Esther Pollard, Kesher Wife of the Decade: Sara Yoheved Rigler’s Remarkable Shiva Call

Esther Pollard, Kesher Wife of the Decade: Sara Yoheved Rigler’s Remarkable Shiva Call

During her shiva call last week, Sara Yoheved Rigler and Jonathan Pollard discussed her nomination of Esther Pollard A”H, for Kesher Wife of the decade, an award inspired by her Kesher (Connection) Wife course, which encourages deep unity between wives and their husbands. When Jonathan Pollard mentioned that he tends to talk in the plural, saying “We” rather than “I” because of his intense connectedness with Esther A”H, it actually reminded me of my father. My parents also had a deeply connected marriage, and even following her death last year after 54 years of marriage, my father still often says, “We like going to x,” or “We prefer y.” After so many years of a deeply connected marriage, that kind of connection can continue, it appears, even after one spouse is no longer alive. Something to aspire to.
Here is the powerful letter Sara Yoheved mentions in the video. This letter gave me a whole new perspective on this brilliant, spiritual, powerhouse of a woman. May her devastated husband be comforted and may her memory be a blessing.
Jonathan Pollard received the following letter from his wife, Esther, in time for his birthday on August 7, 2010, five years before his release.
Jerusalem, August 1, 2010
My Beloved Jonathan,
I don’t really know how to write this letter. I want so badly to help you. I need to make you understand things that I barely understand.
What I do know is that we have spent a very, very long time trying to attack a problem logically, when that problem is totally resistant to logic.
You have every right to be angry. You have every right to be depressed. You have every right to hate. And I certainly do not have any right to tell you otherwise or to try to mitigate your anger or your hate. Maybe they are necessary. Maybe they are a part of the divine plan.
I am angry too, though I try not to dwell on my anger. I am frustrated and tired and worn out, and like you, have not been feeling well for so long that I really do not remember when I last felt well. Everything is a question of degree.
If I get this letter done tonight, it looks like it will arrive for your secular birthday, if you are not yet home by then. So as my gift to you, why don’t I just try to speak what is in my heart, without varnish or sugar coating.
If I did not believe in G-d; if I did not believe that we are souls having a human experience (as opposed to our being humans having a spiritual experience); if I did not believe in gilgul ha’nishamot (the reincarnation of souls); if I did not believe in Jewish History or the Jewish Prophesies; if I did not believe in the ultimate redemption of the Jewish People and the coming of Moshiach; if I did not believe in any of these, then I also would not believe in the concept of soul mates. Without belief in the concept of soul mates, and the clear understanding that I was born to be your helpmate, your ezer knegdo, your opposite half in this lifetime, then it could be said that it was my choice to marry you and my choice to take on a lifetime of travail and suffering instead of choosing an easier path by choosing another mate.
Often I think about how my life looks through the eyes of someone who does not believe in G-d, in Jewish destiny, or in soul mates. I know people like that. Ones I have spoken with, tell me that they think I am pretty foolish to have made such poor choices and to have ended up in this not-married, not-single state of perpetual longing and endless suffering, coupled with endless hard work rolling the boulder uphill only to have it roll down again, and then to start all over again. I have been told, by well-meaning meddlers, on numerous occasions, that I have or had so many talents and merits, why did I have to get involved with someone in prison? Better yet, with someone with a life sentence?
People who have no concept of eternity or of G-d’s absolute rule of the world, cannot fathom that I did not have a choice. That the only reason I was born into this life was to accompany you on your tragic/majestic journey from darkness (lots and lots of darkness) to light (o when o when will it appear! — But appear it must!)
People who have no concept of eternal life have no way to grasp that you volunteered for this mission long ago in the world of souls, and I volunteered to go with you. The sorrow, the frustration, the suffering, the anguish, the depression, the despair and the anger are actually fleeting in terms of eternity. But in terms of a human lifetime they have been overwhelming, relentless and unending. No one in their right human mind would knowingly volunteer to take on any lifetime that is this difficult. But as souls, we did. That is, you did. And I could not let you go it alone, so I did as well. But only to follow you.
