Israel Meir Kagan, The Chofetz Chaim
For almost one hundred years
he lit up our world. His was a
soul from on high whose only desire in life was to fulfill the wish of his
Creator through lifting the worth of individual lives as well as the life of
the Jewish people as a whole. This
was the substance of the marvelous life of this giant of justice and
He could find no peace when
contemplating the state of the nation regarding
the grave sin of slander, until he composed his first work which carried the
name with which he has been identified ever since:
Chofetz Chaim... He also was inspired to produce a work, Ahavas Chesed (Love of Kindness) detailing the laws between man and
The emigration to America made
him fearful for the well-being of Judaism in places where Jewish settlements
were not well organized. He recognized the trials of the new immigrants and
to fill their needs he wrote Nidchei Yisrael, (Dispersed of
Israel), replete with detailed laws specifically related to the new life
of the émigrés and heartfelt words of inspiration and encouragement to
strengthen them in overcoming obstacles and preserving their Judaism. And his caring eye observed the young conscripts forced to
live far from any semblance of Jewish
life and desperately in need of special guidance.
For them he composed Machne Yisrael, (The Camp of
In spite of all the writings
of his predecessors he found that he must clarify many laws of the first
portion of the Shulchan
Aruch, and composed his famous Mishna Brura, which
is firmly established as an authoritative source.
And within his heart there
burned a holy fire: the hope for the full salvation.
The final redemption of Israel was his constant concern.
For the arrival of that event the laws of Kodshim must be clear.
But he saw that such learning was much neglected and so composed a
monumental work on the order Kodshim, Likkutei Halachos.
In spite of all these
undertakings he was totally involved in all matters of Torah support with
youthful enthusiasm even when he was well into his nineties, traveling to
anywhere he might help to strengthen activities on behalf of Torah.
This is but a too-brief
overview of the life of an extraordinary
man whose saintly presence we were fortunate to encounter and from whose
saintly life and pure character we were privileged to feel the impact.
from an article by Rabbi Avrohom Yitzchak Kook which appeared in the journal
HaHaid. Translated by Matis
Greenblatt for Fall 1983 issue of Jewish Action Magazine).
The above graphic includes photographs that were provided by VERAfilm archives.