The Language of the Beast

The chassid R. Gershon Ber of Pahar was a remarkable individual. He had an incredible grasp of Chassidic thought, and was extremely concise in his speech.

Though a great Torah scholar who surely understood the meaning of the prayers, it was his custom to translate his prayers into his mother tongue of Yiddish.

He once asked the rabbi of the city of Chernigov, R. Peretz Chein,whether he was permitted to translate his prayers in the places of prayer where it is forbidden to interrupt with speaking.

Perplexed, the Rabbi inquired as to why the venerable scholar R. Gershon Ber would translate his prayers at all.

R. Gershon Ber responded: “My animal soul understands better in Yiddish.”

When the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, R. Yosef Yitzchak, recounted this story, he remarked: “This is truly the essence of prayer: to speak in the language of the animal soul, and to explain to it the greatness of G-d in the language that can be understood in human intellect.”

(Sefer HaSichos 5703, pg. 42)


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