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Spreading Torah behind Bars

In a world rife with fake news and media so biased that it cannot be trusted or considered remotely objective, people would be forgiven for thinking that yellow journalism is a modern-day plague. But it even affected Rabbi Eliyahu numerous times over the years…

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No Rabbi

Adar I 13 5782
In a world rife with fake news and media so biased that it cannot be trusted or considered remotely objective, people would be forgiven for thinking that yellow journalism is a modern-day plague. But the term itself has been around since the 1890s — and the problem has existed even longer. And it even affected Rabbi Eliyahu numerous times over the years…

When he was involved with his work in the immigrant camps, the young Mordechai joined an underground group of youthful, idealistic religious activists who sought to stem the growing tide of secularism in the country.

The newspapers made a big ruckus about the young "fanatics," describing them like quasi-terrorists. The articles "exposed" the group's plans to make all kinds of trouble, insinuating that they wanted to go so far as to blow up the Knesset. Before long, the group was arrested and its members thrown in prison, including the young Mordechai, who was sentenced to nine months in jail.

Rabbi Yehudah Tzadkah, Rabbi Mordechai's uncle, later recalled that the prison's leadership even posted special guards to be on duty when the young "terrorists" arrived. These burly, truncheon-bearing policemen surrounded the prison gates, awaiting the arrival of the young "terrorists." But when the prisoners were brought in, the authorities saw a group of scrawny yeshivah boys with friendly-looking faces. These were the radical activists making headlines? These were the thugs bringing the country to its knees?

The prison warden made it his business to get to know the boys, who certainly didn't look like hardened criminals. He wanted to hear their stories and find out where they were coming from and what made them do what they did. Over the course of their imprisonment, the boys explained to the warden — and whoever else would listen — that their actions just came from a love of the Jewish people and out of a desire to preserve the holiness of the Land.

The boys truly inspired the warden. He learned about the responsibility of one Jew for another, about the beauty of caring for one another, and about the importance of performing acts of loving-kindness. Through them, the warden discovered the meaning of the mitzvot and, by the time the group was released, the warden was so inspired that he had decided to do teshuvah, to return and repent. The warden eventually became fully Torah-observant.
Years later, when discussing his imprisonment, Hacham Mordechai said, "If we went to prison just to help the warden do teshuvah, it was worth it!"
את המידע הדפסתי באמצעות אתר yeshiva.org.il