Text of Esther Pollard's Speech at Pre Yom Kippur Workshop
Yom Iyun in Kiryat Arba - October 7, 2008 - 8 Ellul 5769H
Translated to English by J4JP
Jonathan and I are honored to be here with you today in Kiryat Arba to participate in this Yom Iyun on the Eve of Yom Kippur.
Jonathan and I live our lives believing, every single day, that today is the day that Hashem will set Jonathan free and bring him home. We really hoped and prayed that Jonathan would be here in person today to address you himself, but apparently Hashem has other plans for the moment. Nevertheless, Jonathan is with us in spirit, and he has helped and supported me in preparing my words for today, even choosing the title of this talk, RedemptionĚ.
When Jonathan called last night, I asked him for permission to share a personal story with you which we have never shared publicly before. He asked me what my goal is, why I want to share this particular story. After I explained, he gave me the ok. The story is about our beloved Rav, HaRav HaGaon HaMekubal, Rav Mordechai Eliyahu, shlita.
A little background: There is a special connection between HaRav Eliyahu and my husband Jonathan that cannot be described in words. To see the two of them together is to witness a phenomenon. The entire room is filled with light. Just try to imagine a visiting room in a prison filled with light! Other people need a lot of words to communicate, but not Jonathan and the Rav. They simply understand. They look into each others eyes and understand each other perfectly, with or without words.
Whenever the Rav would visit Jonathan " I had the privilege of being present at most of these meetings - as the Rav would enter the room Jonathan would rush to greet him, bending down to kiss his hand. This is a sign of love and respect that a student shows to his Rav, or to his father. The Rav, for his part, would not allow Jonathan to remain in this position and would immediately raise him up and kiss him on both cheeks. They would then embrace like father and son. Indeed the Rav has adopted Jonathan as a son, and that is exactly how they relate to each other.
Over the years, whenever I have gone to the Rav for advice or direction, the first thing he always asks me is: What does Jonathan say?Ě I tell him what Jonathan says and he invariably replies, Do exactly as Jonathan says.Ě
Jonathan and the Rav always see eye-to-eye. I believe that on the level of the soul, spiritually, there is the equivalent of a hot-link between them. That is the background, now for the story:
About 2 years ago, just before Purim, I met with the Rav at his new office. Key members of his staff -- people who over the years have become good friends of ours-- sat in on the meeting as they usually do.
I updated the Rav on Jonathan's condition and on everything that had been going on, legally, in terms of the media, and about all of the Israeli Government's latest dirty tricks. Among other things, at the time Jonathan was very ill and we were going through a particularly frightening time.
After updating the Rav, I turned to him with an urgent request: Kavod HaRav, you always say that Jonathan is a ėben bayit' (just like a son) to you.Ě The Rav smiled and nodded enthusiastically.
I continued,Ě Just as Jonathan is a ben bayit to you, Kavod HaRav is a ėben bayit' to HaKodesh Baruchu.Ě There were smiles and nods all around when I said this.
Kavod HaRav, as a ėben bayit' in the HaKodesh Baruchu's abode, there must be something His Honor can do to move things forward. If His Honor doesn't do something soon, to move things in Heaven, I am afraid¶I don't know what will be¶Ě
The Rav is very humble. He never reveals that he has special powers or skills. Nevertheless, it is an open secret that Kavod HaRav Mordechai Eliyahu is the senior-most Kabbalist of our generation -- a Mekubal ben Mekubal, who studied under the greatest Kabbalists of Eretz Yisrael. When I pleaded with the Rav to do something, Jonathan and I both assumed that there would be some special prayers, or intentions, or something Kabbalistic that he could do.
The Rav listened intently and he gave me to understand that he had heard my request and that he would do as I had asked.
I did not see the Rav again for many months. I wanted to, but he was not receiving anyone. He was not well. He had developed severe back problems. He did not come into the office at all. His gabbaim kept us updated. The Rebbitzin was arranging for every kind of treatment under the sun, and insisting that he try them all. Nothing was helping. He was in so much pain that his staff even had to trade in his car because it was too low to the ground and he could not get in and out without excruciating pain.
It was towards the end of August that I finally saw the Rav again. That was the first time he was able to receive anyone and it was clear to me, knowing him so well, that he was terribly uncomfortable during the meeting. He was very pale. Though he uttered not a word of complaint and he greeted me as warmly as ever, he was obviously in pain and it was hard for him to sit for long.
I told the Rav that I had brought him an urgent message from Jonathan. He leaned forward and gave me his full attention.
Kavod HaRav, the last time I was here, we asked His Honor, to please do something to move things in Heaven. We said that if His Honor did not do something to move things, that we were afraid of what might happen.Ě The Rav agreed that that was correct. I continued, Jonathan says that he wants Kavod HaRav to know that we did not mean that Kavod HaRav should take terrible ėyissurim' (affliction) upon himself! Jonathan says that this was not our intention and he does not want the Rav to do this!
