An Open Letter to Our Brother Dan*

HaRav Yosef Eliyahu - Mayanai HaYeshua, Jerusalem - May 13, 2004

[Translated from Hebrew by J4JP - May be reprinted with attribution]

Shalom dear Ambassador!

I thought I would bring to your attention some information which may be of interest to your principals in the United States. I refer to something that occurred in thousands of places all over Israel this past Leil HaSeder (Passover night).

While it is true that Israel and the United States do have an information-sharing agreement, an experienced ambassador like yourself knows that nations do not always live up to commitments of this kind. Therefore, as a private citizen, I feel it is right to share this information with you:

This Leil HaSeder we sat, as our forefathers have done for thousands of years, and we read the Haggadah. At the end of the seder, we said the sentence that has come to represent the eternal faith of the Jewish People: "L'Shana Habahah B'Yerushalyim HaBnuya!" ("Next year in Jerusalem rebuilt!") At our communal seder, a young father had a copy of the Haggadah with the commentary of HaRav Mordecai Elon (just like 20 thousand other families in Israel). He read aloud to his young son and we all listened to what is written in the comments just under the famous line "L'Shana Habahah...":

"After Natan Sharansky was sentenced to be sent to Siberia, he got up and said: 'You, Judge, think you are free, but I am the one who is truly free. Although my body may be enslaved, my spirit will remain free because I have not surrendered to your decrees, and I have remained true to my faith. But you, Judge, you were given your orders in advance and you were told what to say. Your body may be free, but your spirit is more enslaved than ever. I am far from my People, and what is expected for me are many long hard years of imprisonment. Now more than ever, I turn to Avital and to my People and I say: 'L'Shana Habahah B'Yerushalyim HaBnuya! Next year in Jerusalem rebuilt!'"

The adults at our seder, hearing this anecdote, recalled how the Soviet Union of that time was such a world power that it was ridiculous to think that anyone could exert pressure on it (just like the US today.) And what audacity this young man had, who stood strong, not knowing that in less than 20 years the prison his body was sent to (the Soviet Union) would be in ruins and he would already be settled in Jerusalem for years before that and doing well.

Then we all spoke of the 'Sharansky' of our generation, Jonathan Pollard.

Young men and women - the generation of the future - sang the popular folksong about Jonathan (authored by HaRav Shlomo Aviner). They recounted with emotion his very touching story; a story about a man who has remained true to his principles. About how Jonathan's body is imprisoned by a world power, but how he has steadfastly remained true to his Jewish faith - his spirit remains invincible! About Jonathan, who of course also said "L'Shana Habahah B'Yerushalyim HaBnuya!" on Leil HaSeder, as he was thinking about his wife Esther and about the thousands of people, weak in strength, but toiling mightily for him. About the man who again this year, got nothing from his captors, but bread and water for Pesach and a lot of "maror" (bitters).

I thought that your principals in the US would like to know that this same scene with its in-depth discussions about Pollard took place in thousands of homes that night. For many, Pollard's plight has revealed the true face of your principals.

On other issues, it is hard to know what motivates your principals. For example: is their development of sophisticated, modern weapons of war being carried out and sold to other nations to help weaker nations defend themselves, and for the sake of "world peace"? Or is it strictly commercial, to enrich the coffers of the US? Or, another example, their involvement in our region. Is it altruistic, or could it be for the principle of "divide and conquer"? Or... - who knows!

But on the issue of Pollard, they will not find anyone who will defend them. Even our media, their ever-faithful servant, criticizes them on this issue.

Please tell your principals - who are making such great efforts to appear as the paragon of morality and as bearers of a "just solution" for the world - that the Pollard case works to their detriment. It erodes their integrity and their credibility. Damages the spiritual underpinnings of the nation. Thus, whomever wants to harm the United States, has only to oppose freedom for Jonathan Pollard.

To conclude, on a personal note, something which will certainly cheer you. As a Torah-observant Jew, you have learned what has happened to those who have harmed Jews - from Pharaoh on his throne, to Saddam sitting in a spider hole. You also know that he who assists those who harm Jews, he who enters their 'Haggadah', their nest of wickedness, so to speak - it is not a good sign for him. But not to worry. When things fall apart, you will always be welcome to make Aliyah and live here with us - after all we are all sons of the same father.

Bio Note:

HaRav Yosef Eliyahu is the Rosh Kollel of Beit HaMidrash Darkei Hora'ah L'Rabbanim in Jerusalem. The Kollel operates under the auspices of his esteemed father, HaRav Mordecai Eliyahu, former Chief Rabbi of Israel.


"Our Brother Dan" is Daniel Kurtzer, the American Ambassador to Israel.