Ten weeks ago, 12-year-old Tamar Fogel returned home on a Friday night after spending a pleasant evening with friends and found the door of her Itamar home locked. Sensing something was amiss, she summoned a neighbor. When she entered the home she screamed in horror, a reaction that would soon be duplicated throughout the Jewish world.
What her young eyes discovered was indescribable in its brutality: Arab terrorists had massacred her father and mother, her two younger brothers, and her baby sister. Only Tamar and two younger brothers survived the invasion.
All during the shivah, Tamar, exhibiting extraordinary levels of emunah and ahavas Yisrael, had a request of every dignitary who visited: that he or she do their utmost to gain the release of Jonathan Pollard.
Jonathan’s wife, Esther, also came to comfort young Tamar, and at her imprisoned husband’s behest she brought dolls for the orphaned children.
Tamar and her grandfather, Rabbi Yehudah Ben-Yishai, decided that they wanted to return the visit, and made plans to travel to the Butner, North Carolina, prison where Jonathan is held.
Though the arrangements were made in advance, it turned out that their visit last week was also for nichum aveilim, as Jonathan’s father was recently niftar.
It was an emotional two-hour visit for all, and Rabbi Ben-Yishai emerged amazed at Jonathan’s spiritual strength, in particular his mesirus nefesh to observe kashrus.
Also present at this visit was Rabbi Pesach Lerner, the Executive Vice President of the National Council of Young Israel, who has worked tirelessly for decades on Jonathan’s behalf. He subsequently told Hamodia that during the course of the conversation, Rabbi Ben-Yishai – a man who has just lost his daughter, his son-in-law and three precious grandchildren – commented, “When what happened happened, how is there emunah? We don’t teach emunah, we live emunah,” he explained. “We choose to serve Hashem, not how to serve Hashem. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s hard… In this generation, every minute …we must live emunah.”
One can only imagine the scene: a man who has already spent more than 25 years in prison for breaking the law (something for which he has repeatedly expressed remorse) while trying to help the Jews of Eretz Yisrael – a man who was not allowed a furlough even to say goodbye to his dying father or to attend his levayah – giving chizuk to and receiving chizuk from a twelve-year-old and her grandfather who had experienced such an unspeakable tragedy.
Many prominent people, ranging from top government officials to high-ranking national intelligence personnel to leading lawyers, have written to President Obama asking him to commute Pollard’s sentence to time served. The president has so far declined to heed their call. But the heart of a king is in the Hand of Hashem, and the tefillah of this precious orphan on behalf of Yehonasan ben Malka should have a unique power on High.
May Jonathan, his agony at last at an end, speedily merit to make a return visit to the home of Tamar in Eretz Yisrael.