Jerusalem – The world is filled with people of different shades of gray.
On LaG BaOmer today, Rabbi Moshe Hirsch, the leader of the Neturei Karta organization passed away at the age of 79 at his home in Meah Shearim after a long illness. This past week he was hospitalized in Shaarei Tzeddek Hospital in Jerusalem. His perspectives on Israel, Zionism, and the propriety of meeting with Palestinian leaders and terrorists were quite controversial. He was firm in his anti-Zionist beliefs but went beyond most others of his circle in embracing Palestinians. It is interesting to note that the government of Israel vilified R. Hirsch, but eventually, they too sat down with Arafat and other Palestinians who had blood on their hands.
His views of Hareidi leaders who supported receiving money from the State of Israel was quite negative and as a consequence he himself was viewed negatively by many in the Hareidi world. A Tzaddik who knew him since his youth commented that his views were skewed because he did not learn Mussar on a daily basis.
Nonetheless, there were many remarkable qualities that Rabbi Moshe Hirsch possessed, that we can all learn from. He was an extraordinary Talmid Chachom, and published articles in Torah journals. One such piece dealt with the notion of Shaim UMalchus in a bracha when the it was recited erroneously.
Rav Aharon Kotler zatzal respected him highly when he was a single bochur learning in Lakewood, and came to be Menachem Avel him, when he sat Shiva for his father, Reb Yisroel Meir Hirsch. Rabbi Hirsch was the bochur entrusted with saying over Rav Aharon zatzal’s shiurim by the Rosh HaYeshiva.
R’ Moshe had a remarkable amount of Ahavas Yisroel, as well. Once there was a young woman who the doctors in the hospital had given up for dead. Reb Moshe Hirsch went around and gathered dozens of people, cajoling and convincing them, to give the young woman an emergency blood transfusion – an almost impossible task. Miraculously, she survived and gave birth to a family of Talmidei Chachomim.
On another occasion, he met and conversed with a former member of the Irgun Tzvai Leumi, and got along fabulously well with him. Although worlds apart in philosophy, the two of them appeared as if they were the best of friends. His respect for others in conversation was well known.
Rabbi Hirsch was an expert in the laws of Esrogim and sold Esrogim in meah Shearim. Numerous Gedolim were his customers year after year.
A few years ago, an assailant threw acid in his face and Rabbi Hirsch was blinded in one eye on account of the attack.
Reb Moshe Hirsch was a son-in-law of Rabbi Aharon Katzenellenbogen, the founder of the Neturei Karta. He grew up in Williamsburg, and studied in the Lakewood yeshiva under Rav Aharon Kotler. His son, Yisroel Meir, ybl”ct is the author of the Vilna Gaon Siddur, which is a masterful work.
The funeral will be at 6:00 PM outside of the Yeshuos Yaakov synagogue in Meah Shearim. He leaves three children, Yisroel Meir, Mordechai, Tzivya, and one other daughter. He has one surviving brother of the seven siblings, Yitzchok Hirsch, living in California.