Talk:Israel Meir Kagan

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The sin of Loshon Hora, evel talk, is transgressed according to the Torah whenever one speaks truth that can cause harm, embarrassment or other damage to the subject. According to Kabbalistic sources, Rabbi Mendel Kessin states, the sins of the speaker, subject and listener are all revealed to the heavenly court at the time of the evil talk. Each word of Loshon Hora comprises 31 seperate sins for the speaker.

And therefore...? JFW | T@lk 07:31, 24 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Yisrael Meir Kagan[edit]

Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan was one of the most important rabbis of the Musar movement. He was not Just an Eastern European rabbi etc...That is why I added it in the opening statement. Jan 17, 2012. mada100 — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mada100 (talkcontribs) 09:02, 17 January 2012 (UTC)

Sha'ar HaTziyyun[edit]

The work referred to in the article as Sha'ar HaTzion (Translated in the article as "Gate of Zion/Excellence") is actually Sha'ar HaTziyyun. Sha'ar HaTzion would be translated as "Gate of Zion," but could not be translated as "Gate of Excellence." Sha'ar HaTziyyun could theoretically be translated as "Gate of Excellence," but that translation is inappropriate in context. The work serves primarily to document sources for laws and customs quoted in the Mishnah Berurah. The name Sha'ar HaTziyyun derives from the phrase Sh'arim m'tzuyanim ba'halacha, translated as "gateways distinguished in (or marked in) Jewish Law," referring to the Torah study and scholarship that would distinguish Jewish homes. Rabbi Kagan chose the title as a double entendre, hinting at the distinguishment of scholarship referenced in his work, but primarily referring to the function of Sha'ar HaTziyyun in documenting (marking) sources. HKT 22:27, 8 May 2005 (UTC)

  • Hey HKT: Feel free to put some of these observations into the article itself, they sound very learned and informative. IZAK 22:51, 8 May 2005 (UTC)

Picture's authenticity[edit]

"The picture is really his shammash" or "the picture is really his shochet" are two popular rumors that have been circulating for quite a while. I've personally seen a few photos of the Chafetz Chaim in a recently published book, and, in my opinion, there is no mistaking that the likeness in this ubiquitous picture is him. HKT 02:20, 13 July 2005 (UTC)


It is a known fact that the picture in the article is NOT of any rabbi, much less yisrael meir kagan. There is no extant photograph of Yisrael Meir Kagan. The picture is in fact one of a butcher in the town in which R. Kagan lived, who looked similar to him. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Gregor Jones (talkcontribs) 13:36, July 19, 2005.

If you had just stated this here it would have been fine. But your edit on the page (by changing the image caption) is trolling. Go away. JFW | T@lk 19:55, 19 July 2005 (UTC)


I heard from the Chafetz Chaim's great-ganddaughter, who head from hear grnadmother (the Chafetz Chaim's daughter) that this is not a picture of the Chafetz Chaim.—The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 16:35, December 30, 2005.

Yeah, and that it was the shochet. Very nice. Perhaps that granddaughter could also tell us which image is accurate. In the meantime, the image commonly thought to represent him may grace this page. JFW | T@lk 07:11, 1 January 2006 (UTC)
The Artscroll biography of the Chofetz Chaim has a a few real pictures of him. --רח"ק | Talk 23:11, 12 May 2006 (UTC)

Here's an actual picture of the Choffetz chaim....since you people feel so strongly about it, I will not change the photo...I don't have time to quibble....the purported picture of hte chofetz chaim may or may not be the choffetz chaim. Furthermore, there are pictures that unquestionably are the choffetz chaim...why not use those? Whether its his SHamash or his shochet does not really matter. Nor whether he looked LIKE this or not. What matters is that you are uncluding controversial information.

For those that care...please change it.