As you so aptly put it, not so long ago, we are both partly in prison and we are both partly free. That is how bound up in each other we are.
Having said that, there are some differences in our perspective. Apparently those differences are what allow each of us to survive our respective Gehinoms.
I don’t understand, and never did understand your ability and your will to keep fighting and fighting and fighting. I am not built that way. I give up. I don’t give up in despair or in defeat. I just pull back and hand it back to G-d. That makes you angry. You don’t like when I say that. Ok, so for the last 10 years that I have been feeling that way, you and others kept pulling me back into the fight, into yet another initiative and another initiative and another attempt to move things forward and another interview and another TV show and another essay and another [court case] and another lawsuit and another petition and another this, that and the other.
Doing all these useless things has brought collateral results, but no progress on the main issue at hand. Each initiative has built us into better, stronger, more sensitive, believing Jews, with a much closer connection to the Almighty. Each initiative has created more public awareness. Each initiative has brought more people to pray, to participate, to engage and to earn their share in eternity by attaching to this mitzvah. Each initiative has had its effect in Heaven and someday, after 120 years, we will, B”H understand how all these things contributed in a major way to bringing the final redemption to the Jewish People and to the Land.
For now, we do not have that glimpse beyond the veil. For the moment, all we have is the sure knowledge that we are not in control. That this case is a cosmic quagmire that is impervious to human efforts. It is so resistant to all of the human remedies that have been attempted over the last 2 ½ decades that that in itself is miraculous—by that I mean, clearly supernatural.
Any purely objective, non-cosmic look at the situation is mind-boggling. How is it that we have gone through endless campaigns, letters, petitions, lawsuits, demos, lobbying, etc etc for 25 years, and in those 25 years we have not moved forward one single centimeter? (Or one inch, if you prefer.) On the contrary, we have watched those who sought your demise from the outset, become more entrenched in their murderous positions. We have watched those who were indifferent, become more indifferent. We have watched those who were wantonly irresponsible and cruel, redouble their brazen irresponsibility and their calculated cruelty. In summary, even you, my love, must admit that what we have seen over the last 25 years is truly Biblical in proportion, and NOT natural!!
And that is the fact that even you, even in the Hellish pit of Snakes and Scorpions where you make your bed, even you must admit, this case is not following the natural course of events. It is a lightening rod for those whose raison d’être is the uprooting of the rule of Heaven. This case is the sine qua non of those who arrogate to rule in place of G-d. Or more aptly put, this case is the exclusive property (on both sides of the pond) of those who are convinced that they rule the world.
“So what?” you ask.
So, we have to draw appropriate conclusions.
I admit that I do not really, fully understand your insistence that through your scientific initiatives you can buy your freedom. You know that that is not true.
Yes, it would make it better for you if you could be busy and immersed in your projects and if you could have the consultants you need. But it won’t change the situation, and it won’t bring you home.
Home is in G-d’s hands. He has shown us that over and over and over and over again for the last 25 years, in some of the most unlikely ways. He has forced us to see that we are in control of nothing. That this case is bigger than us, and bigger than the fools who think that they are sitting on it. Bigger than the liars and the slanderers, bigger than the so-called leaders and rulers. This case is its own Tower of Babel and we all know who ultimately won that round.
When I am wearing my human-being glasses, I look in the mirror and I hate what I see. I hate seeing that so many years have left their mark. So many years, and we are still “nowhere”. Still not together. No home. No children. No grandchildren. No life. After all these years, I look and I feel old and worn out and sad and defeated, and I shout at no one in particular, “Just leave me alone! I can’t stand it any more, just leave me alone!” And then I think frantically, what to do, what to do, and there really isn’t anything to do, or nothing we have not already done many times before, and there isn’t anyone to ask, and our 5 minute phone calls don’t lend themselves to real discussion, and the frustration and anguish just grow and grow and grow, and I think I want to quit, but there isn’t even anyway of quitting! So I agonize over the only choice that it seems like I have, the choice to stay here and wait for you, or the choice to return to the States. And they are both difficult and unhappy choices at the moment.
