By COLlive reporter
A few hours before Shabbos on Friday, 12th of Tishrei 5779, lawyers representing the Bnei Brak municipality arrived at the Tel Aviv District Court for an urgent hearing.
On the agenda was the demand of Metropolitan Transportation Lines, a government company responsible for mass transportation in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, to continue digging a tunnel on Shabbos for the Dan Region light rail.
A day earlier, the court approved a municipality-issued injunction forbidding the work on Shabbos. But now, the company’s representatives claimed: “It’s pikuach nefesh.”
To everyone’s surprise, Chief Rabbi of Bnei Brak Moshe Landa also arrived at the court. His family related that despite being in a wheelchair and unable to walk, he insisted on participating in the hearing. And then he requested to speak.
Rabbi Landa told the court that it is possible that the machines would sustain some damage as a result of the work stopping, but that did not fall into the category of pikuach nefesh.
Rabbi Landa added that the CEO of the company had even told him so, but now he was denying it. Rabbi Landa fixed him with a piercing gaze. “You have no backbone,” the rabbi told the CEO, and left the hearing, very upset.
Then he announced that he would participate in the next day’s mass tefillah rally — and he did, along the entire route, despite his limited mobility. It was one of Rabbi Landa’s final public appearances.
This episode is one of the stories shared in this week’s issue of Mishpacha Magazine about Rabbi Landa, the prominent Chabad rav who oversaw the most respected kosher agency in the world, who passed away this past Motzoei Shabbos.
Since his passing, a large crowd came to his home in Bnei Brak to comfort the family as they sat Shiva. Among them were the Tzanzer Rebbe, Israel’s Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, Rosh Yeshiva of Ponevezh Rabbi Berel Povarsky and Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar.
Notably among them was Rabbi Shevach Tzvi Rosenblatt, a member of Badatz Sheeris Yisroel, opened as a litvish rivalry to Rabbi Landa. He will now be sharing the title Chief Rabbi of Bnei Brak and responsibility for the kashrus certification with Rabbi Landa’s son Rabbi Aizik Landa.
Newspapers Hamodia and Hamevaser and weekly magazines Kfar Chabad, Mishpacha, Bakhilla and others have published lengthy tributes to Rabbi Landa’s genious in Torah and halacha, firmness in gaurding Mitzvos and steadfast leadership.
Here’s an excerpt from Mishpacha’s cover story:
Throughout his life, Rabbi Landa stood guard to ensure that Bnei Brak’s character would not be marred. The women’s clothing stores sold only modest attire. When the idea arose to build a shopping mall in the heart of Bnei Brak, he fought against the spiritual danger to the city, encouraging then-mayor Rabbi Yissachar Frankenthal to stand firm in the face of pressure by the developers. The plan was eventually buried.
He made sure fast food places closed by 11 at night, and from 8 p.m. the tables were folded, except in restaurants with an on-site mashgiach. And he instructed all the matzah bakeries under his supervision to make sure that none of the workers had a nonkosher phone.
When Rabbi Landa was asked about his many stringencies, he would often reply that he was guarding the deposit given to him by his father, Rabbi Yaakov Landa, who served as the city’s rav for 50 years until his passing in 1986. For the next 33 years, all of Rabbi Moshe Landa’s energies were devoted to protecting the mission bequeathed to him.