I agree the factoid that his legal surname was Poupko should be scrapped. He had a son called Tzvi Hirsh Poupko. But I have never seen the Chofetz Chaim himself referred to by that name, and his letterhead (in the Yosher biography) calls him Rabin Kagan; as a Rosh Yeshiva he would have used his legal surname on papers meant for official/governmental purposes. JFW | T@lk 09:13, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

Agreed. I've heard the “Poupko” rumor before, but without serious documentation it shouldn't even be given credence in the article, which is why I removed it. -- Avi 17:32, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

My neighbor is a great-grandson of the Chofetz Chaim. Here is the information he told me, which is verified in a published family tree that is circulating within the Zaks family:

  1. The Chofetz Chaim's name and his father's name was Kagan.
  2. The Chofetz Chaim had four children by his first wife, Frida Miriam Epstein: Gittel, Aryeh Leib, Avraham, and Sara. Sara married Tzvi Hirsh Levinson, which is where JFW might have gotten that name. Avraham died at the age of 25, never having married.
  3. For some reason, only Aryeh Leib called himself Poupko. He had many children, but most of them died leaving no progeny (there is one elderly woman alive today who comes from his line, but otherwise, the line died out).
  4. Rabbi Eliezer Poupko is no relation to this family. (The nearest name that comes close is Aryeh Leib's son, Eliyahu.)
  5. The Chofetz Chaim's second wife was Miriam Frida Schindler. They had one daughter, who married Menachem Mendel Zaks and from whom the majority of living descendants of the Chofetz Chaim come. Yoninah 21:58, 10 June 2006 (UTC)
Y'yasher Kochaych, Yoninah. -- Avi 02:58, 11 June 2006 (UTC)

I have seen "Encyclopedia Judaica, Volume 9, column 1068" quoted as a source for his name to be Poupko. This is not the 1901-1906 Jewish Encyclopedia. I have not actually seen it. Ratzd'mishukribo 20:13, 14 July 2006 (UTC)

Aryeh Leib Poupko, Chofetz Chaim firstborn, had five children: Sonya, Eli, Gittel, Ben-Zion and Shoshana. Sonya, Shoshana and Ben-Zion (my grandfather) still have living descendents. Ben-Zion, his wife Clara and their firstborn daughter Miriam were killed in the holocaust in Auschwitz. Their two sons (Daniel and Raphael) survived and have children and grandchildren living in Israel, still carrying the name Poupko. --Ouri 19:28, 18 February 2007 (UTC)

As mentioned before, when the mother of the Chofetz re-married it was to Halevi Epstein and not to Poupko as mentioned in the article: "Kagan's mother later re-married (Poupko) and moved to Raduń". Kaplan13 (talk) 06:30, 19 July 2010 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Kaplan13 (talkcontribs) 06:23, 19 July 2010 (UTC)


The article contains no information at all on the life of the Chofetz Chaim at all. We read which books he wrote and what's named after him. But when did he found his yeshiva? When did his shop (or his wife's shop) open and close? He was a contemporary of Rabbi Yisrael Salanter, and I recall them working together in Vilna. Etc etc. JFW | T@lk 16:56, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

This article it so bland it could almost have been written by Artscroll or the Chofets Chaim Heritage Foundation. The Chofets Chaim despite his crusade against loshen horo was not averse to politicking and machinations in the appointment of rabbis. Surely there must be material at least for reference if not content for a more wholesome biographical entry. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Freespeech22 (talkcontribs) 18:24, 8 May 2011 (UTC)


i heard that that some say that chofetz chaim made predictions abou the second world war. have anybody heard of that or some sources? thx in advance--Baruch ben Alexander - ☠☢☣ 15:49, 14 March 2008 (UTC)

Rabbi Shimon Schwab wrote about his visit with the Chofetz Chaim in the 20's shortly before his death. In the story, the Chofetz Chaim made some statments which Schwab (writing many years later) interpreted as a prediction of the Holocaust. The story was published in an article printed in the Jewish Observer several years ago. I do not know which edition - but I beleive the whole magazine was dedicated to Loshon Horo and the Chofetz Chaim. You might want to contact the Jewish Observer for more information.Guedalia D'Montenegro (talk) 01:51, 22 August 2008 (UTC)

Recent edits[edit]

A recent edit removed some language from the article because of concerns about "implied loshon horo". This, in my opinion is an innapropriate reason to remove the language. Even in an article about the Chofetz Chaim. I have no objection to the removal of the "offensive" sentance however, since I do not think it detracts from the article. All we need to know is that the business failed and therefor Kagan became an educator full time. I would just like to remind contributors to this article to make edits within wikipedia policy and not because of personal religious assumptions.Guedalia D'Montenegro (talk) 01:51, 22 August 2008 (UTC)

"All we need to know is that the business failed" - yet his NYT obituary states that he closed the business because he didn't think it proper to profit from his reputation at the expense of his competitorsPedantrician (talk) 00:18, 2 September 2010 (UTC)


