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November 2009
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12 posts from December 2009

This place belongs to you

Sm558_1 You're looking at the world's oldest mailbox. This is the holy Kotel, the Western Wall and last remnant of our Beis HaMikdash, the holy Temple where prayers ascend to the Heavenly Throne.

Did you realize that you are a multimillionaire? Yes, you are a full shareholder in this precious piece of real estate. Come stake your claim, for this place belongs to you.

While you're at the Kotel - or wherever you are - please pray for our beloved brothers in captivity, Yehonatan ben Malka (Jonathan Pollard) and Gilead ben Aviva [Shalit]. Also don't forget our cherished brothers who have been missing in action for decades already, Ron Ben Batya [Arad], Guy Ben Rina [Hever], Tzvi Ben Pninah [Feldman], Yekutiel Yehuda Nachman Ben Sarah [Katz], and Zecharia Shlomo Ben Miriam [Baumel]. May beloved sons return to their homeland borders, soon, amen!


Israel Grieves Rabbi Meir Avshalom Chai, HY"D

Rabbi Meir Avshalom Chai, 40, of Shavei Shomron, was murdered Thursday afternoon when terrorists fired at the car he was traveling home from work, where he was a gentle and beloved educator of early-grade elementary-school children. 

The Al-Aksa Martyrs' Brigades of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction said Thursday evening they were the ones who carried out the terror slaying.

How can Bibi Natanyahu and Obama look into the tearful eyes of Israel's latest terror-induced widow and seven orphans? How can they give any legitimization to Abbas and his PA? This is the Arab answer to the lack of backbone in the Israeli government that opened up critical check points in Judea and Samaria and put a freeze on all building and development. Our sages told us that those who are kind to the cruel (Bibi & Obama to the PA) end up being cruel to the kind (Bibi & Obama to the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria.

If that's not enough, the same Al-Aksa Martyrs' Brigades of the Fatah (Palestinian Authority), laid an IED (improvised explosive device) on the side of road 443, between Modiin and Jerusalem. With Hashem's loving grace, the IED was discovered and destroyed by IDF sappers.

The nauseating feeling here is that many of the PA terrorists are after-hours jihadis of the US-trained so-called Palestinian force. General Dayton admits to helping the Fatah; if that's so, then morally, the USA has blood on its hands.

May Rabbi Chai's saintly and martyred soul beg for mercy for all of us in these challenging times, and may Hashem comfort his widow and orphans in their indescribably tragic loss, among the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem, amen.


A Letter from Esther Pollard

Dear Rabbi Lazer Brody,

Your latest post Why Gilead Shalit Must Go Free - Now! supporting the proposed swap of 1000 terrorist murderers for the release of one captive came up in our "Google Alerts" because, for the first time ever, you mention my husband, Jonathan Pollard.

Jonathan's plight has been defined by the great rabbis of our generation, not only as the mitzvah of pidyan shvuyim, but as the most supreme form of the mitzvah: namely, the mitzvah of pidyan shvuyim for one who was moser nefesh for Am Yisrael. (See http:// www.jonathanpollard.org/2006/121706.htm and see also http://www.jonathanpollard.org/1993/101593.jpg ) It is therefore deeply distressing to note that your one-and-only mention of Jonathan in 25 years was apparently to promote the sale of a book. 

We are unable to reconcile your extreme concern for the mitzvah of pidyan shvuyim in the case of Gilad Shalit with your failure to ever show any concern for the fate of Jonathan Pollard, who has been held captive for 2 ½  decades and whose day-to-day survival is an open miracle.

(I would also like to point out that your offhand mention that Jonathan has read "The Garden of Emunah" three times is erroneous.  As I responded to one of your readers in a private email which found its way to you, Jonathan has received 3 copies of "The Garden of Emunah" as gifts. I have never asked him if he read it at all. I only confirmed that he received it.)

Next, with regard to your post, Why Gilead Shalit Must Go Free - Now!, the premise is that this unholy deal for Shalit is about the mitzvah of pidyan shvuyim. It is not.

Jonathan and I co-authored an op-ed for the Jerusalem Post on this issue to highlight the danger this deal poses to Am Yisrael and to expose its duplicitous nature. A copy of our op-ed follows below. We hope you will read it and that it may help you to rethink your position for the sake your readers.

There are no names used in our op-ed, because it is about principle. It is not personal. Its goal is to sound the alarm against reckless endangerment of the people of Israel via the infusion of massive numbers of murderers and terrorists into the civilian population of neighboring areas of Gaza and the PA.

It exposes the hypocrisy of the Government of Israel in "negotiating" a massive release of murderers and terrorists in exchange for a single captive, on the claim that this lopsided "swap" is based on the principle of never abandoning one who served the State.

Jonathan and I decided to use a literary device, an anonymous comparison of two cases, to demonstrate that if principle were truly the reason for the Government's insistence on making such a monstrous deal, then the same principle would rule in every case for every captive, not just for one. Because that is not the case, it is obvious that principle has nothing to do with formulating this deadly deal.


The bottom line for us is: political expediency is driving the Government's plan to engineer the wholesale release of murderers and terrorists, not ideological concern for a captive.

It cost Jonathan in blood to be able to write and put his name to this op-ed but he felt he had to do it, to wake people up. If you wish to reprint it and this letter, you may do so with attribution.

yours truly,
Esther Pollard


Refusing to remain silent in the face of evil



Jonathan and Esther Pollard - The Jerusalem Post - November 25, 2009

Why is the life of one Israeli captive deemed so precious that Israel's leaders are willing to dispense with all logic and morality in order to redeem him? Why is the life of another Israeli captive dismissed as if it were worthless?

