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Friday, January 13, 2017

Insight 5777-16: Communication

For Vayechi
Not yet available on the Nishma website

As an illustration of this issue, I would like to share this story of the Chafetz Chaim.
In the city in which Rabbi Elchanan Wasserman, a foremost student of the Chafetz Chaim, was the Rav, there was a wealthy man who wanted to meet the Chafetz Chaim. This man asked Rav Elchanan to try and arrange this, which he was happy to do. The man then went to Rodin to spend some time in the company of the Chafetz Chaim.

Upon this man's return to his home, Rav Elchanan asked him all about his trip and what he learned about the Chafetz Chaim. The man replied that, in truth, he was really impressed with the Chafetz Chaim's son for anytime he wanted to speak you could see the struggle within him as whether this would be proper or not. As for the Chafetz Chaim, though, he just talked to everyone without any hesitation. He didn't see any specialness in his behaviour.

Rav Elchanan then asked the man whether, in all the time he was with the Chafetz Chaim and in the all the conversations which he overheard, he ever heard the Chafetz Chaim say anything incorrect. The man thought and replied that he did not. Now, Rav Elchanan said, you understand the true greatness of the Chafetz Chaim: he can communicate with all in a manner that looks absolutely normal but he also, at the same time, maintained the highest ethical standards.

Indeed, Rav Elchanan said, the Chafetz Chaim's son is a great man for he understood the challenge of communication and always tried to do what was right. He, though, was still not the Chafetz Chaim who had internalized in his being the answer to this challenge.