The Rubashkin Case
Having written previously about the plights of Sholom Rubashkin and Jonathan Pollard, and in light of the comments by the editor, herein, last week about the Rubashkin case (“Analyzing Rubaskin,” December 29), I would like to try to put these cases in proper perspective. The similarity in the two cases, as the editor correctly noted, was not only that both men received sentences well in excess of their punishments, but also the fact that the freedom of these two men was wrought not through the combined collaboration or efforts of man, but solely through the intervention of Divine forces above.
Let it be clear, that once the U.S. government dabbles in treachery and decides to subject a Jew to unfair and disparaging treatment, it is almost impossible to reverse. Jonathan Pollard was denied parole and was scheduled to be denied again, when the opportunity suddenly arose for President Obama to attempt to appease the State of Israel into accepting a nuclear deal that was contrary to its interests. Jonathan Pollard was conveniently placed on the table as an appetizer. As the Al-mighty G-d controls the minds and hearts of kings, at the time that President Obama decided that he would “throw in” Pollard into the Iranian nuclear arms deal, he may have been unaware of the fact that it was the State of Israel itself that had originally turned its back on the convicted Jewish spy or had not adequately understood its possible significance or portent.
As far as Sholom Rubashkin is concerned, he himself exited prison spouting all over about nissim and how his attorneys kept getting “denied” and “denied” so that everybody would know that when he finally was let out of prison that it was not by a malach, a seraph, or even a Jewish lawyer, but undeniably by the hand of G-d. Obama’s callous refusal to even address the issue of Rubashkin’s wildly disproportionate sentence, let alone his refusal to grant him clemency, was not missed on any of us. There is little reason to believe that Hillary Clinton would have been any better, given her husband’s prior refusal to even “discuss Pollard,” as the editor also described herein, as well as her own record of having “no love lost” for the Jewish people. So perhaps we ought to tell special prosecutor Robert Mueller to halt his investigation because it has now become increasingly clear that it was Hashem—not the Russians—who manipulated this election.
Even in other perhaps less-publicized cases involving other Jews, like Alan Gross, the subcontractor who was held by Cuba on trumped up charges for five years, or Jacob Ostreicher, the American Jew who was arrested in Bolivia, we see a clear lesson that we should not place our faith in the hands of the American government when it comes to the redemption of a captive Jew. The original precedent for this was clearly set by Joseph in Egypt who was anointed to the positon of viceroy after he was suddenly freed by Pharaoh so that there would be no way of mistaking the fact that it was solely the One Above Who was responsible for granting his freedom.
It is further interesting to note that both Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin had viable Constitutional claims that were never even brought by their lawyers, which gives further credence to the fact that the events were being orchestrated from above. Jonathan Pollard’s guilty plea was sabotaged by rabid anti-Israel prosecutor Joseph Digenova who solicited Defense Minister Caspar Weinberger and certain State Department officials to inflame the judge to the point that he paid no attention to the deal given to Pollard and imposed a life sentence. In the Rubashkin case, as Professor Alan Dershowitz pointed out to President Trump, the government, after the arrest of Sholom Mordechai, engaged in intimidating practices. The federal raid lowered the value of Agriprocessors upon sale and decreased Rubashkin’s ability to pay back the loans to the bank which in turn made Rubashkin eligible for a greater sentence.
The actions of members of the Justice Department and the Federal Judiciary in both cases could have easily given rise to Eighth Amendment claims of “Cruel and Unusual Punishment” but such a claim was never brought by any of Pollard’s or Rubashkin’s lawyers. In the case of Pollard, his initial lawyer, Richard Hibey, a Lebanese national who sympathized with the Palestinian cause and who was paid by Israel to defend Pollard, neglected to even file a notice of appeal for Pollard, rendering him unable to challenge what was done to him in a timely fashion.
If there is one thing that we all should learn about the Rubashkin case it is about the extraordinary power of teshuvah to overturn a gezeirah. Like Sholom Mordechai stated immediately upon his release when he visited 770, “It’s like one second you are a federal prisoner, and the next second the guards come over and tell you get out, get out.” Everything has a reason as it says in Mishlei, and that also includes when a Jew is sent to prison under seemingly unfair circumstances. We should therefore be cautious against overcelebrating or against making anybody who has spent more than their share of time in prison an instant “hero,” because as much as we would like to know the reasons for everything, we are not privy to Hashem’s calculations.
