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?


2 Answers 2


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

  • At the very least, he fits the "rosh yeshiva" and "in Brooklyn" criteria (head of Beth Shearim, in Brooklyn).
    – msh210
    Commented Mar 28, 2011 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
    Commented Mar 28, 2011 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
    Commented Mar 29, 2011 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
    Commented Mar 30, 2011 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
    Commented Apr 1, 2011 at 21:13

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
    Commented Mar 25, 2011 at 15:08
  • Rav Hutner, Rav Solvechik, and the Rebbe all where in france and all attended the sorbonne university Commented Mar 25, 2011 at 17:21
  • @ST, I think the timeline on this was post-WWII. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
    – Shalom
    Commented Mar 25, 2011 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 Commented Mar 29, 2011 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
    Commented Jul 25, 2012 at 18:01

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