7 Tishrei 5769
One of the fundamental realities about Judaism is that blessings from the One Above are for everybody, regardless of their affiliations. When our Holy Temples - Beit Mikdash (singular)/Batei Mikdash (plural) - stood, people came from around the world to praise GOD and blessings materialized (among other miracles) worldwide. The Third, permanent Temple, is destined to materialize at a future point. It too will be a global source of blessings for everyone. Meanwhile, we hang on to basic concepts of hope, purpose and the dignity of our souls no matter how we pray.
Some of us are enduring unspeakable suffering: ill health, financial strain, emotional upheaval and more. My book teaches many ways to cope with all that.
One of the people who praised It's MY Crisis! Add I'll Cry if I Need To is a famous woman in the Jewish world, a widow of the renown Rimnitzer Rebbe zt'zl (may his holy memory be for a blessing). The Rimnitzer Rebbetzin and I have been friends for decades. Her husband was my rebbe.
I am not visibly Hasidic, but I benefited greatly from the rebbe's involvement in my life and often visited him.
His widow, the Rimnitzer Rebbetzin permits me to share a letter she wrote to a man in prison (see below. I added English translation for Hebrew phrases). I'm confident that you'll find it a source of strength for your concerns, medical and otherwise (Please note - I put her remarks to friends who'd received the E-mail into parentheses. The rebbetzin's letter to the prisoner starts after that):
[Enclosed I am forwarding to you a copy of a shiur [Torah lesson] that was recorded on “Kol Haloshon” this past Friday morning. With the help of Hashem and His endless S’yata D’shmaya [supervison of life] it has tremendously uplifted and strengthened all those who have heard it. It is a copy of a letter that I have written to encourage someone who is serving time in prison with an introduction and some powerful concepts at the end of the letter. In these difficult times where each of us are experiencing our own version of a prison sentence it would be beneficial to circulate this amongst family and friends. If you prefer, then it can be heard on the Kol Haloshon line directly at 1-718-906-6400…press 1 for English, 5 for women shiurim, 28 for Rimnitzer rebbetzin and this shiur is #7 in the archives.
It also can be heard on the net at http://www.kolhashiurim.com/ press English and then Shiurim for women then Rimnitzer Rebbetzin. There are presently 6 shiurim in the archives. This shiur is #7 and it should be available shortly.
BS’D [All is in the Hands of Heaven]
Good morning to all of you, beloved and holy women of Klal Yisroel (the Jewish nation) who are present here on the line this morning. I am sure that Hashem [GOD ] is very impressed that on such a busy Erev (Pre) Shabbos and Erev Chag (Holiday) you are all taking the time and making the effort to tune into a Chizuk [emotionally strengthening] line that has already accomplished so much in strengthening and upgrading your personal Avodas Hashem (Service Of G-D), as you all yearn to become better at whatever tafkid (Mission) it is that Hashem has given you to do.
We are now in the midst of the awesome days of Aseres Yimai Teshuva, the ten days of repentance prior to the final sealing of our destinies for the upcoming year. What better time than right now to inspire each other and strengthen each other and comfort each other and remind each other that we are all part of the most exalted nation on Planet Earth and that we were given the honored responsibility to be a light upon the nations and to glorify the name of Hashem and sing His never ending praises.
What better time than right now to awaken our holy spark, to upgrade our desire for the final redemption to new levels of holy yearning. What better time than right now to spread contagious joy to one another and become filled with faith and trust in our Creator and turn our inner eyes heavenward and open our hearts to bless Hashem that He shall have no more Tzaar Gidul Banim (pain from the process of raising children) from us his precious and beloved children because our pain is surely His pain as it is written, "B’Chul Tzaarosam Lo Tzaar (All their troubles hurt him tremendously)…" and oh, are we all hurting…
... I want to share with you a letter of Chizuk (Encouragement) that I wrote to a young, totally innocent man who unfortunately received a 4 ½ year prison sentence simply because they wanted him to reveal information about others that they believed he had access to and he stood firm and silent putting the law of the Torah before the law of the land and he and his family are now paying a heavy price for his silence.
So why would I choose to share a letter that was sent to someone in a prison? How does that apply to all of us? The truth though is that each one of us, who are experiencing our own personal challenges, inwardly feels as if we are locked within our own personal prison, with no release date in sight. We feel bound by our challenges, locked into a tight space and trapped uncomfortably, with the guard seemingly, holding the key to our desired freedom. It becomes most difficult to see the way out, to taste freedom, or to touch it. We feel stifled. Our situation has the power to make us feel lost and abandoned and proper choices may seem beyond our control.
Though this letter was specifically written to someone I will call Yosef to mask his true identity, its messages and concepts can nevertheless be applied to us all as well. Whenever I need to speak I like to begin with the words “Hashem Sifasai Tiftach, Ufi Yagid Tehilasecha/ Hashem please open my mouth so that I may speak of your praises” and “L’Adam Mayarchei Lev /May’Hashem strengthen your heart, "Ma’aneh Lashon/Man has thoughts in his heart but only Hashem may help him express them.”
NOW I WILL SHARE THIS LETTER OF CHIZUK WITH YOU and I hope that you will be able to gain some insight that you can immediately apply to your own reality and that it will thereby succeed in upgrading your own Avodas Hashem. At the end of the letter I have some more words of chizuk to share which have helped me greatly and I feel it would be worthy to pass them on to you as well:]
Lichvod Yosef Hatzadik V’Tamim [Dear Innocent Yosef],
How does one even begin to write to someone who is serving time in a prison when they have no idea what their harsh reality truly feels like? How can you give someone else comfort or advice as you sit in your own house with the freedom to come and go and do and be the person of your own choice with no one standing over you dictating their rules for you to follow? Can anyone in the outside world, so to speak, even come close to imagining the anguish in your heart? Are you suffering in silence? Have you repressed your emotions in order not to be conscious of the agony of the great test which has been given to you? Do you ever have the freedom to shed a tear, or is a prison a place where a tear can be interpreted as a weakness? Is there any measuring rod available that can measure the depth of your longing to your precious family and to your incredible friends? What is daily life like within the confines of your prison walls? Can you actually call it life? What about the concept of time?
