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Monsieur Chouchani was a mysterious figure who travelled around post-World War II and taught several great Jewish thinkers, including Emmanuel Levinas z"l and [yibadel l'chayim] Elie Wiesel.

According to Ha'aretz:

Wiesel relates how a friend who had studied with him under Chouchani in France warned Wiesel that their teacher wanted to weaken the foundations of their belief and admitted that he found Chouchani frightening. That person, notes Wiesel, later traveled to Brooklyn and became the head of a yeshiva and one of the greatest rabbinical authorities of his generation.

I assume that rosh yeshiva is no longer living(?), so for history's sake, I'll ask: which rosh yeshiva was it?

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anyone want to provide a translation/summary of this interview? youtube.com/watch?v=S62uMKl0QrI –  not-allowed to change my name Nov 11 '12 at 4:06
    
the identity of Chouchani has been all but confirmed as Hillel Pearlman, student of Rav Kook. –  not-allowed to change my name Apr 21 '13 at 4:55
    
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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Rabbi Menashe Klein is a close friend of Eli Wiesel. Perhaps he is the person meant.

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At the very least, he fits the "rosh yeshiva" and "in Brooklyn" criteria (head of Beth Shearim, in Brooklyn). –  msh210 Mar 28 '11 at 20:38
    
Wow. That would make a great deal of sense, and I never thought of that; hooray for crowd-sourcing! Was he in France post-WWII? –  Shalom Mar 28 '11 at 22:20
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(I didn't mean to imply that R' Menashe Klein doesn't fit the "one of the greatest rabbinical authorities of his generation" criterion! Of course he does. I simply chose to comment on only the objective criteria.) –  msh210 Mar 29 '11 at 6:05
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Not having known Monsieur Chouchani I can't say for certain, but I can envision a scenario where he didn't sit or fit well with the young Rabbi Klein, who, being Hassidic, did not feel comfortable with this non-Hassidic stranger who was into philosophy and other things that were foreign to his Hungarian Chassidic background. Mr. Wiesel, on the other hand, was much more of a freethinker, so he didn't have the same negative reaction to him. –  Mordechai Mar 30 '11 at 6:12
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Mordechai, is this Rav Menashe Klein of Ungvar? Do you have any more details on their relationship? –  Tzvi Apr 1 '11 at 21:13
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Everything about the personality would click it was Rav Yitzchak Hutner, but had he ever lived in France? The Lubavitcher Rebbe had been in France, but was he a "rosh yeshiva"?

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I see where the Hebrew Wikipedia article about Chouchani indeed identifies the Lubavitcher Rebbe as one of his students, although that's marked "citation needed." Chronologically, it's just barely possible: the Rebbe lived in Vichy for a few months in 1940, and visited Paris briefly in 1947. –  Alex Mar 25 '11 at 15:08
    
Rav Hutner, Rav Solvechik, and the Rebbe all where in france and all attended the sorbonne university –  SimchasTorah Mar 25 '11 at 17:21
    
@ST, I think the timeline on this was post-WWII. Please correct me if I'm wrong. –  Shalom Mar 25 '11 at 17:34
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Just a counter point people knew him granted they might have not known which College inforebbe.blogspot.com/p/berlin-paris.html –  SimchasTorah Mar 29 '11 at 0:32
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@Yahu, to the best of my knowledge, the Rebbe attended both the Sorbonne, as well as the Ecole Polytechnique. –  HodofHod Jul 25 '12 at 18:01
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