Chazal teach that captivity is the worst of all possible afflictions because it includes all the other afflictions:
“The sword is worse than death, famine is worse than the sword, captivity is worst of all” (Bava Basra 8a).
The worst days in captivity for a Jewish captive are Shabbos and Jewish holidays. Even without a Jewish calendar, the neshama of the captive senses the extra Kedusha of these days, and its suffering is increased exponentially, not only because of the afflictions it is enduring, but especially because of its inability to act upon the Kedusha.
There is little consolation for a soul that is fettered and deprived of the most basic Jewish expression at holiday times – how much more so during the Yamim Noraim.
The letters that Jonathan is receiving at this time are his lifeline, his reassurance that people on the outside care very deeply. Jonathan often remarks to his wife, Esther, how very much he enjoys the letters and how varied they are. They run the gamut, he said, from one end of the spectrum to the other in terms of stories, anecdotes, prayers, and personal life experiences. Some people write of how they much are praying for Jonathan, others recount personal problems so severe that Jonathan is now praying for them (along with all of his prayers for Am Yisrael).
Most people express the hope that Jonathan will write back, but he simply is not able to. Why not? Because all of his out-going mail is routed via the National Security Agency in Washington where it is supposedly “vetted” to ensure that it does not contain classified information. In the process of being “vetted” somehow all of his out-going mail gets lost or destroyed. It does not reach its destination. This is an age-old vengeful technique that is intended to demoralize a prisoner.
Fortunately, Jonathan does receive all of his incoming mail. Incoming mail goes directly to the prison mailroom where it is checked to ensure that the letter is in English and does not contain any contraband. (No bubble gum, stamps, glitter, stickers, money etc permitted). Only letters and photos are permitted (Photos in modest quantity: up to 5). Letters in Hebrew are shown to Jonathan very briefly (not sufficient time for him to read) and then discarded; it is clearly preferable to write in English.
As soon as the mailroom staff checks the mail, it is distributed and Jonathan receives all of his letters, without exception.
Especially now at holiday time, please keep writing! Please know that all of your letters reach Jonathan as long as they are correctly addressed and contain no forbidden enclosures. Please know as well, how very much these letters mean to him.
Here is Jonathan’s address:
Jonathan Pollard #09185-016
c/o FCI Butner
P.O. Box 1000