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The Chofetz Chaim’s Obituary in the NY Times (1933)

Posted on | November 3, 2006 | By Administrator | 7 Comments

Chofetz Chaim, 105 Is Dead in Poland

Venerated by Orthodox Jews as one of the 36 ‘Saints Who Saved the World’.

Lived Long In Poverty

Gave Up Store When Popularity in Village ‘Deprived Other Mechants of a Living’.

WILNO, Poland, Sept 15 (Jewish Telegraph Agency) – The famed Chofetz Chaim, venerated by Orthodox Jews throughout the world as one of the 36 saints because of whose piety the Lord has not destroyed the world, died today in the village of Radin, near here, where he had spent most of the more than 100 years of his life. He had been ill only a short time

The Chofetz Chaim, whose real name was Rabbi Yisroel Meier Cohen, had been a figure of almost legendary importance for almost half a century. Stories of his piety sprang up in the lore of Eastern Europe and among orthodox Jews all over the world. The village where he had served for a few months as a rabbi was the scene of pilgrimages of thousands of orthodox Jews seeking the blessing of the Chofetz Chaim.

In 1873 Rabbi Cohen published a book in Hebrew, entitled the “Chofetz Chaim”, listing all the forms of slander from which a pious Jew must guard himself. It was because of this book that he became known as the Chofetz Chaim.

Age Believed to Be 106.

He was born in the village of Zhetel, Poland. After a brief period as a rabbi in Radin he founded a yeshiva, a school for teaching the Talmud, and supported it for many years. He gained renown as a Talmudic scholar and many of his works on the regulations of the Jewish religion have been accepted as definitive.
Funeral services will be held Sunday at Radin.

The Chofetz Chaim was 105 years old, according to information from his family, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported. He never would reveal his age, however, and several years ago, when friends and relatives planned a birthday celebration in his honor, the scholar was very much perturbed.

Despite his fame as “the uncrowned spiritual king of Israel”, the Chofetz Chaim was a modest and humble man. His career as a merchant was of short duration. Because of his popularity all the Jews of the town flocked to his store. The Chofetz Chaim thereupon closed the store on the ground he was depriving other Jewish merchants of a living.

At the age of 90, when he was already a legendary figure among the Jews, the Chofetz Chaim became convinced of the imminent arrival of the Messiah, who would lead the Jews back to Palestine and he regarded it as his special duty to assume the functions of the high priest.

He was the author of a score of works surrounding the religious and ethical principals of the Jewish religion, including one which became a handbook for all rabbis. Despite his great distinction the Chofetz Chaim lived in povery all his life.

Chofetz Chaims Obituary

Comments

7 Responses to “The Chofetz Chaim’s Obituary in the NY Times (1933)”

  1. A reader
    November 3rd, 2006 @ 7:47 am
  2. Another reader
    November 3rd, 2006 @ 10:03 am
  3. DK
    November 3rd, 2006 @ 12:43 pm

    This obituary wasn’t original NY Times content. It was JTA syndicated. It says so.

  4. JR
    November 3rd, 2006 @ 12:46 pm

    The Chofetz Chaim biographies have his birth/death as 1838 – 1933, which would mean he lived 95 years.

  5. Avigayil Meyer
    November 6th, 2006 @ 4:10 am

    The above NYT obituary was found by me and sent out to several contacts via e-mail. I see however, that my letter of explanation has conveniently not been included on others’ Internet sights including THIS ONE! I spent the time and energy finding this obituary after attending a shiur mentioning the Chofetz Chaim’s advanced age. I would greatly appreciate it if people and websites could please include MY NAME whne posting this obituary – after all, credit shall be given where credit id DUE. This author has merely taken my find (and parts of MY letter I see) and posted as a personal find… Again, please update that the credit belongs to Avigayil Meyer. thank you.

  6. Michoel
    November 6th, 2006 @ 9:10 am

    Avigayil,
    Yashar koach for your great contribution. Chazal say kal haomer davar b’shem omro meivi g’eula l’olam, saying over something in the name of the one that said it first brings redemtion to the world and you certainly should be credited. Just an FYI, this obituatry is actually very well known in some cirlces, so I don’t think it should be viewed as on par with new research.

    It was great to read it again and I’m sure it is the first time for a lot of folks. Thanks for your efforts.

    Michoel

  7. David Linn
    November 6th, 2006 @ 9:22 am

    Avigayil,

    The obituary was emailed to us by a friend. While the email did contain the short introduction of the individual who had forwared the obituary, it did not contain a name. If you were the one who forwarded it, thank you and kol hakavod.

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