Should be Israel Meir Kagan according to this. יחסיות האמת (talk) 04:32, 16 January 2009 (UTC)

Excellent point - his own stationery gives his first initial as "I", rather than "Y". I know that changing titles of an article is not trivial. Can someone pick up this ball, please? --Keeves (talk) 12:40, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
The roman alphabet on that page is Polish, not English. -- Avi (talk) 12:44, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
True, but both "I" and "Y" exist in the Polish alphabet. Therefore, if he chose the "I", we should use it too. --Keeves (talk) 15:13, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
But the article title here is English, not Polish. -- Avi (talk) 23:30, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
I guess I didn't explain myself well enough. My point is that if Polish did not have the letter "Y", then his choice of "I" would not teach us anything. But he did have a choice whether to spell his name in Polish with an I or with a Y, and he did choose the I. It seems reasonable to me, therefore, that if he were to write his name in English, he would choose I in this case also. Do you have any reason to think that he would write his name in English with a Y? --Keeves (talk) 15:50, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
Because the name is actually Hebrew (ישראל מאיר), and transliterated, the "י" is a "Y". The name is pronounced "Yisrael". -- Avi (talk) 16:09, 20 February 2009 (UTC)
I am not going to concede to your view. But I am going to give up convincing you of mine. --Keeves (talk) 22:07, 23 February 2009 (UTC)
The Polish 'y' is actually a vowel sound, which is related to the Russian 'u', from the Greek upsilon. This means that that Polish "Israel" is due to a lack of a true consonantal 'y', which the Polish 'i' approximates anyway. ypnypn (talk) 18:48, 4 September 2012 (UTC)

The Chofetz Chaim's expectation of the immediate redemption was so strong that he would always carry special garments to change into once the redemption begins.[edit]

This is very likely an untrue rumour considering the fact that he probably couldn't even afford to own a second pair of clothes. i think a lot these rumours are disclaimed in his son's biography. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:56, 15 August 2012 (UTC)

Requested Move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: Not moved Mike Cline (talk) 15:17, 14 September 2012 (UTC)

Yisrael Meir KaganChofetz Chaim – In accordance with WP:COMMONNAME, I propose using the name Chofetz Chaim, which everyone on this talk page has already been using. A Google Books search for Chofetz Chaim gave about 14,000 results; forYisrael Meir Kagan listed just 338 results. While in his lifetime few people, if any, referred to him as the Chofetz Chaim, the fact is that naming must reflect current usage, as explained by the second to last paragraph of WP:COMMONNAME. ypnypn (talk) 02:10, 4 September 2012 (UTC)

FWIW Hebrew wp has the secular/scholarly bio name he:ישראל מאיר הכהן while Yiddish wp follows devotional/popular/Yeshiva practice by giving the author as yi:חפץ חיים the name of the book. In ictu oculi (talk) 02:45, 4 September 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Might be a common name but it was the name of his first book, not his actual name. This is something we may need to discuss on WT:JEW for consistency, but currently I would be against moving the article. JFW | T@lk 21:57, 4 September 2012 (UTC)
  • I personally think it would be more appropriate for one page to redirect to the other. Chofetz Chaim doesn't give any information that wouldn't be appropriate in Yisrael Meir Kagan. Ba name ba (talk) 02:12, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
@Ba name ba, Hi, but Chofetz Chaim is a substantial book stub, also linking to a more complete book entry in he.wp, we wouldn't normally merge a substantial/notable book into an author who wrote other books. In ictu oculi (talk) 08:11, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

NYT obituary[edit]

user:Debresser reverted my edit about Kagan's belief in the imminent return of Messiah and that he was venerated as a saint, with the explanation that the statements are dubious and an obituary is not a good enough source. NYT, however, would seem to be an RS. As to the factuality of the claims, I'm not competent to judge. Do others agree with Debresser? --Jonund (talk) 17:17, 28 October 2015 (UTC)

