### while. He resigned when one of the litigants in a case before him only on condition that the community would not pay him a salary. When his wife reproved him for this and complained that the community was well able to pay him a stipend, the rabbi answered: “As long as I refuse to accept money, the community will continue to offer it to me and respect me at the same time. But if I should accept, they won’t offer it to me with as much respect as formerly. Is it not worth more to you that the community should want to pay us a salary while maintaining its admiration for us?”
Other anecdotes about the “Chofetz Chaim” are abundant and a great body of lore has sprung up about the figure of the venerable scholar throughout Eastern Europe. Warmly regarded by his Christian neighbors who came to him for advice or consolation as frequently as did his co-religionists, he was looked upon by the latter as one of the thirty-six “Lamed-Vovniks” or saints who, according to Jewish tradition, avert the wrath of the Lord from the world by their goodness and piety. His neighbors regarded him as one of their own since, to them, he spoke in the Yiddish tongue, which they knew best.
At the age of ninety, when he was already a legendary figure among the Jews, the “Chofetz Chaim” became convinced of the imminent arrival of the Messiah who would lead the Jews back to Palestine. Since he was the oldest living member of the Kohanim, the ancient priestly tribe, he regarded it as his special duty to assume the functions of high priest, and began to prepare himself for the Messiah’s arrival. He organized special classes to teach other priests their duties and called on learned Jews everywhere to instruct their brethren in the sacrificial laws.
GUIDE FOR JEWISH SOLDIERS
He was the author of a score of works expounding the religious and ethical principles of the Jewish religion and including one which became a handbook for all rabbis. Another of his works was a guide for Jewish soldiers.
He established and maintained the Chofetz Chaim Yeshiva at Radin, where for over half half a century he expounded the Torah to devoted disciples. His disciples surrounded him on every occasion and regarded him with an awe which spread even to members of his immediate family.
Despite his great distinction and renown, the “Chofetz Chaim” lived in poverty all his life. He dressed simply and poorly, in the same manner as his neighbors.
“Last year at this time, I was privileged to be the guest of the ‘Chofetz Chaim’,” Rabbi Wolf Gold told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “I had made a tour of Eastern Europe to investigate conditions in the yeshivas. My son and I went to a tiny village near Wilno, where the ‘Chofetz Chaim’ was residing. We sat in a cottage with a roof of thatch. The cottage contained nothing but a small table, a few chairs and, behind a curtain, a small iron cot.
BODY WASTED, THIN, SMALL
“After a while, he was carried in on the hands of his disciples. Had it not been for the white beard, we would have thought that a little child was being brought in, so wasted and thin and small was his body.
“When he learned that my son was a survivor of the Hebron riots in Palestine, the venerable old man seized his hand and kissed it, exclaiming, ‘a brand saved from the fire.’
“The ‘Chofetz Chaim’ was a living refutation and protest against the materialistic idea that man has no soul. His body was reduced to nothingness, but his soul and his crystal clear mind shone as brightly as the sun.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.