How long is a prison minute, an hour, a day, a week or a month? Do you have a structured schedule? Can you relax enough to sleep at night? Can you be nourished by the food? Are there any moments in your day that are uplifting? Do you have time and space and the peace of mind to pray with focused intention and holy Dvaikus? Do any of the prison guards or personnel recognize you as the wonderful human being that you truly are, or are you merely a number to them like Prisoner 1234? Yes, I am asking a lot of questions, but then again, what do I know? How can one even begin to comprehend all the intricacies and dimensions that control your existence at this present time?
What is my intention? My intention is to try and make an attempt to say words of strength and comfort that you can hold onto like dynamic pillars that have the power to uphold the fortress thereby turning your prison walls into palace walls. Can that be done? I can only humbly pray to Hashem that HE allows me to be a pure vessel to transmit a message of hope that will somehow have the ability to fill your mind with uplifting thoughts that will carry you, moment by moment to your true state of freedom where your consciousness will soar to much greater heights.
Why are you in prison? How did you end up there? Even though according to the law of the land they found you guilty you know the truth that you are totally innocent. You committed no crime whatsoever. Your crime is your refusal to speak and say what they believe you know about others that they feel are guilty. This world is so fleeting, like the mere blink of an eye. Your reward is waiting for you, never ever doubt that.
Did your boss send you to prison? Definitely not!!! He is only a messenger and this destiny was unavoidable. Hashem has a definite and precise reason that HE chose you for this great honor. Was Hashem not able to get you a job in a million different places? This did not happen to you because you worked in this particular place. You worked in this particular place in order so that this should happen to you. It is most definitely part of your life’s destiny. Is this a punishment? No! No! No! It is part of a divine plan to personally bring you to greater heights and it is your personal contribution to the Chevlay Moshiach (birth pangs prior to the coming of Moshiach) story. Nobody on this planet is in a better position to be mishtatef (to join) with the tzaar Hashechina (pain of the divine presence) than a person serving time in prison.
How many Shabbasim [Sabbaths] have I spent with you and your family and was truly impressed with your capabilities as an exemplary father. The great love and interaction between you and your children is most unique and exemplary. It is sooo difficult to imagine how deep their longing must be for you and how intensely your own Fatherly emotions must be consistently present. How closely can you now identify with Hashem, Our Beloved Father in Heaven whose love and longing for HIS children is so powerful? The fact that He is hiding HIS face from us in exile can be compared to the intensity of the separation of a father and child by a cold prison cell wall. But just as you are so loving and so longing for your children, so is Hashem in HIS great longing "Maitzitz Min Hacharakim," peeking from behind the crevices with great anticipation to once again reveal His love and unity to His chosen children. Isn’t the separation of husband and wife compared to the separation of Kudsha Br’ich Hu U’Shecintay (G-D and His Divine Presence)?
Did you ever hear the saying "You are where your thoughts are?" Well, there is an undeniable truth to this statement. Physically, you are in prison camp but you truly are anywhere your thoughts are. I once read a very impressive story about a young American Prisoner of War (P.O.W) who was captured in Viet Nam and was tortured and kept in solitary confinement in a dark, windowless dungeon for the duration of seven seemingly endless years until he was miraculously released. Amidst the excruciating solitude and loneliness he made a conscious decision that he would occupy his mind with something pleasurable in order to save his sanity. Well, he didn't have Tefilah (Prayer) or Torah but he loved to play golf. So for hours and hours on end he transported himself to the most breathtaking Golf Course with green luscious grass on the most magnificently imaginable piece of landscape with the most perfect climate and he would play and replay his game of golf until he perfected the game in his mind to the quality and status of an Olympic player. In his mind he threw those little golf balls with such precision and such exactitude that he never missed a hole. He was a happy man, doing exactly what he loved, on most hours of his waking day. He was totally oblivious to the moldy unpleasant scent in his dungeon. Instead he smelled the luscious fresh cut green grass. When his cell was cold and wet he sensed only the heat of the sun soothing his body as his game was in full motion. When his cell felt hot and humid he comfortably drove around in his golf cart sensing the wondrous breeze embracing him. When the loneliness threatened to be unbearable he conversed with his golf buddies as they tapped him on the back while acknowledging his amazing abilities to win them at every single game. Seven years down the line, the day of his release became a reality. When he got off the plane in his ragged and filthy clothing he was asked where he would like to go and what he would like to do to celebrate his newfound freedom. "Take me to a Golf Course" was his response. And so they did. He was handed the golf balls and the golf club and in great wonder and amazement he proceeded to outdo the score of even the most famous world Olympic players.
"How did you do that?" they all asked. So the man proceeded to explain that when you visualize something in your mind with such discipline and such consistency for seven straight years your body just naturally obeys. So what is the moral of this story? The moral of the story is: that if that P.O.W was able to turn into a world Champion by the mere power of his thoughts, just imagine who you can become by saturating yourself with constant holy elevated thoughts of Torah, Tefilah (Prayer), Hisbodedus, (Personal intimate conversation to Hashem) Ahavas HASHEM (love of G-D) and Dvaikus HASHEM (Cleaving to G-D). So you can ask a very valid question. "How can I do that in a place of unholiness and in an atmosphere of such great impurities?" where profane language is constantly being heard, where televisions are blasting away, where holy books are absent, where holy role models do not exist and where prison rules create their own agenda for the quality of my life.
