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Who Wants to Live

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Who Wants to Live

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Who Wants to Live
Meshalim and Masterwords of the Chofetz Chayim
Collected and Edited by Mendel Weinbach
Shma Yisroel Program and Publications, 1973

Reviewed by Israel Drazin - November 1, 2010

Rabbi Yisrael Meir Hacohen (1838-1933) is known as The Chofetz Chaim, the name of his best-known book. The title was drawn from Psalm 34, "Who is the man that desires life and loves to enjoy happiness for many days? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from deceitful speech." The Hebrew for "desires life" is Chofetz Chayim, the name he gave his book. The volume was so impactful that many synagogues today teach selections from it in special classes. Also, parts of it have been collected in pamphlets and distributed to people to inspire them to stop slandering.

But this was not the only book that the rabbi wrote, nor was it his only interest. Weinbach has collected for his volume 101 meshalim, parables, and masterwords, pithy sayings. The following are some samples of these sayings; the stories are more than a page long and unsuitable for quoting because of their length.

People like to say "Time is Money" but I say that "Money is Time" and every luxury costs so many precious hours of your life.

So you want me to bless your grandson that he may be a pious Jew? Do you think piety can be gained with a blessing? You have to work hard for it.

With faith there are no questions without it there are no answers.

A man must be made of iron and immovable as a wall but if he is like a door which can swing this way or the other nothing can become of him.

Silence is an art.

People complain that their wages leave them "nothing to live on" and I ask them "Do you have anything to die on?"

Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of seventeen books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he co-authors with Dr. Stanley M. Wagner, and a series of four books on the twelfth century philosopher Moses Maimonides. The Orthodox Union (OU) and Yeshiva University publish weekly chapters of Drazin and Wagner's book Let's Study Onkelos on and on His website is

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