To be more precise, I made two points. 1. An obituary is not the best of sources. 2. There are two doubtful statements in that obituary.
  1. The statement that he wanted to become high priest at age 90. In general he was a rather unassuming person. And 90 years is rather old to be a high priest.
  2. The statement that he was seen as one of the 36 Tzadikim Nistarim. A person who is known to be Tzadik, can per definition not be of the 36. Debresser (talk) 21:19, 28 October 2015 (UTC)
But in the messianic era, 90 years is perhaps not a very high age? The article about Tzadikim Nistarim says "In some Hasidic stories, disciples consider their Rebbes and other religious figures to be among the Lamedvavniks. It is also possible for a Lamedvavnik to reveal themselves as such, although that rarely happens—a Lamedvavnik's status as an exemplar of humility would preclude it. More often, it is the disciples who speculate." If so, people may have suspected that Kagan was one of the 36. --Jonund (talk) 18:23, 30 October 2015 (UTC)
Everything is possible. I have stated my reasons. I am now waiting for other editors to comment. Debresser (talk) 16:06, 31 October 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── NYT is a good WP:RS and there should be no issue with that. There is a lot worse nonsense that gets put into pro-Chabad articles from worse sources that Debresser has no problems with. Best wishes, IZAK (talk) 14:51, 12 November 2015 (UTC)

NYT is indeed a good source, but not obituaries.
I ask IZAK to remove his personal attack about Chabad. Now I understand why there is so much bad blood against snags: because of people like IZAK, who try to make others look bad with every thing they say. A shame on the Jewish people you are, IZAK! Debresser (talk) 11:22, 13 November 2015 (UTC)
Why are obituaries in a different class from other content? A newspaper which endeavours to uphold good quality presumably does that in all its departments. --Jonund (talk) 18:56, 18 November 2015 (UTC)
Simple. Because obituaries are written to have emotional appeal, and often exalt the person a little more than they deserve. The are not meant to provide precise details of a person's life, just a general sketch. Debresser (talk) 21:13, 18 November 2015 (UTC)
Such handling of information would seem to cast doubt on the source. To me, it seems improbable that a well-reputed newspaper would allow a lower standard for certain material and accept a norm that emotional appeal may compromise reliability. The question is not about details versus sketch, it's about the accuracy of the information. Providing inaccurate information is, I believe, always high priority for leading newspapers. --Jonund (talk) 17:46, 19 November 2015 (UTC)
Well, we disagree. The question is where we could get some more input. This seems like a subject for WP:RS/N. Debresser (talk) 21:06, 19 November 2015 (UTC)
  • Coming here from RSN. The NYT is a high quality reliable source and is among the best regularly used in Wikipedia articles. There is no policy-based reason to exclude its obituaries. In many years of working on Wikipedia biographies, I've found NYT obituaries to be among the best sources that I've found on a wide range of people. I would be more cautious when using obituaries that are this old, however, as more recent sources may contradict decades-old claims. Gamaliel (talk) 22:11, 19 November 2015 (UTC)
  • Moved here from RSN by Debresser. Locationsaid there: "The source in question appears to be this one:, a 2006 re-posting of the September 16, 1933 obituary of Israel Meir Kagan on someone's blog." Debresser (talk) 16:24, 21 November 2015 (UTC)
The New York Times—including obituaries—is generally considered reliable. But there may be other factors to consider here. First, how do we know whether the blog post is an accurate facsimile of the original NYT article? Has someone checked the paper's archives? Second, are there other sources (i.e. books) that make similar claims? If not, and if there is reason to believe that these are indeed exceptional claims (I'm not sure there is here, but I'm no expert), then it's fair that some additional scrutiny should be applied. Even the best newspapers make mistakes.TheBlueCanoe 04:11, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
The original source can be easily verified by myself or any number of other editors. The complete run of the New York Times is available through ProQuest in many libraries, and I doubt anyone would go to the trouble of photoshopping fake info into an obit when they could be so easily caught. The fact that the information is nearly a century out of date is far more worrisome. Gamaliel (talk) 04:53, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
I don't agree that a good source automatically becomes suspect because of its age. This is not comparable to a science journal, where paradigms shift and theories are discarded in favour of better explanations, and the state of research changes quite much over time. The obituary reports things that could be observed by those who lived at the time. In such a case, the onus of proof is on those who think more recent sources might contradict this one.
Etz Hayim affirms the claim that YMK was regarded as one of the 36 saints. --Jonund (talk) 14:58, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
This is the link for the NYT article: [1]. As well, several other versions from the time period make that claim, [2], [3], [4]--Auric talk 00:57, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
The first of these additional sources says "31 saints whose piety has saved the world". 31? So that is already not a reliable source! The same with the second. That also implies that one of them copied form the other. The third link is not a source, but just a Google search. And none of these source the claim that he wanted to become high priest. Debresser (talk) 13:53, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
I think you're missing the point here. All the sources use 31. Only the NYT article uses 36, giving it a measure of legitimacy. The last link is a link to other articles. It's simpler than linking them all individually.--Auric talk 00:51, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
Well, it should be 36. And we don't need a link to all links (just like we don't need a war to end all wars). :) But I think you are not getting my point, which is that these sources are proven unreliable. Debresser (talk) 12:00, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
The Canadian Jewish Chronicle has it right. The others have apparently made a spelling error. That is a minor mistake, which also reliable sources occasionally do. --Jonund (talk) 15:32, 29 November 2015 (UTC)
Well, okay then, regarding the 36. But the claim that he wanted to become High Priest is not mentioned in these sources. And, is very unlikely, IMHO, as stated above, so should not be added at this stage. Debresser (talk) 15:51, 29 November 2015 (UTC)
What do other editors say about the claim that he wanted to become high priest? Is the NYT obituary good enough, or should we leave that part? --Jonund (talk) 16:49, 5 December 2015 (UTC)
Are we really relying only on contemporary newspaper obituaries for this fact? Do we not have any better or more current sources for this? Sources such as this should be treated with care. Journalism of the time did not necessarily have the strict standards it has today (I am speaking only of mainstream, reputable media, not the Daily Mail.) and did not treat non-Christian religions with respect, thoughtfulness, and accuracy. Gamaliel (talk) 13:57, 15 December 2015 (UTC)
Why do you think journalism had lower standards in the 30s than today? I've never seen information being treated as suspect on such grounds. NYT had long had Jewish owners at that time. --Jonund (talk) 15:15, 17 December 2015 (UTC)
On the claim that he had aspirations to become a high priest, we might consider treating this as an WP:EXCEPTIONAL claim—one which demands more than a single source to authenticate.TheBlueCanoe 17:52, 17 December 2015 (UTC)
I reinserted the part about his status among orthodox Jews by the time of his death, but left out the high priest claim. --Jonund (talk) 12:57, 19 December 2015 (UTC)
Debresser reverted my edit. It seems that we have misunderstood each other. I thought his last comment meant that he accepted the part about one of the 36 saints (for which we have more than one source). Therefore, I reinserted that and left out what he continued to object to. --Jonund (talk) 15:07, 22 December 2015 (UTC)
Please check again. I reverted my revert right away. Debresser (talk) 16:01, 22 December 2015 (UTC)
Thank you! I was notfied through my alerts, which didn't show your latest edit. --Jonund (talk) 13:22, 24 December 2015 (UTC)

