Saved Through Wisdom
The living conditions in the small Jewish settlement in Eretz Yisroel, during the time of the World War I, was very difficult. The draft law which the Turks, who then ruled Palestine passed, made matters worse. Being conscripted was a one-way journey, for no Jew who was taken into the Turkish army returned home.
The Gaon Rav Chaim Leib Auerbach, zt”l, the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Shar Hashomayim, sought to find a solution to this predicament. After some investigation, he discovered that the Turks do not draft citizens of foreign countries, and decided that he must obtain foreign passports for as many eligible Jewish males as possible. He met with one of the officials at the Iranian Consulate. This lead to a meeting with the Ambassador. The Ambassador was noticeably impressed by Rav Chaim Leib’s sharp mind. After several encounters, Rav Chaim Leib was appointed as the Ambassador’s personal secretary.
Now, Rav Chaim Leib was able to arrange for Iranian passports to be granted to seventy men, thus saving them from certain death.
Yet obstacles arose. Someone informed the Turks, about what happened, and they immediately dispatched officers to arrest him. Rav Chaim Leib went unto hiding, but after a couple of days, when the Turks threatened to murder his wife and children, he decided to report to the authorities, certain that Hashem will not forsake him.
At the military courthouse, the atmosphere was solemn. Jamil Pasha himself would be presiding over this case, and his hatred for the Jews was no secret. One of the judges read the accusation aloud, and then asked Rav Chaim Leib if he had anything to say in his defense.
“These people are indeed Iranian citizens, and the passports are authentic,” Rav Chaim Leib announced.
Hearing this, Jamil Pasha jumped up in fury, “Liar! How can you claim that they are Iranians? They’re all white-skinned, and you know very well that the Iranians are darker!”
Rav Chaim Leib didn’t flinch, and responded with confidence. “Your highness, let me explain. You know how terrible the Russians are, and how badly they treat their Jewish soldiers. (The Turks were at war with Russia.) So what did many Jewish women do? When their time for giving birth drew near, they crossed the border to Iran, had their babies there, and thus their children were born Iranians and not Russians, and they are free from Russian rule…”
Jamil Pasha listened to this fabricated explanation, and exclaimed, “Listen, I know that you’re lying; But it’s a sin to bury a head like yours, so get out of here…”
The joy that enveloped the Jewish Quarter was immense; With his ingenious mind, Rav Chaim Leib had saved his own life, along with the lives of seventy other Jews!