Yosef, holy Yosef; that is exactly the very place that has unimaginable capabilities to turn you into a Tzadik (A Righteous one) that is way above your wildest imagination. What if every single time your ears heard profane language you would cry out to HASHEM from some deep place within your soul and you would say to HIM. "Hashem, you know how distasteful this language is to my ears. Hashem, I so much dislike this sound, this (Kol) Oh! What I would give to be sitting in the Bais Hamedrash now, listening to Hakol Kol Yaakov the voice of Torah and the voice of Tefilah. Hashem, 'Koli El Hashem Ekra,' my voice calls onto you Hashem, "Koli El Hashem EsChanun" my voice pleads to you Hashem. I ask of you, 'Hashmee’aynee Es Kolaich' please, allow me to hear only your voice and obey all your commandments. Please, allow your children to hear the Kol Mevaser of Eliyahu Hanavi [Prophet Elijah] heralding the coming of our final redemption. Oh, how your beloved children long to hear the Kol Dodi Heenay Ze Ba, Ze Kol shel Melech Hamoshiach the sweet voice of our King Moshiach."
Whenever you hear the sound of profanity you can instantly elevate it by saying this heartfelt prayer and exchanging it to the sweetest sound that will ring in the ears of Hashem and bring Him ecstatic pleasure.
When the longing for your family hurts deeply and the desire to be away from your confined premises feels overwhelming you can say "Tzama Licha Nafshi" (My soul thirsts for you Hashem) with great feeling). You can take all your unfulfilled dreams and wishes and offer them as a sacrifice to Hashem on the Mizbayach [altar that is your soul] and it will become a pure Rayach Hanichoach, a scent that Hashem will find immense pleasure in.
Just as Hashem said to Avraham "Lech Licha Mayartzecha, leave your land" He said it to you, Yosef, as well. He uprooted you from everything loving and familiar and sent you to a place where you have no identity or status. Remember though, that in reality you are NOT a prisoner. You are a Ben Melech. You are the son of the only true King. You may not be given the privilege to act like one but at least YOU should not forget who you are. Look around you and you will discover how many endless times a day you are given the opportunity to scream out with holy joy "Baruch Shelo Asani Goy." Yes a prison creates an atmosphere which keeps one very humble and helps him cry out "Uma Ani" (and who am I anyway) yet at the very same time Hashem wants you to remember that “Bishvili Nivrah Ha’Olam” (For me alone this entire world was created.) Yosef Hatzadik [forefather Joseph] sat in prison. Reb Yisroel M’Rizhin sat in prison. The Skulener Rebbe sat in Prison. The Lubavitcher Rebbe sat in prison. Many other Tzadikim (Righteous ones) did as well. Did Hashem not love them all dearly? Did He not sit with them? We may not know or understand Hashem's reasoning but there surely is a divine plan.
I heard a story on Rabbi Waxman's series on Emunah and Bitachon that would be appropriate to share with you. He told a story of a man who came to a certain town for Shabbos [Sabbath] to spend it with the Holy Kotzker Rebbe. While he was there he heard that his hometown burned down to the ground along with his home and business. The man proceeded to faint. They revived him and then he fainted again. This scenario repeated itself a couple of times until the Holy Kotzker came over to the man and calmed him down by saying. Yes, it may be true that the damage in your town was great yet you do not have to worry about it at all. Your house is not one of them. The man calmed down somewhat and Motzai Shabbos [after Sabbath] it was discovered that the Kotzker Rebbe was right in his prediction. "What a Moifes!! (Wondrous miracle)" everyone yelled and so the Kotzker Rebbe said "No, No, No, it is not a Moifes at all, it is very, very pashut (Simple). I saw that this man kept on fainting because he simply could not take it and I know that Hashem does not give someone a test that he does not have the ability to pass so I understood that it must be an error." Then Rabbi Waxman continues to explain that if Hashem tests someone it means that Hashem trusts that, that person’s level of Emunah (Faith) is great enough to pass that particular test. In other words, if Hashem tests you then take it as the highest, most divine compliment that He trusts the high level of your Emunah.
Yosef, you have been severely tested. You have arrived at your prison camp after a few years of horrific tension of being under “Home Arrest” and court hearings and struggling with outrageous Lawyers fees and not knowing what the future will bring and how the outcome will be and when and for how long and how will the family survive and yet you somehow, miraculously held up. I was always amazed by your strength and courage and how you were mekabel (accepted) everything with such love and humility and though the burden was very heavy you still seemed to maintain your level of Simchas Hachayim (joy for life) and Emunas Tzadikim and your Emunas Hashem (Faith in G-D).
A Shabbos in prison. How very sad it must feel. How strangely different. It hurts to even imagine it. But, like (Lehavdil) the P.O.W on his Golf Course you can sing your very own Mizmor Shir Lyom Ha’Shabbos (Song of Shabbos) created by your particular matzav (Circumstance). True, you are not surrounded by your wife and children, by the friends and guests you have over or the ones you get invited over to, but you do have Hashem. You are His guest and He is your guest. True the candles are not burning but the fire of your holy soul is very visible to Hashem.
What Hashem would like is for you to stare at the sparkle and beauty of the holy fire within you that most people go through life without ever noticing. Stare at your own divinity. That breath of life that is so intimate and close. The breath that Hashem Himself blew into you.
I imagine you have no physical white tablecloth or perhaps not even a personal table. What I do know is that all the many Mitzvos (good deeds) which you have already acquired, the Chesed [kindnesses] you have already done, the nisyonos (tests) you have already passed, the yesurim (pain) which you have already been mekabel (accepted) B’Ahava (with love) appear to Hashem as a magnificent white covering which beautifies both body and soul.
