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What is the story behind this picture being known as the image of the great Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan(Chafetz Chaim)? Is it him in fact? Where does it come from?


The only true picture (that I am aware of) shows him sitting down, at a distance and is rather unclear:


This website mentions that the first image could be that of his Shamas or wagon driver. It describes the above photo (the second picture) as follows: "The above picture was taken in Radin and the Chofetz Chaim is seen speaking to his oldest son, Rabbi Leib Poupko who eventually became Rav in Radin and President of the Mizrachi in Poland. He passed away in 1939. The CC’s last Rebbetzin, also who was an adopted daughter, is standing behind him. There’s also a young woman in the picture standing next to the Chofetz Chaim. Rav Chaim Wolkin, the Mashgiach in Ateres, is seen posing (in a walking pose, which was apparently a popular thing in those days) in the street between the photographer and the house".

Are there any other photos of the Chofetz Chaim to which we can compare the first picture for authentication?

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You start asking "What is the story behind this picture of the Chofetz Chaim becoming the image of the great Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan?" which makes it sound like you agree it's the Chafetz Chayim but doubt it's Rabbi Kagan (???) and are asking how it became known as Rabbi Kagan's picture. Then you ask "Are there any other photos of the Chofetz Chaim?", a completely separate question AFAICT. What are you really asking? –  msh210 Aug 25 '13 at 6:19
... Oh, and your title is yet a third question. –  msh210 Aug 25 '13 at 6:36
@msh210 I believe he's asking only one question "Is this an authentic picture of the Chofetz Chaim AKA Rabbi Yisroel Meir Hakohen?" And if it is authentic, where did it show up from? Personally, I believe it's a painting and not a photograph. –  Meir Zirkind Aug 25 '13 at 6:51
The Living Torah Museum has another photo which they claim is the clearest one ever discovered: torahmuseum.com/Viewer_personalities/Person01_ChofetzChaim.html –  Dave Aug 25 '13 at 16:28
New evidence: somehowfrum.blogspot.com/2015/02/… –  Isaac Moses Feb 24 at 14:28

2 Answers 2

up vote 15 down vote accepted

Yes, the painting is based on a popular picture of the Chofetz Chaim, which can be seen in The Schwadron Collection of the National Library of Israel (Jerusalem). The archive lists the picture as following:

A photo portrait of Rabbi Israel Meir Cohen ("Chafetz Chaim"): printed silver, black and white, 7X12 cm. Portfolio also includes a copy of this portrait, which contains on the back a summarized biography of the subject, written by Dr. Abraham Schwadron in Yiddish.

It is undated but clearly identified by the archive as the Chofetz Chaim. Here is that picture:

enter image description here

Although it is undated, we know it was circulated in his lifetime. The collection also includes clippings from Polish newspapers and other sources that reprint the picture, and label his name with shlita (may he live for many good days amen). For example:

enter image description here

The collection also contains another picture of the Chofetz Chaim from a newspaper, which alleges that he is 90 in the picture (notice the cane, also seen in the sitting picture you included):

enter image description here

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who was "Dr. Abraham Schwadron"? –  barlop Feb 17 at 21:38
He was a prominent Zionist writer of the early 20th century, known as Avraham Sharon in Israel, who established an amazing collection at the National Library. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avraham_Sharon –  Aryeh Feb 17 at 21:45

This video that has been making the rounds on Jewish sites recently has a short scene of the Chafetz Chaim.


Here are some screen caps:

Chofetz Chaim video Chofetz Chaim video Chofetz Chaim video Chofetz Chaim video

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The Chofetz Chaim appears at 0:56, youtu.be/87XlDRjmPME?t=56s –  Yehuda Feb 25 at 13:09
@Danny Nice work my technologically advanced friend. Thank you. –  user6591 Feb 25 at 17:08

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