He has trouble seeing, but as one who has repeated the prayers for more than a century, he knows them by heart. David Pur, age 115, continues to learn Torah and to pray every day, now in the nursing home to where he moved just three months ago.
Pur will soon be visited by an envoy of the Guinness Book of World Records – an event much anticipated by the rest of his family. Three of his nine children are still alive, as are 18 grandchildren and 56 great-grandchildren, all of whom are waiting with excitement for the envoy to formalize his title.
“I have had plenty of time to memorize the Biblical writings,” he said. He prays every morning while standing next to Moshe, who has just turned 100, and who Pur says sometimes seems lost – but is guided by his older friend.
Born in 1895 in what was then Persia and today is Iran, Pur became an adviser to the Shah, who admired his mastery of languages, including Persian, Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic and French. He later added Tagalog, a language spoke in the Philippines, while learning to care for Filipinos. He and his family made aliyah to Israel in 1948.
Pur still listens to the news of the day on radio and television, and discusses current events with his grandson, IDF Gen. Yoav Mordechai, who says, “We must be strong with the regime of the ayatollahs and not fear them.” Pur's 70-year-old son Salim, who often accompanies him, comments that his father solves everything with a smile, and says wistfully, “I wish I could be like him.”
The old man is known for his smiles and for laughing and joking with the various members of his large family, who visit him daily. “The main thing is not to lose your optimism,” he said. “I, who buried the woman of my life 50 years ago, and six of my children – I understand that we must not let bitterness take hold of us.”
He rejected a potential remarriage ten years ago, when the 80-year-old doctor with whom he was close tried to suggest a new wife for him. Politely apologizing, Pur told his friend, “Sorry, no woman can replace my deceased wife.”
For nearly 110 years he smoked, but he says the damage was minimized because he “never swallowed the smoke.” At breakfast, he drinks a glass of brandy and eats nuts. “It is best not to eat on [from on-the-street establishments],” he advises, “because who knows when they change the oil, and you could unknowingly swallow poison. I avoid meat and fried foods, and eat as many fruits and vegetables as possible."
A new study conducted by researchers at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, the medical clinic at the Nuclear Research Center in Dimona and Soroka Medical Center, has backed up what the world's oldest living man already knows. The findings, published in the current issue of Circulation, the leading medical journal of the American Heart Association, revealed that weight loss achieved through a Mediterranean diet was able to reverse carotid atherosclerosis.