Did A Rare Photo Of The Chafetz Chaim Surface?

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The internet is buzzing over a photo that was recently discovered and may be a photo of the Chofetz Chaim Z”L.

Approximately three years ago YWN published a never seen before video of the Chofetz Chaim crossing the street on his way to the First World Congress (Knessia Gedolah) of the World Agudath Israel – the first major gathering of all the different sects of Klal Yisroel which took place in Vienna starting from Elul 3, 5683 / August 15, 1923 and which lasted for ten days.

The footage shook the Jewish world who watched it with great enthusiasm.

Recently a photo has surfaced which is being claimed as showing the Chofetz Chaim wrapped in his Tallis and Tefillin, and learning from a Sefer. According to online reports, the photographer of the picture was Rav Alexander Sender Linchner.

As a young American Yeshiva student, he was one of the few American Bochrim to study at the great Yeshivos of Eastern Europe before the Holocaust. During the course of his studies at the Yeshiva at Radin, Poland, he came under the direct, personal influence of the Chofetz Chaim.

In the 1930’s of Europe, very few private citizens owned a camera. It was an expensive tool that was most often only in the possession of professionals. But in the U.S. Kodak was able to create an inexpensive line of cameras called “brownie”. The cost of the camera was only one dollar. This is how they became popular enough to sell a million cameras. The claim is that R’ Linchner was able to bring one of these cameras from the United States and thus took a photo of the Chofetz Chaim.

He was a devoted disciple of Harav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz, who later became his father-in-law when he married his oldest daughter. He later went on to found “Boys Town Jerusalem”. He was Niftar in 1997, and his wife was Niftar in October of 2017 at the age of 104.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)




15 COMMENTS

  1. Like refoelzeev says…also a higher resolution photo of this was uploaded to wikipedia in 2012 and versions of it seem to have been around on blogs for years before that even. Still I haven’t been able to find the photographer credited anywhere so perhaps now we know that.

  2. “[cameras were] an expensive tool that was most often only in the possession of professional cameras”. Please do a little proof-reading.

    Also, at what point do we cross into avodah zarah by clamoring over pictures of gedolim?

  3. I am privileged to serve in my current position as EX VP of the Boys Town Jerusalem Foundation of America since 1985. It was a great zchus to have worked under Rabbi Alexander Linchner z”l from 1985 until his p’tirah in 1997. Rabbi Linchner told me the details of how he managed to take this picture of the Chofetz Chaim zt”l with his Brownie camera. Rabbi Linchner reproduced this famed picture large size and distributed freely with countless people. In particular, just about anyone who visited Boys Town received a copy with a detailed explanation of the greatness the Chofetz Chaim. The Chofetz Chaim had a major impact on Rabbi Linchner, to the extent that he would tell people that it was the Chofetz Chaim who “founded” Boys Town Jerusalem since the school was built on the principles of the teachings of the Chofetz Chaim and a special emphasis on Ahavas Yisroel and Torah im Derech Eretz.

  4. “Also, at what point do we cross into avodah zarah by clamoring over pictures of gedolim?”
    Pardon me for saying if I am mistaken, but I think the posuk (ישעיה פרק ל) addresses your question when it states והיו עיניך ראות את מוריך.

  5. “Pardon me for saying if I am mistaken, but I think the posuk (ישעיה פרק ל) addresses your question when it states והיו עיניך ראות את מוריך.”

    I pardon you, but you are mistaken. Ironically, that perek discusses how b’nei yisrael will stray after false idols and will be attacked by their enemies, and then will be forgiven…. “וְלֹא-יִכָּנֵף עוֹד מוֹרֶיךָ, וְהָיוּ עֵינֶיךָ רֹאוֹת אֶת-מוֹרֶיךָ.” … ” and your Teacher shall no longer be concealed from you, and your eyes shall see your Teacher.” Rashi and others explain that מוֹרֶיךָ is referring to Hashem. Malbim does explain it as referring to a Navi, but explains it as following in the path that he sets out – nothing to do with physically looking at him.

    In short, there is no implication that this is referring to physical pictures of a human being, and the simple explanation seems to be that it is referring to Hashem.

  6. The picture is a well known picture. But the News here is the source of the picture. The Director of the Living Torah Museum claims that the more famous picture is not him. The video and this picture both seem to prove him wrong. The picture he has is totally different. BTW I downloaded this picture and printed it and framed it. It now stands on my desk. Thank you TYW