Klal Yisrael and, in particular, the community of Vizhnitz, was deeply shocked and pained to hear of the petirah of Harav Pinchos Sholom Hager, zt”l, the Rav of the Vizhnitzer kehillah of Boro Park. He was the eldest son of, ybl”c, the Vizhnitzer Rebbe, shlita. The Rav was 66 years old.
The niftar was renowned for his impeccable middos, great humility, simplicity and a life of total dedication to avodas Hashem. He had been in critical condition following complications from surgery he underwent about a month ago, but was believed to have been recovering. His sudden passing leaves a great gap in the community, and is an especially tragic event for his father, the elder Rebbe of the generation.
At the last “botte” — Friday night gathering — that he was able to lead in his beis medrash, he commented on the verse describing Aharon Hakohen’s service on Yom Kippur in the Beis Hamikdash, and derived a lesson that a Yid should strive to leave the world at the same level of taharah with which he entered it. It was a fitting last message from the niftar, who all described as the picture of temimus.
The Rav was born in Elul of 5709/1949 and spent his early years in the shadow of his illustrious maternal grandfather, Harav Yakov Yosef Twersky, zy”a, the Skverer Rebbe. As the oldest of the Rebbe’s grandsons, he was especially beloved by the tzaddik, who admired his great eidelkeit and purity of spirit.
Young Pinchos Sholom also merited great closeness to his grandfather Harav Chaim Meir Hager, zy”a, the Imrei Chaim of Vizhnitz. Although he mostly studied in the Skverer Yeshivah, as a bachur he spent a significant amount of time in Bnei Brak at the side of his paternal grandfather, who also held a special affection for him.
In 1957, the Rav married, ybl”c, Raizel Horowitz, the daughter of Harav Shmuel Tzvi, “Reb Hershele,” zy”a, the Spinka Rebbe. Those who attended, remember the event as historic. It was one of the largest rebbishe chasunos to have taken place in America at the time, and was attended by many of the most prominent Gedolei Yisrael.
Above all else, the niftar put tremendous care into his interactions bein adam lachaveiro. He went to great lengths to avoid the smallest taint of machlokes, discord or anything that could cause pain or distress to another person.
A relative recalled that once, while sitting at a Purim seudah, one of the participants, in his joviality, insulted another guest. Reb Pinchos Shalom immediately commented to this relative how hurt he was to even witness such an event.
Despite his prominent position and lineage, the Rav carried himself with no airs and conducted himself with great simplicity. He would often go to farher children in the Vizhnitzer Cheder, where even young children felt completely comfortable with the community’s Rav, often asking him questions on Chumash and Mishnayos. Although he was very private and quiet by nature, he was very approachable by mispallelim, who felt they could find a sympathetic ear in their Rav.
He is survived by, ybl”c, his father, the Vizhnitzer Rebbe, shlita, wife, Rebbetzin Raizel Hager; sons: Harav Yaakov Yosef, who will succeed his father as Vizhniter Rav of Boro Park; Harav Yisrael, and Harav Chaim Meir; and daughters: Rebbetzin Tzipporah Schneebalg, Rebbetzin Miriam Fisch, Rebbetzin Shaindel Friedman, Rebbetzin Toby Beck, Rebbetzin Shprintza Stein, and Rebbetzin Brocha Tirnauer; his brothers and sisters; as well as many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Yehi zichro baruch.
A longer tribute will follow, iy”H, in the weekly edition.