Torah Sages Elyashiv & Schteinman Send Historically Unprecedented Letter To President Bush
Justice4JPnews - February 28, 2007
Two of the most pre-eminent Torah Sages of our generation, Harav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv shlita of Jerusalem , and HaRav Aron Leib Schteinman shlita of Bnei Brak, have signed a historically unprecedented letter to President George Bush, calling for the release Jonathan Pollard.
This is the first time that Torah Sages of this stature have ever addressed a foreign head of State about any matter.
This is the first time that HaRav Elyashiv and HaRav Schteinman have signed a joint letter to address a matter of urgency not directly related to their own Torah communities.
This is the first time that Rabbis Schteinman and Elyashiv have intervened jointly in the Mitzvah of Pidyan Shvuyim.
The sages' joint letter to President Bush was the result of a series of meetings with Rabbi Pesach Lerner, executive vice president of the National Council of Young Israel. [See images and photos
here.] Rabbi Lerner brought the Torah giants up to date on the case of Jonathan Pollard who has been languishing in prison for 22 years for his service to the security of the State of Israel.
The case of Jonathan Pollard is not just the mitzvah of Pidyan Shvuyim, but the most supreme level of the mitzvah: Pidyan Shvuyim for one who was moser nefesh leman Am Yisrael (one who sacrificed himself for the Nation of Israel).
Once the sages were fully apprised of the situation and of the grossly disproportionate nature of Jonathan's sentence, and of the failure of the Israeli Government to act on his behalf, it was unthinkable for the rabbis to remain silent. Even more so in light of the recent call for Jonathan's release by James Woolsey, the former head of the CIA.
The rabbis were particularly dismayed to learn of Jonathan Pollard's ill health and of the absolute failure of the Government of Israel to take even the most basic steps to secure Pollard's release, even though he served the government as a faithful agent.
The letter signed by Rabbis Schteinman and Elyashiv has a symbolic value far beyond words on paper. Now that the "Gedolim" have signed for Jonathan Pollard, it is a signal to the observant Jewish community (the Charedi community) that all are obliged to do whatever they can to support the cause of Jonathan Pollard's release.
This infusion of new blood into the fight for justice for Jonathan Pollard can only add to the momentum that is already being felt as a result of statements by important officials such as James Woolsey and Dennis Ross, calling for Pollard's release; and a new White House Call-In Campaign initiated by the National Council of Young Israel, and endorsed by Agudath Israel of America, which has swept hundreds of Jewish Organizations into action.
Jonathan Pollard's wife, in a statement to IDF Radio this morning, called on Prime Minister Olmert to follow the example of the Torah sages by making an immediate demand for Jonathan's release. "Mr. Olmert does not have to free murderers or terrorists. He does not have to negotiate with our enemies. All he has to do is bring Jonathan home now and he will have blessing and the thanks of the Nation," she said.
Esther Pollard told IDF Radio, "After 22 years in prison, 22 years of torture and affliction and the worst possible treatment by the Government of Israel - and by the Americans - Jonathan deserves to be home in Israel well in advance of Pesach so that he can truly celebrate the Holiday of Freedom."
"Purim," Esther said, is the holiday of v'naafoch hu (turnabout), and it is fast approaching. It is time for a real turnabout! Let Mr. Olmert open his mouth and demand Jonathan's immediate release. Bringing Jonathan home now will bring the blessing of Heaven upon us and a truly joyful Purim for all of Israel!"