Why is the life of one captive such an urgent national priority that the safety and security of every single Israeli citizen must be put at risk? Why is the life of the other captive so inconsequential - after decades of captivity - that negotiations for his release have never been undertaken?

Are we, the People of Israel, so incompetent, so bereft of will, talent, imagination and faith in God that we really believe the only way to secure the release of the former captive is at a price so exorbitant that it beggars the imagination? Do we really believe that the wholesale release of terrorists and murderers is a rational response? Are we, the People of Israel, so bereft of vision that we cannot grasp that burying one captive alive while we pray for the release of the other drives the blessing away and brings shame and dishonor upon us all?

Are we, the People of Israel, so politically brainwashed that we cannot see that, in both cases, mere expediency reigns supreme in a morally-bankrupt government? This is not fulfillment of the mitzva of pidyon shvuyim!

AS LONG as Israeli leaders demonstrate a unanimous will to exploit the value of rescuing one captive because it suits their political ends, while simultaneously ignoring another captive, there can be no national honor, nor national self-respect. There is only political expediency. Self-serving, opportunistic, political expediency.

Those who are willing to close their eyes to the truth and follow lockstep with Israel's "leaders" in support of this unconscionable plan to unleash the forces of evil by allowing the architects of mass murder to pour forth from Israeli jails are placing their own lives at risk as well as the lives of their loved ones.

Those who fail to speak out and protest Israel's lopsided, immoral policy of selective rescue - damning one captive while saving the other and simultaneously putting the lives of all citizens in jeopardy - must know that they are complicit in this criminal deed.

It is painfully clear that Israel's mainstream media has stymied all rational debate on this issue, just as it has, for its own self-serving reasons, lent its support to the government's cowardly abandonment of the latter captive.

Nevertheless, moral conscience does not permit us to remain silent.

If our words are not heard today, so be it. A time will come when they will be heard. We hope that by then, it will not be too late.

Jonathan Pollard is an American-born Israeli citizen who worked for Israel's Ministry of Defense. He is currently in his 25th year of captivity in an American prison for his activities on behalf of the security of the State of Israel. Esther Pollard is his wife.

This article can also be read on the Jerusalem Post site by clicking here.

The Lesson of the Sabra

Sabra Meet the sabra, a cactus that holds the honor of being the unofficial symbol of Israel. Really, the sabra could be a good candidate to serve as the symbol of life in this world.

Don't think that the sabra's stickers only look sharp - they are sharp. But, they are fruitful. As you see in the photo, this one cactus leaf is sprouting six sabras, which are known as prickly pears in English. You have to wear thick mason's gloves when you cut the fruit off the cactus leaf, otherwise you'll have hundreds of tiny irritating fruit-peel stickers in your hands. Ah, but for those who know how to carefully remove the fruit from the cactus, then peel the outer fruit skin with the prickles, awaits an inner fruit delicacy that tastes like ripe persimmons with honey - an indescribable treat.

If you look close enough, you'll see that the thorns in your life are only a superficial covering for some inner reward that awaits you. In this world, there's no pleasure without pain, and every blessing is concealed within some thorny times and tribulations. Don't let the thorns discourage you. Remember that life is like a sabra - if you're patient and careful enough to get past the stickers, then you're in for a pleasant surprise. Hear more about it in the film clip below:


Believing in Yourself

Rebbe Nachman gave a lesson on the verse, “And they did not listen to Moshe because of lack of spirit and cruel bondage (Exodus 6:9).” This lesson became Torah 86 in the second section of Likutei Moharan and states that when a person lacks emuna, he has to work doubly hard in attaining a particular goal.

Rebbe Natan writes (Rebbe Nachman’s Discourses, 140), “When the Rebbe addressed this lesson to me I was quite shocked. I always thought of myself as having faith and could not understand his implication. When I mentioned this to the Rebbe he answered me with some impatience, 'You may have faith, but you have no faith in yourself. Hast du in dir kein emunah nit.’”

If Rebbe Natan, a spiritual giant by any generation’s standards, had no faith in himself, then what can we say about ourselves?

Don’t despair. Rabbenu Nachman wants to drive the point home to all of his followers – from Rebbe Natan down to us and all subsequent generations – that to serve Hashem properly, we must believe in ourselves.

“All well and good,” you’re probably commenting to yourself, “but what does it mean to believe in myself?” Great question, dearest brothers and sisters. Continue reading Believing in Yourself and find your answer on this week's edition of Breslev Israel web magazine.

Also this week:

A Daily Requirement by Rabbi Shalom Arush.

Special recommendation: Rubber Band Emuna by Rivka Levy is the best essay you'll ever see about a sticky subject that many people prefer to sweep under the rug.

This week's Torah portion is Vayigash - don't miss Rebbetzen Siegelbaum's The Eternal Harp.

Bracha Goetz writes about the Identity Theft of the Biggest Kind. Chaya Ovadia tells us about The Eclipse of the Heart. For Breslev Kids, there's The Yetzer Tov Wins, part 9 of David the Shepherd Boy.

My beloved spiritual brother and colleague Yosef Nechama, General Director of Breslev Israel Communications and Rabbi Shalom Arush's right-hand man, has a really soft heart despite his sabra no-nonsense exterior. On a recent trip together, we met some depressed people. We found out that they never heard about our CDs. So now, he's literally giving them away for half price - he wants everyone to be happy. I don't know how he does them so inexpensive, but you should take advantage. Try the Essential Happiness Set. You'll find many more gift, book, and CD bargains at the Breslev Israel Online Store.

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Here's wishing you a great week!