Tag Archives: memory

The last filmed interview of Elie Wiesel was about his Mentor Shoshani – Chouchani

Filmmaker Michael Grynszpan and Elie Wiesel z.l.

Filmmaker Michael Grynszpan and Elie Wiesel z.l.


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.

Levinas said: “Shoshani? there is no other subject”

Levinas said: “Shoshani? there is no other subject”. (in the book of S. Malka in French “Monsieur Chouchani: L’énigme d’un maitre du XXe siècle”)

Levinas a dit: “Chouchani ? il n’y a pas d’autre sujet”. (source : dans le livre de S. Malka “Monsieur Chouchani : L’énigme d’un maitre du XXe siècle”)

פרופ’ לוינס אמר : “שושני ? אין נושא (סובייקט) אחר (מקור: מתוך הספר מאת שלמה מלכה “מר שושני”, שעדיין לא תורגם לעברית

Manitou parle de Chouchani

Ecoutez Manitou (rav Leon Ashkenazi) parlant de Chouchani : 

“Vous avez peut-être entendu parler d’un grand maitre d’après guerre qui était très spécial, c’est Chouchani. J’ai eu le privilège de le connaitre. Il aimait mettre les gens dans sa poche. Il était d’une science faramineuse et d’une mémoire impossible et vraiment une intelligence… hors du commun ! au point que JE ME DEMANDE S’IL ETAIT UN HOMME OU AUTRE CHOSE, c’est pour vous dire…

On ne sait pas d’où il venait. A l’accent il était lithuanien, son accent en hébreu était Litvak, ou alors c’est qu’il a étudié dans une yéshiva Litvak. C’était un prodige. Il est fort probable que dans sa Yeshivah il n’avait personne à qui parler, alors il est devenu fou.

Il y avait des gens qui disaient il est 50% fou et 50% génie – mais c’est faux. Il était 100 % génie et 100% fou ! C’était quelque chose d’exceptionnel. Je l’ai fréquenté pendant un an, admirez ma patience ! Il aimait parfois mettre les gens dans sa poche alors il avait appris que dans une synagogue de la rue Blanche, il y avait Moadon de la communauté séférade turque de la rue Saint-Lazarre. Une fois le comité culturel de la rue Blanche- en plein Pigale – avait invité un prêtre à faire un exposé sur le Cantique des cantiques. A la fin de l’exposé Chouchani se lève et dit : dites-moi la vérité : comment savez-vous ces choses-là puisque vous êtes célibataire ? Toute la salle s’est esclaffée…”

 

Albert Einstein’s quote

Albert Einstein: “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. 456px-Einstein_1921_by_F_SchmutzerHe to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead —his eyes are closed. The insight into the mystery of life, coupled though it be with fear, has also given rise to religion. To know what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms—this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.”

“The words of the sages are like glowing embers”

Levinas says in an interview:
“I am extremely grateful for what I learned from him [Shoshani]. In a haggadic text of the treatise dessin-de-Jeruzolemski-217x300Pirke Avoth, there is this phrase: “The words of the sages are like glowing embers.” One can ask, why embers, why not flame? Because it only becomes a flame when one knows how to blow on it! I have hardly learned to blow. There are always great minds who contest this manner of blowing. They say, “You see, he draws out of the text what is not in the text. He forces a meaning into it.” But if one does it with Goethe, with Valery, with Corneille, the critics accept it. It appears more scandalous to them when one does it with regard to Scripture. And one has to have met Shoshani in order not to be convinced by these critical minds. Shoshani taught me: what is essential is that the meaning found merits, by its wisdom, the research that reveals it. That the text had suggested it to you.”

Elie Wiesel in an interview in 1978 talks about Shushani / Chouchani / Shoshani / שושני

books-elie-wiesel-1280x960In an interview of Elie Wiesel in 1978:

INTERVIEWER
What about Rav Mordechai Shushani? Where did you and he meet?

WIESEL
We met in Paris and I stayed with him for several years. He was a strange man. A genius who looked like a bum, or a clown. He pushed me to the abyss. But he believed in that. One day I am going to write a monograph about him. His concept was to shock, to shake you up, to push you further and further. If you don’t succeed, too bad. But you must risk it. If I had stayed with him longer, I don’t know what would have happened.

INTERVIEWER
Did he push anybody over the abyss?

WIESEL
He did. I heard stories later when I began picking up pieces looking for him. He did it with the best of intentions. Few people have had such an influence on my life as he did.

INTERVIEWER
Who were the others?

WIESEL
Here and there a teacher, a friend. But he is probably the strongest. He’s the opposite of Professor Saul Lieberman, who is no longer alive, but whom I considered to be the greatest Jewish scholar of his day. One cannot study the Talmud without the help of his commentaries. He was my friend and my teacher. Shushani, on the other hand, was not my friend. Surely he possessed a certain strength and power; so did Professor Lieberman—but his was not frightening.

