This post is dedicated
To R Reuven Mann,
To R Eliyahu Safran and
To Mel Reichert
whom I believe first related this story to me - enjoy!
Once Upon a time R Yerucham Gorelick [RYG] was appointed to be the young Rab in small town in Poland. RYG himself hailed from Lita and apparently the societies were different enough. And following the death of one of Poland's leaders. RYG was asked to be Maspid him. [For the sake of the simplicity - let's presume that it was Marshal Pilsudski who was the Polish leader and someone who was somewhat fair to Jews *]
• RYG's Polish was weak
• His personal knowledge of the niftar was weak
• His comfort level at sharing the podium with Gentile strangers and clergy was very low
And so RYG started out by boldly proclaiming: "MARSHALL PILSUDSKI". Then he repeated it over and over as he began weeping only to finally brake down dumbfounded!
The Poles ate it up! They supposedly remarked it was the most moving eulogy they could remember.
Such a display of feelings trumped any eloquent speeches!
* Józef Piłsudski
Widely recognized for his opposition to the National Democrats antisemitic policies, he extended his policy of "state-assimilation" to Polish Jews. The years 1926–35, and Piłsudski himself, were favorably viewed by many Polish Jews whose situation improved especially under Piłsudski-appointed Prime Minister Kazimierz Bartel. Many Jews saw Piłsudski as their only hope for restraining antisemitic currents in Poland and for maintaining public order; he was seen as a guarantor of stability and a friend of the Jewish people, who voted for him and actively participated in his political bloc. Piłsudski's death in 1935 brought a deterioration in the quality of life of Poland's Jews.