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Monsieur Chouchani (Top 10 Mysterious People)

Monsieur Chouchani

Monsieur Chouchani

Monsieur Chouchani (died 1968) is the nickname of an anonymous and mysterious Jewish teacher who taught a number of highly regarded students including Emmanual Levinas (pictured above) and Elie Wiesel in Europe after World War II. Very little is known about Chouchani, including his real name. His origins and entire life history were kept a closely guarded secret. His gravestone in Montevideo, Uraguay where he died reads: “The wise Rabbi Chouchani of blessed memory. His birth and his life are sealed in enigma.” The text was written by Elie Wiesel who also paid for the gravestone.

There is no known body of work by Chouchani himself, but he left a very strong intellectual legacy via his students. Chouchani dressed like a vagabond but was a master of vast areas of human knowledge, including science, mathematics, philosophy and especially the Talmud. Most of the details of his life that are known come from the writings and interviews with his students.