Living Legacy: Rav Betzalel Ya’ir Danziger of Lodz-Aleksander

Living Legacy: Rav Betzalel Ya’ir Danziger of Lodz-Aleksander

Yehuda Alter 

The 25th of Adar marks the yohrtzeit of Rav Betzalel Ya’ir of Lodz-Aleksander, the son of Rav Yechiel Danziger who is known as the Admor Hazoken of Aleksander, and a younger brother of the Yismach Yisroel of Aleksander. 

He was born on the very date of 25 Adar 1861, in the town of Piltz, and he would spend his entire life immersed in Torah and avodah. He was a tremendous kodosh and a ga’on b’Torah. Over his lifetime, he would be seen often reciting Tehillim with heartrending sobs and great deveikus. His entire countenance shone with kedushah, and he was never seen engaging in idle chatter. He was exceedingly humble despite his renown as a ba’al mofes who effected great miracles for his fellow Yidden. 

Rav Betzalel Ya’ir practiced aestheticism, not wishing to take pleasure from This World, rather he engaged in avodas Hashem with fire and fervor, satisfied with a plate of buckwheat and some tea. Even later in life, when he became the rov of a city, went directly to the poor and the downtrodden. 

Being the youngest child and ben zekunim of his father, the Alter Rebbe of Aleksander, he earned a special place in his heart and the two learned together often during his youth, and he received much guidance and inspiration in avodas Hashem from his father who expressed wonder at the tremendous kedushah of his son. His father once said to one of his Chassidim regarding a young Betzalel Ya’ir, “can you properly appreciate the magnitude of his Tehillim?”

After his wedding, he promptly returned to the court of his illustrious father in Aleksander, and there he continued to toil in Torah day and night. Tzaddikim of his generation expressed their wonder on his greatness in Torah. With the petirah of his father, there were many chassidim who wished to appoint the youngest son as rebbe in his stead, but he adamantly refused, bowing completely to the leadership of his brother, the Yismach Yisroel. 

During WWI, he stayed in Lodz, where he began to conduct rabbonus and accept kvitlach. Many elder Aleksander chassidim and others began streaming to him, and the Rebbe inspired many souls toward elevated lives of Torah and kedusha. 

Through the many miracles that took place surrounding the Rebbe, he became renowned throughout Poland for his greatness. Thousands of people from the surrounding towns and shtetlach came to Lodz to meet the tzaddik, and it was evident that he truly took the tzoros of his fellow Yidden to heart, doing everything he could to alleviate their pain. 

Upon his petirah on 25 Adar 1934, he left behind a number of great and illustrious children—most of whom were killed in the Holocaust that came to Poland only a few years later. He was succeeded by his son-in-law, Rav Yehuda Moshe Danziger of Aleksander in Bnei Brak, and his descendants have continued this branch of the Aleksander Chassidus to this day. 

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