Yes, in prison you must improvise. Every physical action has a spiritual counterpart. So if you do not possess physical props then use the spiritual props which you have already acquired and even more so, create new ones. Sing zemiros. Tell stories of tzadikim. Speak of Geulah. (Redemption). Should you not have the freedom to do this in actuality, do it in your mind. It is guaranteed that the Angels in heaven will harmonize with you. Our Avos (Forefathers) will join as well. A holy innocent Jew sitting in an unholy prison, desiring a holy Shabbos and not having the means to implement his desires, creating Shabbos in his thoughts and singing in silence is enough powerful to stir all the holy souls in heaven to come and join him and harmonize with him.
Please do not regard these words as fantasy. They are as true and alive as the Torah is. We live in parallel universes. There is a very thin veil between the upper and lower worlds, between the physical and the spiritual. The world of computers and faxes and digital films and e-mails should give us some understanding of this reality. Every word we speak, every thought we have, is instantly recorded on Hashem’s sophisticated technology. Hashem is a Yodaya Machshavos. HE knows our thoughts.
A Jew who yearns for Shabbos and Torah and Tefilah (Prayer) and kedusha (holiness) from a prison makes great waves up in heaven. It does not go unnoticed. Trust that it makes the headlines. It is instantly filmed and recorded and the tzadikim (righteous ones) get to see the previews and they give their raving reviews on the film and it gets rated and it tips the scales of judgment to mercy.
No, Yosef, your lonely Shabbos in prison scores a much higher rating than you give it. Even higher than a big tzadik and thousands of followers having a holy Tish [meal with a saintly leader] or farbrengen together (Holy gathering). You Baruch Hashem (Thank G-D) have many beautiful Shabbasim [Sabbaths] in your Shabbos memory bank. Bring them to the surface. Focus on them. And since your present reality does not equal the experience of those memories, tell Hashem how much you and all of Am Yisroel (Jewish nation) are longing for the Yom Shekulo Shabbos, the day that is the eternal Shabbos.
If your Shabbos food is pitiful say "Taamu, Ur’rooh Ki Tov Hashem (Taste and see that Hashem is good)." I heard that you refuse to eat the Cholov Akum (Milk that has no supervision) and because of this Hashem will surely spoon feed you with a spiritual sustenance that will be way more rewarding than a mere piece of chocolate. Any sacrifice that you do for the sake of Hashem will not only bring you great merit but it will bring merit and protection to all your future generations as well.
When Yosef Hatzadik [forefather Joseph] was in prison, though his own suffering and loneliness was very painful, he never the less showed compassion and concern to all other prisoners. He listened to them. He cheered them up. He strengthened them. He greeted them with a smile and thereby he became very beloved by all. All these incidents eventually led to his becoming the Viceroy of Egypt and he achieved great status.
You too Yosef, have a genuine opportunity to make a great Kiddush Hashem [example of holiness] and I believe that you will succeed in your mission. You have what it takes to be an example. May Hashem bless you with Nesiyas Chein (charm) and S’yata D’shmaya (heavenly assistance) and Simcha D’Kedusha (Holy joy). May He fill you with a strength you never knew you possessed. May He inspire you with profound thoughts and holy insights. Just like he sent Yosef down to Mitzrayim (Egypt) on a wagon of sweet smelling spices when it could have been manure, so too may He never stop sending you sweet Besamim (spices) to compensate for your difficult test.
Just keep thinking of creative ways to elevate every thought and every feeling to the highest possible level.
Whenever you feel down or experience emotional pain attach that pain to the pain of the Shechina Hakedosha, (Divine Presence) to the pain of Am Yisroel (Jewish Nation). Whenever you feel that the constriction of the prison rules are bringing you to the level of a servant remind yourself that all you really want to be is an "EVED HASHEM” (Servant of G-D) like Moshe Rabaynu [Moses our leader] that Hashem called “AVDI MOSHE (My Servant Moshe)." like it says "Ki Eved Ne’eman Karasa Lo (For a loyal Servant have you called Him)" and tell that to Hashem.
Tell Him everything that lies within your heart, tell him all the longings of your soul and tell him about all the troubles that can break a man’s spirit. There is no place void of Hashem’s existence. He is right there with you all the time. And where is there a more appropriate place than where you are now, to scream to Hashem and tell him "Mema’amakim Karasicha (from the depths do I call upon you)." You are named after Rebbi Yosef and therefore you possess a nitzutz Kadosh (holy spark) of his soul. Who can even begin to fathom what important tikunim (rectifications) your ordeal is accomplishing both here and in the upper worlds? Yes, the price you and your family are paying is quite high. Your physical reality stings but the world of thought that you can enter into has unlimited potential. The closeness you can reach in your relationship to Hashem has no boundaries and cannot be confined within prison walls.
The contribution you are making towards the coming of Moshiach [Messiah] will become crystal clear when the entire story will be revealed.
Things are not always the way they appear to be.
On the surface it appears that you are in prison and all of us out there are free men. Wrong. Very wrong.
Are we not all prisoners of our own egos? Are we not all prisoners to the Galus (Exile) mentality? Are we not all prisoners to the desire for wealth and honor and greed?
Are we not considered prisoners when the desire to be right is stronger than our desire for peace and unity amongst us?
Are we not prisoners when we the sons of the King behave as if we are the sons of the maidservant?
Are we not prisoners when the King longs to redeem us and we do not prepare properly to appear before the Parole board.
