The Nation is with Jonathan!

HaRav Shlomo Aviner - Mayanei HaYeshua - December 18, 2003

Translated by J4JP

It is incumbent upon us as a Nation to do penance for the great sin we have committed in abandoning Jonathan Pollard.

All though we have tried and tried to free him and failed, that does not mean that this is a lost cause. On the contrary! It just means that we have to try a lot harder!

Jonathan Pollard has languished in jail for 19 years because of his devotion to us. When he learned that the Jewish People in Zion were in danger, he did not worry about personal consequences, he rushed to warn us.

Jews in America who live in fear of dual loyalty speak ill of Pollard, his actions embarrassed them. We must admonish them: do you want us to remain silent and repeat the enormous sin we committed while the Holocaust raged in Europe? We allowed our brothers to be murdered and we worried only about ourselves. If we remain silent and fail to rescue our hapless brother, Jonathan, we will be committing the same terrible sin all over again!

Just as Jonathan sacrificed for us and has paid dearly for it, now it is up to us to demonstrate self-sacrifice to rescue him.

There are officials in Israel who truly appreciate Jonathan, but claim that we have so many more pressing problems - financial, political and security-related. That we need the Americans for military supplies, that we must not irritate them or pressure them. In short, Jonathan is worthy, but there are other needs which are far more worthy.

This is not true! Anyone capable of forgetting Jonathan has no concept of what it means to be a State, what it means to be a Nation, or what it means to settle The Land and to build Zion! He has no notion that there are some sins that cancel out a million mitzvahs; and certain mitzvahs that can rectify a million sins (The Rambam, Hilchot Tshuva, 2, 3). Saving a man - one who has saved thousands of people, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people, maybe even among them some who are now reading these lines - is tantamount to saving an entire nation. Pollard is not a private issue - he is OUR issue - all of Israel are guarantors for each other!

If we had the strength, according to Biblical tradition, we ought to take up arms and go to America to free Jonathan. This is what our forefather Abraham did when he learned that our brother Lot had been taken captive. Even though Lot was not a righteous person, Abraham enlisted all of his men and went out to war against 4 mighty kings. This is what Moshe Rabbeinu did when the King of Arad took one of ours hostage. According to Rashi, the hostage was a handmaiden - not a national hero like Jonathan - and Moshe Rabbeinu went to war to free her. This is also what David HaMelech did - he waged war to free his wives who had been taken captive. Abraham, David, Moshe - their initials ADM (in Hebrew) spell the word "human". Whoever does not understand this, is not human, but a politician - in the worst sense of the word - who is so concerned with momentary matters that he forgets that mighty empires have also crumbled when they neglected to behave in a moral fashion.

While it is not on the agenda to gather an army and go to war to free Jonathan, what should be on the agenda is to tell the Americans: "As long as Pollard is not here, we have no interest in dealing with you. We do not wish to speak with you. You do not exist for us."

This is what David did after a cruel war which pitted brother against brother, and we appointed and crowned a Jewish King for the first time, but that King said: "Michal, my wife! If Michal, my wife is a hostage, you have nothing to say to me." Of course they responded: "Does the fate of the whole nation, the fate of Klal Yisrael, the Kingship, and the State hang in the balance because of a single woman?" Yes! Because if David were to forget his wife, he is unfit to be King, cannot be King, and is not worthy of being called a human being.

Similarly, whoever forgets Jonathan is not human. When we fail to rescue Jonathan we destroy the moral foundations of our State.

Therefore we must not beg the Americans. We must demand. We are not beggars. We are a sovereign State. An important State. There have been instances in the past where we have demonstrated this, where we have told the Americans, "No!" Years ago they threatened Prime Minister Golda Meir: "If you do not agree to the Rogers Plan and give up chunks of the country, we will cut off your supply of weapons." She responded, "We will survive no matter what you threaten!" That is national strength!

We do not beg. We demand and we inform: Jonathan belongs to us. Return him to us at once. You don't care about him, you have thrown him in a pit. We care about him. He is our brother. He has a place in the heart of Knesset Yisrael; he is our Minister of Brotherly Love.

We declare, as did the Nation in days of old when they redeemed Jonathan (Samuel I 14:45): "Shall Jonathan die, who has wrought such great salvation in Israel? Perish the thought! Not a hair of his head shall be harmed! And the People redeemed Jonathan and he did not die."

Chazak vih Nitchazek! Be Strong and let us take strength! The Nation is with Jonathan!

Biographical Note: HaRav Shlomo Aviner shlita, is the Rav of Bet El and the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Ateret Cohanim in the Old City of Jerusalem.

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