The Rav smiled and his face fairly beamed with light. He responded, Tell your husband he is brilliant!Ě
But Kavod HaRav,Ě I protested, Jonathan does not want the Rav to do this. Jonathan does not want the Rav to suffer!Ě
Still smiling, the Rav just repeated, Tell your husband he is brilliant!Ě The subject was closed. No further discussion.
From that time on, the Rav has not had a single well day. Quite the opposite. The worse things have been for Jonathan the worse they get for the Rav.
For example, it was exactly at the same time that Jonathan was under attack in the media, because of the arrest of Kaddish some 6 months ago, that the Rav had his first heart attack. His situation has been up and down since then. Mostly down, like Jonathan. Also just like Jonathan, the Rav survives by miracle after miracle.
So what do we learn from this? How can this help us? How can we help the Rav? And how can we help Jonathan?
Whether we understand the process or not " how a Tzadik goes about taking yissurim upon himself " this is an accepted part of our mystic tradition. This is process is very serious and not one that is easily reversed.
Jonathan and the Rav are both in desperate need of Divine Grace. Neither one is suffering for his own tikkun. Their suffering is a call to Am Yisrael to wake up and turn back to the Borei HaOlam -- to start praying!
His Honor Kavod HaRav Eliyahu is now sharing the mission that Jonathan carried by himself for the last two decades. It is a mission that generates public attention, invites Am Yisrael to do Tshuva, and requires the Am to pray and pray and pray and pray some more!
In fact, the truth is Jonathan and Kavod HaRav Eliyahu are in the same boat as all of Am Yisrael today. All of Am Yisrael is in a very bad situation today. Among other things we are facing the imminent threat of nuclear war, the threat of world-wide financial collapse, along with never ending terror attacks, bizarre natural disasters, as well as a number of other life-threatening situations and problems. If we are to survive, it will only be through Divine Grace. We are all in the same boat. There is no one else, but HaKadosh Baruchu who can save us all.
Both Jonathan and the Rav are suffering mightily in an attempt to arouse all of AM Yisrael to do complete Tshuva and to turn our focus to the only power in the world that can help us and save us " not to the Knesset, not to the Bank Manager, not to the gods of gashmiut (the material world); not to the Army, nor to the Boursa (stock exchange), nor to the Ministers of Israel and certainly not to the Prime Minister! There is only ONE. Only Hakadosh Baruchu. He holds the hearts of Kings and men in His Hands.
The only way we can save Kavod HaRav, is the only way we can save Jonathan, is the only way we can save all of the shevuyim and nedarim, is the only way we can save the Holy City of Hebron and Maarat HaMachpela, is the only way we can save ourselves personally. We have to go to the top. We have to go to the only true source of power in this world, to the King of Kings, to the Borei HaOlam, the Creator of the World.
The way that we turn to Hashem, the Creator of the World is in prayer.
Prayer is a meta-physical force that acts upon the physical world. It also acts upon the hearts and souls of men. Prayer can change people; prayer can change the world! We need to ensure that we make the best possible use of this great gift, this great power that Hashem has given to us.
If prayer is the best weapon that Am Yisrael possesses, group prayer is the ultimate weapon! The power of group prayer is enormous.
I'd like to take a moment now and teach you a little formula that helps us to understand the power of group prayer. According to HaRav HaGaon, Ha'Mekubal, HaRav Motsofi, who cites the Holy Zohar, there is a simple method by which one can understand the value of each additional person who joins his fellows in prayer. For example, 1 person who prays alone has the prayer power of 1; whereas when 2 pray together, they have the prayer power of 21. When three pray together, they have the prayer power of 321, and 4 have the prayer power of 4,321 and so on. According to this system, a minyan (of ten people) praying together has a prayer power that is equal to more than 10 billion!
According to the formula in the Holy Zohar, take any number of people praying together in a group. Write the number in a countdown, adding each additional person to the left of the original number 1 in the group. In other words when 5 people pray together, the prayer power is 5, 4, 3,2,1 or fifty four thousand, three hundred, and twenty one. It is easy to see how we get to over 10 billion for a minyan! (See addendum below.)
The point is, we have with us today more than one minyan. Can you imagine the kind of prayer power we have?! It is enormous!
Let us please join together in prayer, to say the prayers from this special prayer card (which contains Nishmat Kol Chai and a special prayer for Jonathan) which will be distributed to you in a moment - and again, just imagine the prayer power we will have! We can storm the Heavens!
May G-d grant that in the merit of our joint prayer, from the depths of our hearts, and with focus and devotion, for Jonathan, for all the MIAs and captives, for Am Yisrael, and for the author of this prayer card, His Honor HaRav Mordechai Eliyahu, shlita, that we merit to see miracles and wonders! And may the verse be speedily fulfilled for us.