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One day at harvest time, according to William of Newburgh during the reign of King Stephen (1135–1154), the villagers of Woolpit discovered two children, a brother and sister, beside one of the wolf pits that gave the village its name. Their skin was green, they spoke an unknown language, and their clothing was unfamiliar. Ralph reports that the children were taken to the home of Richard de Calne. Ralph and William agree that the pair refused all food for several days until they came across some raw beans, which they consumed eagerly.[c] The children gradually adapted to normal food and in time lost their green colour. The boy, who appeared to be the younger of the two, became sickly and died shortly after he and his sister were baptised.
After learning to speak English, the children – Ralph says just the surviving girl – explained that they came from a land where the sun never shone and the light was like twilight. William says the children called their home St Martin's Land; Ralph adds that everything there was green. According to William, the children were unable to account for their arrival in Woolpit; they had been herding their father's cattle when they heard a loud noise (according to William, the bells of Bury St Edmunds) and suddenly found themselves by the wolf pit where they were found. Ralph says that they had become lost when they followed the cattle into a cave and, after being guided by the sound of bells, eventually emerged into our land.
This Ben-Chouchan spent his nights on a bench on the upper deck of the ship, bundled up in his coat against the night chill. “The man is unkempt in his outward appearance, dressed in rags, and at first glance you would not give a penny for him,” Giladi wrote. But those who got to know Ben-Chouchan noticed at once that he was no ordinary man. “This is a Torah scholar, the likes of which there are not many, who swims like a champion swimmer in the sea of the Talmud, the midrashim, the earliest and later [biblical] commentators and external sciences,” added Giladi. “His knowledge flows like a fountainhead, and his strange midrashim astound the ears and hearts of his listeners, and his speech is fluent in multiple languages. And if an erudite person is said to be a ‘prodigy,’ then such a one is said to be a ‘genius.’”
“People who met him talk about him as if he were the prophet Elijah. Some say he was an angel, others - a devil. But nobody remained indifferent. This strange Jewish genius became a legend,” explained Tel Aviv-based filmmaker Michael Grynszpan last week.
Adding to the puzzlement surrounding him, “Mr. Chouchan” was apparently in the habit of vanishing and popping up, each time in a new place. Wiesel wrote: “Suddenly he would appear, and then vanish a month or a year later, without leaving a trace. He would accidentally be discovered on the other side of a border … A businessman, a prophet who was dispatched, quite a number of times he went around the world without money, without papers, no one knew how.” Wiesel, too, described the man’s shabby appearance: “He was always filthy, unkempt and dressed in rags. He resembled a vagabond-turned-clown.”
His origins are completely unknown, and his gravestone (located in Montevideo, Uruguay, where he died in January 1968) reads, "The wise Rabbi Chouchani of blessed memory. His birth and his life are sealed in enigma." The text is by Elie Wiesel who paid for this gravestone. The name "Shushani," which means "person from Shushan," is most probably an allegorical reference, or possibly a pun. Elie Wiesel hypothesizes that Chouchani's real name was Mordechai Rosenbaum, while Hebrew University professor Shalom Rosenberg asserts that Chouchani's actual name was Hillel Perlmann.
Although there is no known body of works by Chouchani himself, there is a very strong intellectual legacy seen in the influence on his pupils. By all accounts, Chouchani had the appearance of a vagabond and yet was reputed to be a master of vast areas of human knowledge, including science, mathematics, philosophy and especially the Talmud. Most of the biographical details of Chouchani's life are known from the works and interviews of his various students, as well as anecdotes of people whom he encountered during his lifetime. Chouchani appeared in Paris after the Second World War, where he taught between the years of 1947 and 1952. He disappeared for a while after that, evidently spent some time in the newly formed state of Israel, returned to Paris briefly, and then left for South America where he lived until his death
A General History introduced many features which later became common in pirate literature, such as pirates with missing legs or eyes, the myth of pirates burying treasure, and the name of the pirates flag the Jolly Roger. The author specifically cites two pirates as having named their flag Jolly Roger, (named after the first Pirate and his crew); Welsh pirate Bartholomew Roberts in June, 1721, and English pirate Francis Spriggs in December 1723. In giving an almost mythical status to the more colourful characters, such as the infamous English pirates Blackbeard and Calico Jack, the book provided the standard account of the lives of many people still famous in the 21st century, and influenced pirate literature of Robert Louis Stevenson and J.M.Barrie.
The book was released in two volumes. The first mostly deals with early 18th-century pirates, while volume II records the exploits of their predecessors a few decades earlier. In the first volume "Johnson" sticks fairly close to the available sources, though he embellishes the stories somewhat. He stretches the truth farther in the second volume, and includes the biographies of three subjects who may be entirely fictional. The book has been hugely influential in shaping popular notions of piracy.
Sign! if the next moment the gibbet’s rope is round your neck! Sign! if the next moment this hall rings with the echo of the falling axe! Sign! By all your hopes in life or death, as husbands — as fathers — as men — sign your names to the Parchment or be accursed forever!