Living Al Kiddush HaShem - A Letter to Jonathan Pollard

Yigal Kamintzky, Chief Rabbi of Gush Katif
Justice4JPnews - June 8, 2009 Translated to English by J4JP

1 Sivan 5769 - May 24, 2009

To our very dear friend, Jonathan Pollard, beloved of our heart, and delight of our soul, may HaShem protect you and watch over you!

Often times I am given to thinking about you and about the enormous devotion and self-sacrifice for Am Yisrael which you have demonstrated and continue to demonstrate.

No doubt you are familiar with the story of the sage Rabbi Akiva, who was condemned to death by the Romans by having his flesh torn from his body with iron combs. Even as his tormentors were raking his flesh, flaying him alive, he accepted the Heavenly decree with love and whole-heartedly affirmed his belief in G-d.

His disciples asked him, even now? Even now, when you endure such terrible torture, you still accept the yoke of Heaven with love?

Rabbi Akiva replied, "All my life, it pained me that I never had the opportunity to fulfill the Biblical command, 'You shall love the Lord your G-d with all your soul-even if your soul is taken from you.' Now that I finally have the opportunity, shall I not fulfill the commandment?"

Indeed, to die as a martyr in a moment of self-sacrifice is a great "Kiddush HaShem" - a great sanctification of G-d's name in the world. But to live "al Kiddush HaShem," as you do, suffering terrible afflictions endlessly, day after day, every single moment, this is the highest form of "Kiddush HaShem" possible. As our sages of blessed memory have stated, "captivity" is the worst suffering of all (because it contains within it all the other afflictions.)

It is written: "The Ten Martyrs - no other being in G-d's creation can ever approach their quarter." If no other creation in the world can approach the greatness of the self-sacrifice of Rabbi Akiva and the Ten Martyrs who died with him- not in this world and not even in the higher worlds - how much more so is this true of those, like yourself, who bear afflictions endlessly, day after day, every single minute of every single day!

The entire purpose of our lives is Kiddush HaShem - the sanctification of G-d's name in this world, and this is precisely what you are doing, every single minute of every single day, ever since you placed your own life on the line to protect and save Am Yisrael.

Indeed, you are right up there on a level with Moshe Rabbeinu. When HaKadosh Baruchu wanted to destroy Am Yisrael after the Sin of the Golden Calf, Moshe put his own life on the line when he said to the Ribbono Shel Olam, "Either You shall save Am Yisrael -or if not, I pray You please wipe out my name from The Book You have written!" Thus he saved Am Yisrael from annihilation.

The callous indifference of successive governments of Israel to a loyal son such as you, who sacrificed himself on behalf of Am Yisrael, deeply pains us to the depths of our soul. We suffer in the face of this despicable Chillul HaShem and the overwhelming, astounding ingratitude it reflects.

To our sorrow, you are not the only one. We, the people of Gush Katif as well, for many years devoted ourselves to this nation, often facing great danger and with enormous self-sacrifice. For years we lived at mortal risk in Gush Katif and suffered severe hardships, protecting Am Yisrael and the southern region with our own bodies. In the end, we were summarily uprooted and heartlessly expelled by the Government of Israel.

I believe that your suffering and ours as well, fall into a category known as "Mitat Tzadikim m'chaperet - the Death of the Righteous atones". This refers to terrible torments which the righteous endure in order to atone for the Nation, sparing it from harsh decrees to which it would otherwise be subject. These are Heavenly reckonings that our human minds cannot fathom.

Nevertheless, it is as clear as the sun, that in a place far beyond the sun, where all final accounts are settled (since "S'char mitzvah b'hai alma layka - Recompense for a mitzvah is not in this World") when the final reckoning is made, there in the World of Truth, you will find your place reserved amongst the highest and most exalted souls like yourself - a place so exclusively special that "no other being in G-d's creation can ever approach their quarter".

You should know that we daven for you in our synagogues and a special prayer has been written for you and the other IDF captives. May HaShem immediately fulfill for you the verse: "And those redeemed by HaShem return and come joyfully to Zion; with eternal happiness upon their heads!" May it indeed be so! Amain!

With tears and with hope,
Yigal Kamintzky
Rabbi of the Gush Katif Communities

  • See Also: Original Hebrew Text of this letter: