, but passion is not something created by the Baal Shem Tov. Passion needs to be the possession of the entire Nation of Israel. Rabbi Yehudah Ha-Levi already wrote in the Kuzari (2:50) that one should not think that his joy and dancing and singing on Shabbat and Yom Tov is less important than fasting. And the Rambam, at the end of Hilchot Sukkah Ve-Lulav (8:15) says that joy in the service of Hashem is in and of itself service of Hashem. The Baal Shem Tov did not invent something new – rather, he reminded us of something that was forgotten. How much passion one should display has been disputed, but the passion of Ha-Admor of Viznitz was certainly proper for the entire Nation of Israel.
Besides being full of passion, Ha-Admor of Viznitz was also great in Torah learning. A great scholar, a great Matmid (one who learns Torah consistently and constantly). He was particularly expert in the book Ketzot Ha-Choshen. Though not everyone has the ability to learn that sefer, everyone must learn Torah. Ha-Admor’s example is for all of us.
Ha-Admor also established many educational institutions: institutions for children and adolescents, Yeshivot, women's seminaries, and Kollels. Everyone must learn, teach and spread Torah. This too applies to all of us.
Ha-Admor of Viznitz was also very careful in "Shemirat Einayim" (Guarding himself from looking at forbidden images). He established the Mehadrin buses (in which men and women sit separately). One should pay attention, by the way, to the word "Mehadrin": we are not obligated to observe such a stricture, but it is praiseworthy to do so. When a bus is relatively empty, there is no problem, but when it is packed with people, there is no place to look without seeing improper things. "Shemirat Einayim" is not a stricture, but a basic law. According to the Rambam, it is a Rabbinic obligation, and according to Rabbenu Yonah, it is a Torah obligation (see Beit Shmuel on Even Ha-Ezer, chapter 21). But according to all opinions, one must guard his eyes. And all of this has nothing to do with the Chasidut of Viznitz - it is Klal Yisraeli. Ha-Admor was personally very strict in this matter, and he is a worthy model for all of us.
Ha-Admor of Viznitz is also connected to all streams of Chasidic Jews. In addition to his son, Ha-Rav Yisrael Hagar, who is his successor as Chasidic Rebbe, and another son who is the Rosh Yeshiva in the Viznitz Yeshiva, he has one daughter who is the Rebbetzin of the Belzer Rebbe, a second daughter who is the Rebbetzin of the Skverer Rebbe and a third daughter who is the Rebbetzin of the Satmar Rebbe.
It is true that the custom in Viznitz is to wear white socks on Shabbat and to have the buttonhole on the right side of the hat. But one must not think that Viznitz Chasidut is a Chasidut of white socks and right-side buttonholes. This would be ridiculous. Chasidut Viznitz is about increasing passion, increasing Torah learning, increasing education and increasing modesty. And all of these things are Klal Yisraeli.
Ha-Admor of Viznitz is therefore the Admor of All of Us, and we must learn from his example.
May the soul of Ha-Admor ztz"l continue to be bound up in the bonds of the living with all of the righteous.