Chofetz Chaim Biography
Rabbi Israel Meir HaCohen Kagan is commonly known as the "Chafetz
the name of his famous work on guarding one's tongue. Born in
Poland on February 6, 1838, he was taught untill age 10 by his
then moved to Vilna to further his Jewish studies. Refusing the
rabbinate, the Chafetz Chaim settled in Radin (Poland) and subsisted
small grocery store which his wife managed and he did the
"bookkeeping"-watching every penny to make sure that
no one was cheated.
He spent his days learning Torah and disseminating his knowledge
As his reputation grew, students from all over
flocked to him and by 1869 his house became known as the Radin
addition to his Yeshiva, the Chafetz Chaim was very active in
causes. He traveled extensively (even in his 90s!) to encourage
observance of Mitzvos amongst Jews. One of the founders of Agudas
the religious Jewish organizaion of Europe and later the world,
Chafetz Chaim was very involved in Jewish affairs and helped many
survive the financial problems of the interwar period. Exemplifying
verses in Psalms 34:13-14, "Who is the man who desires life...?
your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit,"
Chaim passed away in 1933 at the ripe age of 95.
The Chafetz Chaim's greatest legacy is the 21 sefarim (holy books)
he published. His first work, Sefer Chafetz Chaim (1873), is
attempt to to organize and clarify the laws regrding evil talk
He later wrote other works, including Shmirat HaLashon, which
the importance of guarding one's tongue by quoting our Sages.
Brurah (1894-1907), his commentary on the Daily Laws of a Jew
series in the Shulchan Aruch), is found in many Jewish homes and
accepted universally to decide Halacha.
Firmly believing that
living right before the time of Moshiach and the rebuilding of
Temple, the Chafetz Chaim wrote a work that stressed the learning
concerning sacrifices, the Holy Temple, and related topics. He
published seforim to strengthen certain aspects of Jewish life
kashrus, family purity, and Torah study.