When I am wearing my cosmic glasses (and it is so hard to keep those darned cosmic glasses on!) I am able to compartmentalize the agony, the anguish, the aging, the frustration, the despair and a whole host of very human, very reasonable, very normal emotions…
You told me tonight that you have no hope. You say that because you are unable to get anyone to help you, you are unable to get anything done and you have lost all hope of getting out. You say all you have is your anger and your hatred. You say that you have set a date in your mind by which you want me to come back to the USA. Perhaps a move to a new prison. A more humane prison environment, you say, may be available further north. There, at least, as you put it, we can be together.
I hope that when you see this written as it is in the paragraph above, you will see for yourself how erroneous this thinking is. It is not your inability to command or control others that deprives you of hope of relief. You know that isn’t so. And it is not your energy projects that will turn the key in the lock. Because if it were anything logical like that, then any other number of logical things that have already been tried would not have met with such supernatural failure.
Our anguish at being separated is indescribable. Our yearning to be together, to have a life, to live together, to build together, has been compared, and accurately so, to the yearning of the Shechinah to be reunited with the Jewish People. The agony of the passage of time is unbearable. I do not, for even one second, want to minimize the daily grind, the crushing weight of each day that passes without anything ostensibly changing, or the sheer disappointment, the misery of the years that have turned into decades of unfulfilled hopes and dreams.
Nor am I willing to discount, for ev en a second, the physical suffering that the circumstances have visited on both of us. An entire book could be written and still not explain how you have managed to survive the physical threats to your person, for 25 long years, day in day out, suffering and in pain with no relief for years on end. Lurching from one medical emergency to the next, with no respite.
As for me, as I indicated above, it has been so long since I have felt well, that I no longer remember what feeling well feels like. I am just glad when there is no pain, or when I can actually wear clothes, because so much of the time, I can’t stand the feel of anything, and certainly nothing that binds or even touches me, like elastic. In summary, I am in no way minimizing your pain and suffering or mine, on a daily basis, for the last 2 decades and more.
What I am trying to do, is to manage the pain and to make sense of it by wearing my cosmic glasses. (Those darn cosmic glasses that keep slipping down off of my nose!)
It is precisely because things are so bad and have been for so long that this has to end. Cosmic dramas always end when least expected. And they end, as the Rav zt”l predicted, suddenly and swiftly, and in a way that no one anticipates. It is precisely when all the Earthly doors have closed, that the Heavenly doors open. It is precisely when we throw our hands up and say, “I have done all that I can; Hashem, now it is all up to you,” that the answer comes.
This is not wishful thinking.
You are not a private person. This case is not just about you. Your suffering is not just about you. Your anguish and your misery is not just about you. Nor is it about me.
You are the personification of a living, breathing, on-going vital chapter in Jewish History. You are a cosmic key to the redemption of the Jewish people. You are, like it or lump it, the one! Your survival causes us all to survive. Your wholeness intellectually and spiritually saves us daily as a People. Your physical and emotional suffering…is atoning for the People.
Because it is all cosmic, it can and will end any second that Hashem chooses. It can and will end, as a Kiddush HaShem, not because of any earthly logical reason. In fact it will end in spite of all earthly logic and reason! Your release is synonymous with the release of the Shechinah from galut. Your release is tied up with the Moshiach Ben David’s return to the Land. Your release is bound to the redemption of the land and people of Israel. You do not need me to enunciate all the Mekubalim who have agreed with the Rav’s paskining on this matter. You can see it and feel it for yourself. So many people see it and feel it, and they write to you, and you know in your heart that what they write is true.
As wretched as you feel for the moment, you know who you are, and you know that you have a bright, long, good, important and critical Jewish future ahead of you. You KNOW that your release is critical to the continuation of Jewish History according to the Prophesies, according to the Torah of Moshe and the wisdom of our sages. The Gematriot uphold this. The terrible, terrible times, which we are living through, were also predicted with the same impeccable divine accuracy. It is all just a question of time. And because it is cosmic time we are talking about, every minute brings new hope. Yeshuat HaShem K’heref Aiyn! (Salvation from HaShem occurs in the wink of an eye!)