The nickname of the Rabbi Kagan[edit]

His Nickname is first and foremost "Hafetz Haim"; "Chofetz" is indeed an Ashkenazic pronounce, but it is secondary to the true Hebrew way of writing his nickname --- Hafetz Haim. The Hebrew word is Hafetz - Ha-Fetz (חפץ). Not Ho-fetz. The pronunciation should be reminded - We are all agree on that, but I suggest considering putting it after the original Hebrew form of his nickname. (talk) 02:50, 30 December 2015 (UTC)

That may indeed be the true Hebrew word and meaning, but this is the English-language Wikipedia; no reason for a Hebrew version to come first. There is no question that Chofetz is the dominant, most popular spelling in English sources. Also, the lead should summarize the article. I believe Rabbi Kagan would have spoken Ashenazic Hebrew (and Yiddish), making the Chofetz transliteration authentic. I hope my edit, changing the sequence, will be an acceptable resolution. Hertz1888 (talk) 03:24, 30 December 2015 (UTC)
Hello User:Hertz1888! Thanks for your edit! Since it mentioned the most accurate form of the Hebrew writing right on start of the article (after the popular the Ashkenazic form pronounce), I think it was a good edit and I agree with it as it is. Ben-Yeudith (talk) 05:21, 30 December 2015 (UTC)
You have to love those arrogant new editors, who think they know best. I am fine with Hertz1888's edit as well. Debresser (talk) 12:43, 30 December 2015 (UTC)
Said the arrogant. You would do well respecting other editors, whether you consider them "New" or not. Ben-Yeudith (talk) 21:56, 30 December 2015 (UTC)