Don't get me wrong. Klal Yisroel [Jewry] is an awesome nation. Hashem has no other nation like us. The Torah and Chesed (Kindness) and Mesirus nefesh (Sacrifice) of Am Yisroel is one of a kind. The problem is that we are sooo close to the Grand Finale that the forces trying to stop this Geulah (Redemption) from happening are putting up some major and frightening road blocks and in spite of all our great efforts we still maintain a Galus (Exile) mentality.
Perhaps you, an innocent man sitting in an actual prison has the power to help redeem us who appear as free men but walk around in the seemingly free world with the consciousness of Galus (Exile). Perhaps because you are imprisoned your focus on Sheevisi Hashem L’negdi Tamid (Hashem is always before me-in my range of vision) is so much more meaningful. Perhaps because you are imprisoned every holy thought you succeed in having is so much more powerful.
I heard that you take a walk every day. I heard that the view is actually a very nice one. Consider this fact like Yosef Hatzadik’s [forefather Jospeh's] wagon of Besamim (Spices). It could have been a dark and dreary slum looking trail. Imagine that while you are walking you say to Hashem “Samachti B’omrim Li, Bais Hashem Nailaich” (I was happy when I was told to walk to the House of Hashem).
Imagine that while you are walking you say to Hashem "Omdos Hayu Raglaynu Bisharayich Yerushalayim (My feet used to stand in your gates in Jerusalem)." Imagine that you visualize all of Am Yisroel walking to greet Moshiach [Messiah]. Imagine all of Am Yisroel [Jewry] running joyously to our beautiful Bais Hamikdash, (Holy Temple) to be Oleh Regel (Walk by foot to festivals).
Imagine Techiyas Hamaysim (Resurrection of the dead). Imagine the dead bones getting up and walking and even dancing. There are so many good things to imagine. True, you are in prison but in spite of this reality the best is yet to come. For you personally and for all of Am Yisroel.
Worrying about your family, not having enough healthy food, sleeping on a very uncomfortable mattress, all have the potential to be great stressors.
I want to remind you that stress is not beneficial to your overall health and well being. So what can you do about it? Again, it is a matter of choice.
Choose to be calm. Hashem is in total control. He is the one that decides when the precise moment of your release will arrive. Choose to have faith. A person who succeeds in his level of Emunah (faith) and Bitachon (confidence in GOD) is a happy man no matter what his circumstances are. If I am happy, well I Baruch Hashem [thank GOD] have many reasons to be. If you succeed in being happy even while your situation feels like you are chained in iron bars, well that is a whole different level. What you cannot change, you simply cannot change. The mitzvah (Good deed) of being B’simcha (Joyous) applies even behind prison walls but the reward for achieving such spiritual joy is beyond human comprehension.
Your saving grace is your world of thought and the ability to recognize the value of time because in prison one is acutely aware of time. Connect to tzadikim (the righteous). Say their names. Ask them to pull strings on your behalf. Pray for all of Am Yisroel.
The rope is wrapped tightly around all of our necks. Pray for all other Yiden behind bars. Pray for Jonathan Pollard Yonnasan ben Malka to instantly be redeemed from his nightmare.
Pray for all the lost and the sick and the lonely, for all the soul mates that are longing to find each other, for all the wars and the strife to end, for all the Tzaar Gidul Banim (pain of raising children), for all the childless, for all those struggling so terribly with Parnassa (Earning a livelihood) Pray for Tikun Ha’Olam (rectification of this world), for Hisgalus Kvod Shamayim (revelation of G-D’s glory), for Biyas Hamoshiach (Arrival of Messiah).
Yosef ben Esther, there is no scale large enough that can weigh or measure the value of your prayers at this place and time. I imagine that every day when you say "Baruch Ata Hashem Matir Asurim (Blessed are you G-D who redeems those who are captive)" you shake the heavens and tears fall from the Throne of Glory. How difficult it must be for Hashem to watch you going through all this as it says "B’chul Tzaarosam lo Tzaar (He knows the reason behind all this)" yet He knows that you do not.
My holy tzadik used to say "Tzadik B’emunaso Yichyeh" (A righteous man lives by his faith) many times a day. He heard and saw so much Yiddishe Tzoros (Jewish troubles) on a daily basis and there was no other way to survive it but to proclaim a constant declaration, stating, that the only way to live and survive is with blind faith.
Before I end this letter I ask your forgiveness if there was anything I wrote that was perhaps insensitive to your feelings or situation. I ask you to judge me favorably and believe that my intention is pure and that I was simply trying to find ways to strengthen your being and give you some spiritual coping tools to help you survive this nightmare. It is now 7:20 A.M and I began writing this letter at 9:00 P.M last night.
These words were in my heart and thoughts since the moment you left to prison camp. Every day I meant to write and every day, endless times a day, I thought about you and your dear wife and your lovely children and the trauma of this severe test. I cried and I prayed and I began asking Hashem to give me words that will enter your heart and that you can actually apply to your reality. I wrote letters on your behalf and put them into my holy tzadik’s siddur (Prayer book).
Every day I wanted to write and meant to write and yet all this time has passed without actually writing. So last night I just stopped the world and decided that whatever it takes, I must mail this letter. Do I feel tired from sitting at my computer all night? Absolutely not. I feel joyous that I controlled time rather than have time constantly control me.
I feel hopeful that perhaps you will feel my sincerity and this letter will actually strengthen you. Shall you succeed on this path you will be transformed into a totally new being. Instead of feeling like you are in prison, you will suddenly open your eyes and say "Ma Norah HaMakom Hazeh” (How awesome is this Place?)" because constantly thinking holy thoughts and elevating unholy sounds and sights and feelings make you walk hand in hand with Hashem, bringing spiritual sustenance to your soul and holy joy to your heart.
You will feel totally embraced by Hashem. You will feel the pleasure of overcoming challenge.