What defines a man?

From Mister Shoshani Elie Wiesel learned that “Man is defined by what troubles him, not by what reassures him.”

eliewiesel

Elie Wiesel a appris de Monsieur Chouchani que “l’homme se définie par ce qui l’inquiète, non pas par ce qui le rassure”.

  אלי ויזל למד ממר שושני ש”האדם מוגדר על-ידי מה שמדאיג אותו, ולא על-ידי מה
שמרגיע אותו

Who was Mister Shushani? Qui était Monsieur Chouchani?

Monsieur Chouchani (? – 1968), or “Shushani,” is the nickname of an otherwise anonymous and enigmatic Jewish teacher who taught a small number of distinguished students in post-World War II Europe and elsewhere, including Emmanuel Levinas and Elie Wiesel.

Not much is known about “M. Chouchani,” including his real name, a secret which he zealously guarded. His origins are completely unknown, and his gravestone (located in Montevideo, Uruguay, where he died in January 1968) reads, “The wise Rabbi Chouchani of blessed memory. His birth and his life are sealed in enigma.” The text is by Elie Wiesel who paid for this gravestone. The name “Shushani,” which means “person from Shushan,” is most probably an allegorical reference, or possibly a pun. Elie Wiesel hypothesizes that Chouchani’s real name was Mordechai Rosenbaum, while Hebrew University professor Shalom Rosenberg asserts that Chouchani’s actual name was Hillel Perlmann.

Although there is no known body of works by Chouchani himself, there is a very strong intellectual legacy seen in the influence on his pupils. By all accounts, Chouchani had the appearance of a vagabond and yet was reputed to be a master of vast areas of human knowledge, including science, mathematics, philosophy and especially the Talmud. Most of the biographical details of Chouchani’s life are known from the works and interviews of his various students, as well as anecdotes of people whom he encountered during his lifetime.
Chouchani appeared in Paris after the Second World War, where he taught between the years of 1947 and 1952. He disappeared for a while after that, evidently spent some time in the newly-formed state of Israel, returned to Paris briefly, and then left for South America where he lived until his death.

Admiration of a tramp by Professor Emmanuel Levinas

cropped-Header-Emmanuel-Levinas3His disciple Emmanuel Levinas says about Mister Shushani that he was not impressed at first sight by the man. But after this first meeting he said “I don’t know what this man knows, but what I do know is that everything that I know – he also knows it.”
Levinas admired Shushani for the rest of his life.

תלמידו עמנואל לווינס מספר שכשראהו לראשונה לא  גםהתרשם ממראהו, אך לאחר פגישה זו אמר “איני יודע מה האיש הזה יודע, אבל מה שאני כן יודע : כל מה שאני יודע – הוא גם כן יודע”. לוינס העריץ את שושני עד סוף ימיו.

Son élève Emmanuel Levinas raconte que lorsqu’il l’a rencontré pour la première fois, il n’était à première vue pas très impressionné par le personnage.
Mais juste après cette rencontre il a dit “Je ne sais pas ce que cet homme sait, mais ce que je sais c’est : tout ce que je sais – il le sait aussi.”
Levinas a admiré Chouchani jusqu’à la fin de sa vie.

Our movie about Monsieur Chouchani – Mr. Shoshani – מר שושני

We are producing a movie about Mr. Shoshani / Monsieur Chouchani / מר שושני

מר-שושני
We are conducting extensive research about his life and his teaching. If you have any new information about this man, if you met him, or if you know people who met him, please contact us. Email: contactfilm AT chouchani.com 

​The film director Michael Grynszpan and the production team will be very grateful to you if you can help.

 אנחנו מפיקים סרט תעודי על מר שושני - אנחנו עושים תחקיר מקיף על חייו ועל לימודיו. 

:אם ברשותכם מידע חדש כלשהו על האדם הזה, אם פגשתם אותו, או אם אתם מכירים אנשים שפגשו אותו, אנא  צרו איתנו קשר לדו”אל הזה

contactfilm AT chouchani.com

במאי הסרט מיכאל גרינשפן וצוות ההפקה מודים לכם מראש.


Nous produisons un film sur Monsieur Chouchani / Mister Shushani. Nous effectuons une recherche approfondie sur sa vie et son enseignement.

Si vous disposez de quelque information nouvelle à propos de cet homme, si vous l’avez rencontré ou si vous connaissez des personnes qui l’ont rencontré, veuillez avoir la gentillesse de nous contacter. Email : contactfilm AROBASE chouchani.com

Le réalisateur du film Michael Grynszpan et l’équipe de production vous remercient de votre aide.