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Dec. 11, 2017 - 23 Kislev 5778
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Section: Stories   Category: Story Corner
The Chofetz Chaim's Articulate Polish
In one of the last years of the Chofetz Chaim’s life, the Polish government decreed that every Rav was required to learn the Polish language.  In light of the decree, the Chofetz Chaim called for a meeting of Poland’s eminent Rabannim.  At the meeting, the Chofetz Chaim declared that this decree could cause the churban of Torah. The Rabannim decided that it was necessary to arrange a meeting with the President of Poland to attempt to annul the decree.  The Chofetz Chaim let it be known that he himself would travel to meet with the President, and several Rabbanim agreed to accompany him.  Rav Leib, the Chofetz Chaim’s shamash, accompanied him to the meeting in Warsaw, and later told over the story of what had occurred there.    
    
The Rabbanim traveled to Warsaw for the meeting, and the Chofetz Chaim was presented as the Chief Rabbi.  The members of the Polish government were astounded that that such a feeble man, who was almost unable to walk, was the Chief Rabbi.  The Chofetz Chaim began to speak in Yiddish.  “Our Torah says to daven for the welfare of the kingdom.  We’re living now in galus under the rule of Poland, and every day after davening, I daven for the welfare of the Polish government.  We came here now to discuss the decree that every Rav must know Polish.  We are sure that this will be the churban of Yahadus. If the government of Poland does not interfere with our Yiddishkeit, we submit completely to your rule, and will pay all your taxes. But we are obligated to guard our Yiddishkeit as we see fit.  If you interfere with our Yiddishkeit, you’ll experience a downfall like all our enemies suffered in all the generations, beginning from Pharaoh the Rasha.”
    
The Chofetz Chaim finished speaking, and the translator’s face paled.  How could he possibly translate what the Chofetz Chaim said?  On the other hand, he was afraid to change the words of the Chofetz Chaim, because he knew that the Chofetz Chaim had ruach hakodesh and would surely realize that his words were not translated accurately.  But if he would translate exactly what the Chofetz Chaim said, he could not imagine the repercussions!  As he was still pondering what to do and say, the President of Poland arose and said to him, “You can sit down, you don’t need to translate a word; just tell me in essence what he wants.”
    
The translator hurried to say that the Chofetz Chaim is requesting to annul the decree on the Rabannim to learn Polish.  The President answered, “There are many languages in the world, and one who speaks Polish may not know English, and one who speaks English may not know Polish, but there is one language which everybody understands, and that is the language of the heart.  The Rav spoke with the language of the heart.  There is no need to translate, I understood everything.”  He immediately sat down and signed a paper canceling the decree.    (Shaal Avicha Veyegadcha)
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