You will taste the joy of the rippling effect of one holy thought linking you to another and another until you will fulfill the commandment of Kadaish Atzmecha B’Mutaar Luch (Sanctify yourself even with that which is permissible) and Kedoshim Ti’hiyu Kee Kadosh Ani Hashem Elokaichem (Be holy, because I your G-D am holy).
You have a rare possibility to exchange challenge to opportunity. To become a prayer. To be a Mailitz Tov (A good Advocate) for Am Yisroel. To rise to the level of even a bigger tzadik than you already are. To turn anger into acceptance, sadness into joy, unholy to holy. To play the role of the Kings Son and discard the mold of the maidservant’s son, if this is not possible in the prison itself then at least in relationship to Hashem and to yourself.
You are a very high neshama [soul] even though I know that you are humble and you view yourself as a simple Jew. You are held in high esteem by all those who know you and care about you. We are all praying for you and every prayer adds up. Hashem is surely listening. “Gam Ze Yaavor” (This too shall pass). Your wife will survive. She too, will get through this with the help of Hashem. Malky and I are planning to visit her, this week iy’h [GOD willing].
This severe difficulty will pass. Your children will grow from this experience as well. They are sooo special, Bli Ayin Hara. Do not feel responsible for what your children are going through. They are not your children by accident. They fit into this entire plan perfectly. Hashem knows precisely what it is they need to help them grow.
With the love of Hashem, with your love and their mother's love and devotion, they will get through this with flying colors, B’ezras Hashem [with GOD's help].
I am enclosing 2 snapshots of my holy husband (one for you and one for Yaakov) that I hope will uplift you and comfort you and elevate you to reach greater heights. The Rebbe actually turned into such an awesome tzadik by living in the Russian KGB dessert which was terribly void of anything holy. He had no learning Chavrusa, (Partner) no Shomer Shabbos (Sabbath Observant) or Shomrai Torah [Torah-oriented] families in the entire town of Ribnitz. He was the only one. A single Jew struggling to serve Hashem and spread his holy name and make an impact on the precious lost Jews surrounding him. Being under the ruler ship of the KGB was equivalent to being in prison. And yet, he successfully succeeded into transforming his circumstances to his benefit.
Remember Yosef, for you too, the sky is the limit. Do not merely surrender or settle for second best. Use this opportunity to the very last drop. Squeeze the maximum potential of holiness out of the minimal capacity in which you find yourself immersed in. Most people come out of prisons emotionally broken and psychologically scarred. Make a conscious decision NOW that this will NOT become your experience. On the contrary. You will emerge more balanced and stable, more joyous and more grateful, more determined and more inspired and enthusiastic, embracing the experience of life with holy awe and boundless love.
Reject the option that most prisoners surrender to with every fiber of your being. Tell yourself that you absolutely refuse to be scarred and angry and frightened. Command your cells and D.N.A to cooperate with this lifesaving decision. Involve your nefesh, Ruach and neshama in this irreversible decision as well.
In spite of your circumstances see yourself growing in stature. Getting depressed is simply NOT an option. It is understandable but it will merely intensify your pain and add another problem to your list of difficulties. On the contrary, practice getting calmer each day. Become aware and appreciative for the little pieces of Besamim (Spices) that Hashem will blow your way on the wings of your protective angels. Allow your prison experience to become your Tafel (Minor event) and allow your joyous spiritual experience, your growth, your Ahavas and Dvaikus Hashem, your Simcha D'Kedusha (Holy Joy) to become your Ikar (The Main thing).
Remember, to keep the main thing, the main thing. Like the Golf Club controlling the golf balls with such precision and exactitude, driving them into the proper holes, so, likewise, may your neshama guide your mind and heart and Remach Ayvarim (248 Limbs) and Shesay Gidim (365 Sinews) exactly as Hashem would want you to.
Do NOT allow prison life to leave scars on your being. Become a free man in spite of being in prison. Being a loyal Eved (Servant of) Hashem is the ultimate freedom the soul can experience.
Freedom from amidst the clutches of the Yetzer hara (Evil inclination) is the ticket to true joy. Truthfully if I were G-D forbid in your shoes could I practice all that I preach? I am really not sure. But your Neshama (Soul) does possess that potential. It is simple mathematics. Hashem put you there because He knows that you could do it. Everyone who knows you believes that you can do it. So go for your highest dream.
If the prison rules do not allow you to go the way you desire then at least attempt to make lemonade out of your lemons. Elevate every negative scenario into a positive one. Man can see with his mere physical eyes but Hashem can look deep into your heart. Keep it warm and open and allow Hashem to dwell inside it. Like Rebbe Nachman of Breslov says: "Hashem, please turn my Lev Evven (Heart of stone) into a Lev Bassar (Heart of flesh)."
With all that you already went through, it is so easy for your heart to turn into stone. Choose option #1, Leebee Uvesari Yiraninu L'Kayl Chai (let my heart and my flesh sing to the Living eternal G-D).
Yosef, have no fear. Moshiach can appear any moment now. Yerushalayim [Jerusalem] will once again stand proud in all her glory. Our Holy Bais Hamikdash [Temple] will be rebuilt. It will be the most beautiful structure on planet earth. Techiyas Hamaysim [resurection of the dead] will be a wonder to behold. We will meet all our Patriarchs and Matriarchs, our Prophets and Prophetess and all the holy ones mentioned in Tanach [Bible]. We will stand face to face with all the holy ones who are the backbone of our nation. They who are our pride and our joy. Hashem will perform even greater miracles than in Mitzrayim (Egypt). We will be happy as many as the days in which we were pained. Then will our mouths be filled with laughter and our tongues with joyous song. And you and your family will have V.I.P seats in the front row. I can see you dancing with Moshiach "Hayinu Kicholmim" and then this entire nightmare will be like a bygone dream, with only a faint memory of the path and the reward it has lead you to.