And so, my beloved sweetheart, love of my life, dear soul mate, Yehonatan ben Malka Halevy, for all these reasons and more, I continue to await your arrival, every single minute of every single day, here in the Land.. I don’t know where the Medina is heading. I know it isn’t going our way. But I am here, in the Land, which is eternally ours, and eternally strong, waiting for you.
In spite of the pain, the waiting, the anguish, I know in my heart that you, along with the Shechinah and Moshiach Ben David, will soon return home, to our joy and to the relief of those who love HaShem’s Torah and His Land. What we have lost will be returned; what was broken will be fixed, what was impaired will be restored, what was diminished will be increased, and we will have the love and the life we have so desired, together, here in the Land, G-d willing, in the wink of an eye, and soon.
So forgive me, my love, for not sharing your momentary vision of a hopeless future back in galut, sitting in a prison visit room, staring into each other’s eyes and seeing nothing there but the pain and the longing, and feeling nothing but despair and anguish. I know that you do not believe in this vision either. You are tired, not well, worn out, disappointed, so for the moment, you let sitra achra have a little free reign, and this is the horrible vision it proposes. We both know that this vision is shekker. And we both reject it.
Holy, beloved, sweet, righteous Gibor Yisrael [Hero of Israel], let me end with this:
In one of our recent conversations, I told you, my beloved husband, “Jonathan, do you realize that Kavod HaRav never called me ‘the Esther HaMalka [Queen Esther] of our generation’?”
“That’s true, you, agreed.
“And did you ever stop to think why he never called me the Esther HaMalka of our generation?”
“Tell me why you think so,” you replied
“Because, as you always point out, Jonathan, the Rav only spoke truth! The Rav never flattered anyone, never pandered to anyone, never softened the truth to please anyone. He would never have said that I am the Esther HaMalka of our generation, because I am not!”
“And so?” you replied.
“My point is that if the Rav repeatedly said that you are the Yosef HaTzadik of our generation it was not intended as a compliment, nor a balm for your tired soul. It was meant as a statement of truth, as a fact. It was meant for you to understand the degree to which you are participating in Jewish history. It was meant for others to understand how critical your redemption is to the redemption of the Jewish people as a whole. Those who ignore this, ignore at their own peril.”
Jonathan, my love, you did not respond. You have too much humility for that. But I know you, my dear husband; I know you well enough to know that you understood that this is so, that Kavod HaRav’s words were a statement of fact and that the long, drawn out, incredibly inhumane trial that you are living through and the endless afflictions you are suffering, count a whole lot more than any of us really understands.
For the moment, all we need to know, all we need to understand, is that this is a divine plan, the most sublime, most difficult divine plan that is destined to culminate in the redemption of a lot more than just Jonathan and Esther Pollard. Because it is divine, because it is Jewish history, and because Jewish history is teleological, it must end, and end well. We simply have no choice, but to hang on. To hang on with one hand stretched out to the Almighty, and the other hand clutching tenaciously to our cosmic glasses.
We are going to make it. This will end as suddenly and as surprisingly as it began. Most important of all, it will end as an enormous Kiddush Hashem. Amain!
I am waiting here for you. You are the love of my life. My soul mate. My reason for living, breathing, laughing, crying, my everything. G-d watch over you and bless you and speed you home to my loving arms. Together we will serve Hashem, here in the Land. And we can start, B”H by celebrating your birthday and making a seudat Hodayah to Hashem. Amain!
Happy Birthday, sweetheart. G-d speed you home, alive, well, and in mighty spirits and soon! Amain!
Much much love,
Now and always,
Your own
Esther Yocheved
J4JP (Justice for Jonathan Pollard) note:
References to “the Rav” or “Kavod HaRav” refer to His Honor, Kavod HaRav Mordechai Eliyahu, ztvk”l, the Pollards’ beloved rabbi, moreh derech [guide] and adoptive father, who passed away in 2010.May his memory be a blessing for all of Israel.

One comment

  1. Thank you for sharing this gem.

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