The world of Torah and Chassidus went into deep mourning on Tuesday 20 Tammuz-July 7 with the passing of the Admor of Seret-Vishnitz who established an exemplary community in Haifa and from there radiated his influence to the rest of the Jewish world. He had a heart attack at the age of 91.
The Admor HaRav Eliezer Hagar zt"l was born on motzei Yom Kippur 5684 (1923) to the author of the Mekor Boruch zt"l in Grosswardein, Romania. From his youth he was obviously gifted and had wonderful middos and it was expected that he would eventually continue the holy chain the family. His grandfather, the Ahavas Yisroel of Vishnitz, took a special interest in him and studied with him extensively.
He was brought up and educated mainly by his holy father but throughout his long life he remained very attached to his grandfather. Every word that he had heard from him and every motion that the Ahavas Yisroel had made in his presence remained engraved on his memory and persona. When he used to have his tisch on his grandfather's yahrtzeit, he used to say, "Ich shmeck noch zein rei'ach tov." ("I can still smell his wonderful spirit.")
The longest period he spent with his grandfather was in 5695, when his father went with his uncles, the Imrei Chaim and the Damesek Eliezer, to visit Eretz Yisroel. While they were gone he stayed with his grandfather. He tried to take advantage of every minute. As he recalled, "I followed him everywhere. I used to be bakodesh penimoh when he received kvittlach from the community. I stood next to his shtender every day when he counted Sefiras HaOmer. Every word and every movement of his is engraved on my soul to this day.
"I will never forget Shavuos with my holy grandfather. He stood in the middle and the entire community danced with their entire souls. As a child it seemed to me like the walls were about to collapse."
In 5711 he built his home with Rebbetzin Chaya Tzirel o"h, the daughter of HaRav Sholom Ozer Braun zt"l.
In those early days of the Jewish settlement in Israel, many well meaning observers looked at the Admor of Seret-Vishnitz as a hopeless dreamer from wanting to build a Torah community in the heart of Red Haifa, the stronghold of the Left and the anti-religious secularists. Many advisors told them that the most that one could expect to accomplish in Haifa is to bring up Jews to basic mitzvah-observance. But to have a community of dozens of talmidei chachomim and poskim, rabbonim and educators — this was beyond the imagination. But the Admorim had a different vision.
The beginning was modest, but the cornerstone of a new neighborhood was laid in Tammuz 5714, B.S."D. It was not easy or smooth, but slowly the neighborhood and its Torah institutions were established. In the course of the construction, the Admor zt"l passed away, and his son was chosen to take his place. He continued the great project begun by his father, and with great chasdei Shomayim he was so successful that today the neighborhood has hundreds of residents and prestigious Torah institutions of all kinds.
The Admor was always careful to maintain good relations with the other residents of Haifa who have (mostly) reciprocated.
Lately he was very weak, and two weeks ago he went to part from all the children of the talmud Torah, whom be blessed one by one.
The Admor is survived by his son who continues his path, HaRav Yaakov, and his two sons-in-law. In addition there are many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and a large community that flourished in the shade of his influence.