By Yossi Drohr
The utter astonishment of the twenty-seven year sentence handed down to Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin seemed to have pulled the carpet out from under us. There is one emotion that is universal throughout the Torah observant community – shock.
We have all davened fervently for Rubashkin and his family’s welfare. We have signed petitions, written letters, attended rallies, and have donated funds. There is a profound sense of loss that Klal Yisroel is feeling. A loss confounded by the feeling of helplessness.
And we all ask the question: What does Hashem want us to do now for our unfortunate brother?
What the Torah wants us to do, of course, is to recognize the need for all of us to share in his pain – to be Nosei BeOhl Chaveiro. Our task now is to do what we have done for Mendel Beiles, for Alfred Dreyfus, and for the thousands of our brethren that were unfairly or excessively sentenced in the past – we must commiserate with the Rubashkins in their time of pain.
We should all take time now to know and feel what Mrs. Rubashkin is feeling, of putting ourselves in her shoes – of caring for their
children alone – without her life partner. Klal Yisroel is one nation, and our ability to empathize with our brethren is a well-honed part of who we are. We are united with Leah Rubashkin and her children, and with poor dear Sholom. Our reality is their reality.
Collectively we close our eyes and feel the metal bars before us in our uncomfortable, drab prison cells that we share silently with poor Sholom Rubashkin. We hear the sounds of the prison cell, where we will sit for the next 27 years. The sounds are filled with the nivul peh that surrounds us, as we carefully try to be marbeh sedrah, or do the Chitas or the daf. Remember trying to do it on the New York subways, and finding it impossible? Now it is infinitely harder.
The father, Reb Aharon, like our patriarch Yaakov Avinu, misses his son. The children miss their father, like some of us who have lost parents, miss our parents terribly. But they are so young – we were older when we lost ours.
Shma Yisroel Hashem Elokainu Hashem Echad – The word Shma is conjugated in the singular. Why? Because we have that unique ability to be one with each other in all the emotional components involved during a time of crisis. We sense and feel their pains and anxieties. It is not just about empathy – it is more.
There is something about Klal Yisroel, and our capacity for to think and feel into the life of “rayacha” that even the greatest enemies of our people have picked up upon. It is truly “Kamocha.”
All those accusations of the anti-semites throughout history about Jews watching out for each other. Well, they are correct – like a
brother, we are concerned. We cry for you, dear brother, Sholom. And for you, Leah. And for you, father Aharon.
We remember seeing fresh, kosher meat at supermarkets across the nation; in Rhode Island, Connecticut, heartland America and the eastern end of Long Island New York. And at unheard of prices.
Your accusers said that you took shortcuts to save money to put more in your pocket for your company. That is where they were wrong. You passed on whatever savings you had. Your meat was cheap and affordable.
Whatever you did, Reb Sholom Mordechai, was wrong – yes, and we must all learn the lesson that no matter what the circumstances we must never do an avlah, but you did it to save your business against a ruthless onslaught of an attack that has never before been seen in this country. And you were found innocent of the child labor charges.
You gave of yourself for Kashrus in this country – providing kosher meat at affordable prices and in places that they could never be
purchased. There were many that were gunning for you. There were those who attacked Kashrus. There were those who did not like business. And there were those that did not like the way you looked. There were also those, sadly, among our own brothers too, who wanted to put you away too
Tefillah, apparently, didn’t work here. Appeals to other politicians did not help. Hashem wants something more from us, it seems. Hashem wants action on our part to change the harsh reality.
What type of action? Concrete action. The only action that really is in our hands. Self-improvement. HaKol Bidei Shamayim chutz miYiras Shamayim.
And that is where Noseh BeOhl Chaveiro comes in. It is Yiras Shamayim which catapults us to improve in midos in our character. Through this, perhaps, Hashem will change the decree.