We’ve just learned the sad news: Elie Wiesel, Auschwitz Survivor and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Dies at 87. Baruch Dayan Emet (Blessed is the True Judge).
We had the privilege to meet him and to interview him last year in New York.
Elie Wiesel was happy to talk about his mentor and master Shoshani (Chouchani).
We believe this was his last filmed interview.
Another fascinating article written by a talented journalist Ofer Aderet in Haaretz (same journalist who wrote the first article about our movie on Chouchani / Shoshani http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.553215)
This time it’s about the most famous book of Elie Wiesel, “Night”. We learn here that Dr Joel Rapel – who was the director of Elie Wiesel’s archives in Boston for years – found there this manuscript in Hebrew! Nobody knew until now that Wiesel wrote a version of “Night” in Hebrew because it has never been published. The text in Hebrew is different than the one in French.
Another interesting point in the article, though we knew it before from another source: Elie Wiesel holds letters that Chouchanu/Shoshani wrote him! Under what name did Chouchani sign his letters? good question… It’s important to stress the fact that Elie Wiesel has always maintained that Chouchani’s real name was Mordehai Rosenbaum.
Note: this mention of these letters doesn’t appear in the Hebrew translation of the original article of Aderet in Hebrew, one can say that Chouchani was lost in translation
Lévinas si sofferma inoltre sulla sua infanzia, segnata dall’ebraismo. Decisiva fu la personale scoperta del Talmud fatta sotto la guida di Chouchani, maestro di esegesi biblica. “Un uomo – ricorda Lévinas – che poteva attraversare un gran numero di idee, senza sentire l`obbligo di portarle a un esito conclusivo”.
In Italian, again! Miriam Camerini talks about her theater play Monsieur Chouchani (or Shoshani)
Prof Jacques Goldberg says about his Master Shoshani:
“[That's] how he started teaching me Torah when I was ten, not without quoting that the same method was used over the years, for Bible, Mishna, Talmud … and maths. Because he found me serious and motivated, he just very quickly gave up the requirement of writing, verbal was sufficient.
I would first read the next verse, never more, in Hebrew.
I would then copy the verse, in Hebrew, in my notebook, over two blank pages per verse, and draw columns lines word after word.
In each column I would write down all possible meanings of each individual word without consideration to the neighbor columns.
I would then start a loop in a loop in a loop etc… to build statements meaning by meaning. Most could quickly be discarded as making no sense.
Among those still making sense, I had to select the best, and convince Monsieur Shoshani why I was convinced that this was the best understanding.
And then I only had to convince him that the contrary could as well be correct… before starting the next verse.”
How to understand the Talmud – according to Monsieur Chouchani
“The fundamental principle is reported by Levinas in the name of his teacher, Chouchani: “One does not have to construct nor speculate abstractly, but through imagination.” On this are based the following assumptions:
1. Reading Talmud requires sensitivity to images, ideas, reactions, random thoughts, even distractions, that occur in the process of reading.
2. Reading Talmud requires asking questions, permitted or not.
3. The Talmud should be read aloud to approximate an oral tradition.
4. The Talmud is to be taken as a whole.
5. The Talmud is part of the story of the encounter between Israel and the “Nameless Being.” This encounter precludes a sensibility of oppression.
6. Although historical and scientific information is essential for a proper reading of the Talmud, such information must be subject to the same images, ideas, reactions, random thoughts, even distractions and – especially – questions as the text.
7. The mention of “Israel” means human being. As Levinas wrote:
Each time Israel is mentioned in the Talmud one is free, certainly, to understand by it a particular ethnic group which is probably fulfilling an incomparable destiny. But to interpret in this manner would be to reduce the general principle in the idea enunciated in the Talmudic passage, would be to forget that Israel means a people who has received the Law and, as a result, a human nature which has reached the fullness of its responsibilities and of its self-consciousness… the heirs of Abraham are all nations; any man truly man is no doubt of the line of Abraham.”
In “Reading Levinas/Reading Talmud: An Introduction”
By Ira F. Stone