The National Library of Israel (NLI) has received and has now opened public access to singularly significant archival materials from "Mr. Shushani" (also known as "Monsieur Chouchani"), a mysterious and brilliant man who served as the personal and perhaps most influential teacher to a number of significant 20th century Jewish cultural and intellectual figures, including Elie Wiesel and Emmanuel Levinas.

Shushani had an extraordinary photographic memory, and was reportedly able to recall and cite the entire Hebrew Bible, Talmud and many other Jewish texts from memory, while also mastering various fields of mathematics, physics, modern philosophy and different languages. The disheveled figure attracted students who were captivated by his unexpected charisma. Many of them saw him as one of the most influential figures in their intellectual development.

The notebooks are full of thoughts and musings, concrete ideas in the realms of Jewish thought and other fields, memory exercises, mathematical formulas and more. Extremely difficult to decipher, a handful of scholars have been given access to some of the writings in recent years and they will now be open to the general public for the first time. Scholars believe that the notebooks will reveal some potentially groundbreaking ideas and teachings related to Jewish thought and texts.

Shushani zealously guarded his true identity and few details about his personal life are known today, more than fifty years after his death. Born in the Russian Empire at the turn of the twentieth century, throughout his life he traveled as a vagabond around the world: in Europe, Mandatory Palestine and later Israel, the United States, Uruguay and other countries. During his travels he left a tremendous impression on his numerous students.... Read More: Arutz-7