Hashem is good. You are good. Am Yisroel is good.
Hashem is holy. You are holy. Am Yisroel is holy.
And in the blink of an eye, the entire world will know this…
When I became engaged to my holy tzadik the engagement happened so quickly, from beginning to end, a mere few hours. When we drank L’chaim the Rebbe told me as follows and I quote: "You see how quickly and suddenly we just got engaged. This is exactly how it will be when Moshiach arrives. Galus, Galus, Galus, (Exile, Exile, Exile) and in the blink of an eye Geulah (Redemption). Amen V’Amen!!!"
And lots of hope.
Frayda Milka Abramowitz
[THE REBBETZIN NOW ADDRESSES RECIPIENTS OF HER E-MAIL ONCE AGAIN:]You also have my permission to share this letter with anyone whom you feel will be comforted, strengthened or inspired by it...
Just for the record: it took me 13 hours to write, proof read and edit this heartfelt letter. I hope this will compensate for making you wait this long when I should have written much sooner. Prisons are difficult places to open your heart up but try your utmost to open it never the less. And you know how good things have strong meniyos (setbacks or roadblocks). Well, about 11:00 A.M. I was just about to close my computer and finally get some sleep when I pushed some who knows what button on my computer and the last 2 pages got all mixed up and it took me hours to fix it and figure it out. So now it is 4:00 P.M. and I am finally going to rest. So this brings your letter to a final countdown of 19 hours. Something tells me it will be worth its time in gold.
I translated some of the Hebrew words into English, not because I thought you do not understand them. It was simply in case you want to share it with any Jew in prison that does not understand Hebrew.
I also want to thank you with all my heart because in the process of writing, proof reading, editing and upgrading, I have read this letter many times and I must admit that I myself became very inspired and moved and listened with my heart and soul to the advice which I was giving you and feeling that how can I dare give you such advice if I do not implement these words into the reality of my own life as it applies. So yes definitely, it reached me and touched me in a very real and deep way. It is your zchus (merit), forever and ever. Thank you... Thank you... Be blessed…
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can use my mailing address: Rimnitzer Rebbetzin, PO Box 21, Monsey NY 10952
And now with the help of Hashem, I would like to share some thoughts which my brother has passed on to me from the teachings of a very special Jew in Yerushalayim, Reb Yaakov Mayer Schechter (may he be blessed with health and length of days) that applies to our present topic.
There is a general rule, that when an individual is in any kind of a difficult circumstance it is not the technical situation he finds himself to be trapped in that carries any weight. It is rather his personal interpretation of how he himself perceives the situation surrounding his circumstance. The following example is crystal clear proof to back up this theory.
We all know that Hashem spoke to Noach [Noah] and He told him that He is planning to bring a major flood upon planet earth and all humanity will perish to the exclusion of Noach, his wife and his three sons. Hashem explained to Noach that he has found grace in the eyes of Hashem paying him an extraordinarily meaningful compliment and placing him in the V.I.P status, surely succeeding in making him feel most privileged. Then Hashem proceeded to give him very specific directions and explained to him the precise, proposed building plans. He should build a Tayvah, an ark, and cover it with tar, no windows, and no doors, and he must follow the exact given measurements. He should bring in two of each animal, one male and one female, every bird, every beast, every roach and fly, and he and his family would be responsible for supplying their nourishment and feeding them around the clock with barely any sleep. He was told that it would take him 120 years just to build this ark and prepare it for use.
Now let us pause for a moment and try to imagine what it would be like and feel like if Noach and his family were suddenly to find themselves in this ark without the revelation of Hashem, explaining to him what His true intension is. Wouldn’t they all be justified to feel as if they were just sentenced to exile in Siberia? Wouldn’t this entire scenario feel like pure Gehenom? Noach is an old man and he and his family are stuck in an enclosed area for over a year’s time with no windows, no doors, no air condition, sharing their quarters with thousands of different wild animals and strange looking creatures. No day, no night, no sky, no sun, no trees, no flowers, no view… They are working slave labor around the clock to feed all these animals and creatures of different shapes and sizes... The stench in their nostrils, the achiness in their bones, no social life whatsoever and then the snake bites him (based on a particular Medrash) and the lion attacks him. Wow! What a horror! What a nightmare! How depressing! How constricting! This was his undeniable reality. So why wasn’t he horrified? The answer is quite simple. Hashem revealed His intention. Hashem made him feel privileged, beloved, chosen for a higher purpose, for a greater mission. To further humanity and to save the extinction of the human race. Nations would come forth from his offspring. The world would have continuum. The desire of Hashem would be fulfilled by his effort and sacrifice. The purpose of creation would manifest. His sweat and toil was surely not in vain. Noach was a happy and jolly man. He was driven, strengthened and comforted by his most privileged destiny. No he was definitely not in Siberia. He was definitely not in prison. His intimacy with Hashem was exhilarating. Hashem spoke to him. Hashem reasoned with him. Hashem singled him out to be saved. He knew this. He understood this and he always remembered these facts.
Dear precious Nashim Tzidkanios (Holy women), each and every single one of us live in a “Tayvas Noach (Noah’s Ark)” and we must believe with all sincerity that there is a specific, higher and most exalted purpose to the seeming insanity we find ourselves imprisoned in.
We must believe that Hashem is a merciful Father and everything that befalls us is surely to our greatest benefit. Just because Hashem has not personally appeared to us to explain His exalted intension does not mean that there is none or that He has none. Noach knew and understood. We do not know nor do we understand but we must believe without the shadow of a doubt that our situation has an explanation that possesses just as much clarity and is precisely designed to fit our higher purpose and has reasoning just as sweet and just as compassionate as Noach in his Tayvah (Ark). Reb Yaakov Mayer Schechter ended by saying, "Yiddelech, for every single hardship that you are going through the time will yet come when you will sing and dance and praise Hashem for every nuance of your particular challenge."