Anybody who is possessed of even a moderate amount of seichel and who has learned Masechta Sotah 4a, where the Gemara goes on and on about the travails of arrogance, will be able to glean a satisfactory level of understanding as to why things like this may occur. While it may be a bit unfortunate that mussar and its study may not be elevated to the proper levels on a widespread basis that are necessary for the olam to be able to greet the news about a personal geulah with the level of equanimity and solemnity which it deserves; nevertheless, the level of achdus and simcha which was made manifest from the redemption of a single Jew should give us all the power to parlay that simcha into that which is necessary to achieve the most important geulah of all—the final redemption. May it happen speedily and in our days.
Dismayed By Statement
The signing of a statement of dismay over President Trump’s declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel by Jess Olson, associate director for the Center for Israel Studies at Yeshiva University, is a disgrace and an affront to all Jews.
Olson makes the fallacious argument that “the decision by the Trump administration has likely inflicted a mortal injury to the possibility” of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. “Mortal injury” to what? With the Palestinians showing time and time again that peace is not even on their agenda, Olson’s statement is like saying that hitting a dead horse lessens the chances of the horse winning the Kentucky Derby.
Olson says that Trump’s decision “has likely put the dream of the world community’s support of Israel with Jerusalem as its capital even farther out of reach.”
Anyone who has dreams like this must be on some serious medication. This is more of a pipe dream. The UN, in its corrupt history, has managed to get enough support from the world community to single out Israel for condemnation more than any other nation—all before Trump’s decision! The world community is obviously nowhere near supporting Israel for anything. How would not declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel change this? The only time in modern history that Israel got widespread respect and support was in 1967, when it won a miraculous military victory over its enemies.
We have to stop deluding ourselves into thinking that giving up what belongs to us will get us world support. Let the world show us their support first, then we can think of what we’re willing to give up.
Ironically, Olson says Trump’s “decision [was] made in haste, with inadequate consideration of the broader implications.” What’s interesting is that this is exactly what Olson has done. Olson’s signing that statement of dismay, despite his claim that he believes Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, sent a message to the students of an Orthodox Jewish university that it’s okay to lend support to all the anti-Semites who use anti-Israel rhetoric to camouflage their anti-Semitic sentiments, and it’s also okay to disagree with the Torah.
For Yeshiva University not to see fit to take a strong stance against Olson’s action in order to undo his shameful offense to the Jewish people and its values would be tantamount to Yeshiva University being complicit in Olson’s inappropriate behavior.
Another Approach To A Difficult She’eilah
Thank you, Rabbi Ginzberg, for sharing that sensitive she’eilah of the son of a coma patient who is also the loving father of a family, as well as the inspiring story of Rav Shteinman, zt’l (“Bringing An End To Galus Edom,” December 22).
I’d like to add one more angle to this sensitive she’eilah: We have a mesorah from the Sefer Chasidim (para-710) that the neshamos of the niftarim appreciate when their graves are visited occasionally, and we pray for them, and such is our minhag to visit the graves of niftarim, and daven for them.
If that’s true of a neshamah that has already left its body, certainly a neshamah that is still alive and connected would appreciate the visit and prayers said by his bed.
Not to mention that medical science has certainly not proven beyond doubt that the patient does not subconsciously physically appreciate the visit.
Making Shidduchim Easier
I think that there should be a revolution in shidduchim. People should be able to have a binder of a hundred guys or a hundred girls and choose who they want. Each profile should have ten pictures and a video or audio so people can get a good idea of who they are dating. This can make people get married a lot faster and be a lot more satisfied with their marriages.
The way things are now people often have to date 10 or 20 girls before they find a girl that they like. My suggestion can make people get married in weeks instead of months.
Additionally, there should be more social events for singles, and if people meet a lot of other people at a singles event, it’s likely that they can find someone they like who would be a good match for them. People can often decide if someone is their type or not in seconds.
If there were more singles events it would maybe solve the shidduch crisis. Thank you for publishing my letter and improving the lives of your readers.