Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Language of the Heart

Parashat VaYigash

Bereishit 44:18 "...May your servant say something into the ear of my master."

With these words Yehudah began his request to Yosef. He wanted to ask for amnesty, and therefore he wanted to speak directly to Yosef and not through an interperter. However, it would seem that they did not know each other's speech. Beforehand, all the conversations between them were communicated through an interperter. How, then, did Yehudah expect to make himself understood to Yosef without an interperter?

The Gaon of Brisk said that this question recalls a story about the Chofetz Chaim who once appeared before the Prime Minister of Poland to request cancellation of a decree from the Polish Ministry of Education which was very troubling to all the Torah leaders at the time. The words of the Chofetz Chaim flowed from his warm and pure heart as he spoke to the gentile Prime Minister in Yiddish. In the midst of speaking the Chofetz Chaim became very emotional and he began to cry.

One of those who accompanied the Chofetz Chaim arose to translate, but the Prime Minister signalled him to be quiet and said, "It is not necessary. Although I did not understand a word, he has convinced me because these words came from his heart."

The language of the heart is understood in every language. It does not need elaboration or translation. It was with this language that Yehudah wanted to convince Yosef.

-Ma'alot Hamidot