The Lellever Rebbe ZT’L was once in Uman by Rebbe Nachman's tzion [grave] in the winter when it was bitterly cold and he stood next to a young bachur [man] who had torn shoes that barely had any soles left. After many hours of intense prayer he heard the Bacher say as follows: "Hashem, I beg of you, my feet feel totally frozen: Or you give me a brand new pair of shoes or you give me the wisdom to comprehend that these shoes without any soles are also good for me."
Believing that there is another side to the story lightens the burden of every given challenge. Trusting that Hashem is designing every single movement of our lives gives direct meaning to our suffering.
Another story is told about a young man who came to the previous Belzer Rebbe ZT’L and told him that he has forsaken almost every mitzvah in the Torah and transgressed upon almost every Avaira (transgression) possible and that he is now filled with great remorse and he would like the Rebbe to tell him what he can do to properly repent and that he is willing to take one exclusive mitzvah (good deed) upon himself to the point of great sacrifice in order to be guaranteed that after 120 his evil deeds will not even be mentioned to him so that he does not have to experience the tremendous shame and pain of his misdeeds. The Rebbe pondered the matter thoughtfully and then lovingly advised him as follows: "Listen to me, it is most meritorious that you have such a burning desire to repent and Hashem will surely reward your efforts. But if you are truly sincere I would advise you to go and find a wonderful, intelligent, holy girl who has been stricken with the latest polio epidemic and marry her. All the Chesed that you will do for her throughout your life will earn you such great merit that I guarantee you that your severe sins will not even be mentioned in the world to come. The young man cried from sheer joy and relief and took the Rebbe’s advice very serious. He actually married such a girl and was even blessed to have a few children with her. He treated her royally, personally took care of all her physical needs without hiring any outside help and built a meaningful relationship with her always finding ways to bring her comfort, friendship and joy. Today some fifty years later he is still catering to her every need, lifting her and her braces and crutches in the car, out the car, housework, meals, real heavy duty work. He not only helped raise his children but he actually, physically took care of them as well, a difficult job that does not come naturally to a father. Yet, he toiled endlessly for many years with a great measure of pure love. And he is a most happy man; tired, exhausted, perhaps even a bit strained as he is not getting younger and his job is getting even harder…
Now let us pause for a moment to ponder on how different his life would be if he had married a perfectly healthy and normal girl and G-D forbid a few months after the wedding she would have an accident and become an invalid and all his life he would be struggling to take care of her and cater to her every need. How sorrowful would life feel? What a tremendous burden that would be for him? All his friends would have such seemingly simple lives compared to him: Poor him…What a tragedy…How unfortunate he would feel: especially if he would compare his life to that of his family and friends. But this man is a happy man, driven by a higher purpose and focusing on his ultimate goal and connecting more intimately to Hashem. He knows that every time he is in the giving mode, the more difficult the situation, the cleaner his slate appears, the shinier his soul sparkles. He has been given a genuine promise by a genuine and exalted tzadik and he knows and he understands that every moment this very promise is in action, coming alive with meaning and achieving its destined intension.
My precious friends, we are at the threshold of redemption. The birth pangs of this era are most powerful. The Presidential campaign, the Stock Market constantly falling, the situation in the Israeli Government and our enemies are not very silent in their most determined intensions to annihilate us, G-D Forbid. The three young boys being tortured in a cold heartless Japanese prison with no verdict yet in sight is most haunting and fearful. What a Gezayra [hardshipl! How can a parent survive such heart wrenching agony? If one merely tries to imagine the plight of these young and innocent boys the heart cries, the soul is distressed and the spirit is broken.
Every moment is experienced as more than an eternity. Hashem Yerachem!! Hashem Yerachem!! Who knows? Who Knows? Perhaps the agonizing suffering of these three boys will minimize the Chevlay Moshiach (birth pangs prior to the coming of Moshiach) for the entire Am Yisroel (Nation of Israel) and just like on Purim: the tree that Mordechai was to be hung on was used for Haman: and the death of the Jews turned into the death of the enemy: If we only knew: If we only understood: How different would it be: Perhaps the souls of these three boys happily volunteered for this mission. What do we know? And Jonathan Pollard. Over twenty years in prison. What a great and horrific injustice! What heartache! But Hashem has his plans and soon, soon, they will be revealed in great joy.
Not to mention each of our personal stories. Such Tzaar Gidul Banim! So many children at risk! Shalom Bayis [marital and family] problems, mental illness, physical illness, poverty, the shidduch [singles] crises, infertility, strife, widows, orphans, and on and on…
Nashim Tzidkanios [holy female souls]! It is our joint efforts and genuine Teshuva [repentance] that the final redemption will materialize. In spite of all this Hashem wants us to be happy. For all the right reasons. That Hashem loves us… that we are such an exalted nation… that we have faith… that we are believers… that we possess inherent holiness… that Moshiach will arrive… that the Bais Hamikdash will be rebuilt… that our mouths will yet be filled with laughter and our tongues with joyous song… Hashem will no longer peek at us from behind the crevices… His glory will be revealed. His Holy Shechina [softer, feminine aspect]will be exalted... no Jew will be left out… each one of us will have the status of the king’s sons and the king’s daughters… Yes, Nashim Tzidkanios! The best is yet to come and like my holy husband ZT’L always said to me, "Galus, Galus, Galus and in one second Geulah…AMEN V’AMEN…KAIN YEHEE RATZON!!!"
Monsey, NY USA