The matzeivosevent honors the dozens of volunteers who reside in Kiamesha Lake (Vishnitz), Kiryas Yoel (Satmar), Monsey, New Square, and South Fallsburg (Yeshiva Zichron Moshe). In addition, the Hon. B. Elton J. Harris, Sullivan County coroner and licensed funeral director, has to be commended. By law, every interment must be personally overseen by a fully licensed funeral director. Elton Harris attended every single burial by Chesed shel Emes in Liberty. Late into the night, on legal holidays, in severely inclement weather, he unfailingly responds immediately and unhesitatingly whenever called.
Recognition also must be paid to Perry Meltzer, town justice of the Thompson Town Court, Monticello, who selflessly assists and guides Chesed shel Emes in innumerable ways.
The gemilas chassadim of Chesed shel Emes is widely acknowledged by police officials, elected leaders and activists in the observant community stand. Much credit must be given to Rabbi Mendy Rosenberg, founder and chairman of Chesed shel Emes; Rabbi Shraga Feivish Hager, Kosover Rebbe, who serves as posek for Chesed shel Emes; and Rabbi Shimon Zev Meisels, dayan in Kiryas Yoel, who is intimately involved with the organization’s work.
Vishnitzer Rebbe’s Mikveh Unearthed
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Hager, zt”l (1820-1884), Vishnitzer Rebbe and author of Tzemach Tzaddik, was the fourth rebbe in the Kossov Vishnitz dynasty and the first Vishnitzer Rebbe; son of Rabbi Chaim Hager, zt”l (1795-1854), Kosover Rebbe and author of Toras Chaim; son of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Hager, zt”l (1768-1825), Kosover Rebbe and author of Ahavas Shalom; son of Rabbi Yaakov Koppel Chosid Kapiletis, zt”l (d. 1787), one of the foremost disciples of the Baal Shem Tov.
Rabbi Yaakov Koppel Chosid was recognized by the Baal Shem Tov as a devout servant of Heaven and was invested with the chassidic cultivation of the entire Marmarosh mountain region in Romania, which included more than 160 kehillas. Rabbi Yaakov Koppel Chosid served as the shaliach tzibbur for the Baal Shem Tov and his melodious nussach hatefilah is still used by all Vishnitzer descendants.
The Tzemach Tzaddik was the son-in-law of Rabbi Yisroel Friedman, zt”l (1796-1850), legendary Rihziner Rebbe and author of Oros Yisroel and Ner Yisroel. The Tzemach Tzaddik began his leadership as Vishnitzer Rebbe at the age of 24. At that young age, he drew thousands of followers. After the passing of his father, the Toras Chaim, the number of his chassidim multiplied manifold. The reign of the Tzemach Tzaddik is treasured as the golden era of Vishnitzer chassidus.
Succeeding the Tzemach Tzaddik was Rabbi Boruch Hager, zt”l (1845-1893), Vishnitzer Rebbe and author of Imrei Boruch; followed by Rabbi Yisroel Hager, zt”l (1860-1936), Vishnitzer Rebbe and author of Ahavas Yisroel; followed by Rabbi Chaim Meir Hager, zt”l (1887-1972), Vishnitzer Rebbe and author of Imrei Chaim.
After World War II, the Imrei Chaim lived in Bucharest where he served the many refugees who gravitated there. After his brother, Rabbi Eliezer, zt”l (1891-1946), author of Damesek Eliezer, passed away, Rabbi Chaim Meir moved to Palestine and established the Vishnitzer community in Bnei Brak.
In recent years, with the influx of visiting chassidim to the city of Vishnitz in today’s Ukraine, Vishnitzer chassidishe activists have undertaken the rebuilding of the communal kehilla buildings there, including the residence and beis medrash where the Vishnitzer rebbes served.
Avrohom Menachem Adler, organizer of trips to the Ukraine, and Pinchas Schein of Kiryat Vishnitz in Bnei Brak, noticed that the Rebbe’s old home had a sub-basement. The Ukrainian caretaker refused to open locked stairways. After protracted negotiations and a healthy exchange of various currencies, the doors swung open. Downstairs in the hidden sanctuary, a fully functioning, rainwater-filled mikveh was discovered. Upon investigation, the mikveh was found to meet the most stringent halachic threshold.
The Tzemach Tzaddik was known to immerse himself frequently in order to maintain an exalted state of purity. When he commissioned the writing of a sefer Torah, the sofer lived in the Rebbe’s home and immersed in the mikveh before writing any of the holy names.
In sefer Beis Shlomo 1:48, Rabbi Shlomo Drimmer, zt”l (d. 1872), Skula Rav, in response to Rabbi Yosef, Vishnitzer dayan, outlines the particulars of the most stringent mikveh and notes that the Tzemach Tzaddik is known to be passionately observant. Therefore, he suggests that the mikveh for the Tzemach Tzaddik should meet the strictest interpretations.