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Yosef was in prison and he encountered a fellow prisoner who looked stressed out. The fellow was in prison because he had been Chutzpadik to his commander, but today he really wanted his freedom. He had pressing financial issues on the outside. Yosef listened to the troubled prisoner’s story of woe and suggested that they could ask the Rebbe for advice and if the fellow would really believe in the Rebbe’s Brocha, and follow the Rebbe’s instructions, he would go free.

This story happened in Adar in 5755. The Yosef in the story is Yosef Pilant, the first soldier to be imprisoned for refusing orders in the months prior to the Disengagement. All the prisoners had to take on maintenance duties in the prison. Yosef chose to clean the Shul. He would spend all his waking hours Davening and learning and do a little cleaning in between. The soldier who urgently needed to be released had come into the Shul, as many of the soldiers did, and spoke with Yosef, as many prisoners did.

Yosef and his fellow prisoner put a letter into the Igross Kodesh. The letter from the Rebbe spoke about a relationship of a man with a non-Jewish woman. The soldier admitted to Yosef that he had a girlfriend in France who was not Jewish. Discussing it with Yosef, he decided there and then to end the relationship. Then together they wrote a letter to the offended commander apologizing and asking to be let out of jail.

The next day the commander forgave the Chutzpadik soldier and he was released.

Yosef’s own prison experience involved many court hearings. I saw a picture of Yosef being led into court closely guarded. Yosef was carrying a Sefer. He told me it was the Tanya and that he prepared for the hearing by learning the Tanya three times. I clarified that he meant the Tanya of the day he learned three times. Nope, I was wrong. He learnt the Tanya, the entire Tanya, three times before going to court.

Although Yosef sat out his entire 28 day sentence in jail, he was eventually awarded his full legal costs and the court specified that the army could not pay it, the individual commanders who put him in jail were commanded to pay and the court enforced it.

Why did I call this article an ‘update’ if the news I am giving you is almost two years old? Because I want you to know the quality of the youth who are on location defending Shlaimos HaAretz according to the teachings of the Rebbe.

Yosef grew up in Yitzhar, a town not far from Shechem. His family moved to Yitzhar in the early 90’s when a hand-full of Lubavitch families were encouraged by the Rebbe to move there and to stay even when things got tough - and things did get tough.

Since his experience in prison and the culmination of his army service, Yosef has married and moved to an outpost known as Mitzpeh Yitzhar which is just beyond Yitzhar. There, Yosef and his wife Racheli and another Chabad couple, Itzik and Rivka Sandroi are answering the Rebbe’s call to settle all the land - not just the main centers, but also the ‘Nikudot’ the outposts. This is an act of Mesirus Nefesh. Even though sufficient documentation has been shown to the courts to prove the legality of this outpost, they are not allowed to build real homes or even to move a caravan onto the site. So instead the families live in shipping containers. You would be surprised at how nicely they make the shipping containers into homes. But the comfort is only cosmetic as the containers do not have insulation to protect from the summer heat and winter cold, among with other short comings.

In Mitzpeh Yitzhar the list of living discomforts and dangers is a long list. So why go on Mesirus Nefesh to live on a hilltop outside of town? Isn’t it enough to live in Yitzhar?

The Rebbe was concerned about security of the Jews living everywhere and he spoke volumes about the security of Jews in Eretz Yisroel. The elected authorities in Eretz Yisroel think that by building a security wall and hiding behind it they will be safe. It reminds me of the Jews in European cities who did not resist going behind ghetto walls because at last they would be separated from the goyim and at least they would be safe.

In an age when compromise is heralded as being a righteous trait, I am proud to say that Our Rebbe has remained the most uncompromising when it comes to Jewish settlement in the Holy Land, all of the Holy Land. And he says it will bring maximum safety.

Settling the entire land gives us the psychological advantage of showing the enemy that we recognize the land is our land and we have every right to live here. It has the military advantage of convenient access to security intelligence information.

The outposts in particular are very advantageous. The enemy knows that only the bravest Jews live in outposts and they are more hesitant to attack a town that is guarded by outposts than one guarded by a chicken-wire fence.

As time passes and the Disengagement for Aza and the Northern Shomron fades in our memories, the results of that evil process continue to ruin the lives of individuals, communities and the entire Jewish presence in Eretz Yisroel.

The individuals and communities who were affected are not limited to the ones who lost their homes, their stability and their orientation in life. Also the soldiers who carried out the Disengagement were affected. Although there was a gag order on the press, it is well known that many soldiers went as far as to commit suicide after the Disengagement and hundreds of others have still not recovered psychologically, and they may never recover.

And how is the Disengagement affecting the rest of the five million Jews in Eretz Yisroel? It has brought about deterioration in security. Military experts agree that there needs to be re-settlement of the areas forfeited. The army cannot be there all the time, settlers can. But the politicians will not hear of admitting their failure and guilt. This is a clear indication that we have to realize that it is easier to hold on to what we have than to go back. And the outposts are the cutting edge of holding on. If the outposts would fall, G-d forbid, the settlements would soon follow and security would be next to impossible. Sure, before 1967, we managed, but back then the enemy was not as well equipped with confidence and with sophisticated artillery.

So this is the update. The bad news is that the authorities in Eretz Yisroel are trying to destroy the outposts and the security they provide. The good news is that fine young people like the Pilant’s and the Sandroi’s have Mesirus Nefesh to stand up against the authorities. And the best news is that Chabad Chassidim have no confusion. We are not influenced by talk of land for peace, security walls and cycle of violence, because the words of the Rebbe ring as true today as they did forty years ago.

Really, the article ends here. But I am hoping the ones who have read to end are wondering what they can do. So I will make some suggestions.

1. When you or anyone you know visits Eretz Yisroel, please… visit Mitzpeh Yitzhar. It may be Mesirus Nefesh to live there, but it is a wonderful spot to visit: the air, the view, the feeling… and the marvelous young families. (They can also use financial help.)

2. When there is a public event in your neighborhood, arrange to have children say the twelve Psukim for the safety and welfare of Jews in Eretz Yisroel. It can be a lengthy process to call up each child separately, so if time is an issue, you can call up a small group of children and have them all say each Psuk together.

3. Familiarize yourself with what the Rebbe said about Shlaimos HaAretz. How will the Rebbe’s wisdom reach the world if his Chassidim are not familiar with this area of his teachings? There is very little need to be familiar with the latest news in Eretz Yisroel. Better to learn what the Rebbe says than what the politicians are saying. If you would like to read a booklet which was prepared in response to sticky questions that a Shliach was faced with, please email me at The booklet was reviewed by a number of respected Chabad rabbis.

4. The refugees from Gush Katif are feeling like no one remembers them. Miriam Feldman and Baila Kamman of Crown Heights are actively organizing and funding projects which bring the warmth and wisdom of Chassidus to the refugees. Chassidus is the best way to bring a person out of a state of dejection. If you are interested in this project, my email address is above.

5. I hesitate to make this next suggestion. I think it would be very effective, but I have yet to have someone call me and tell me they did it. I would love to be surprised… OK, here it is. Write a letter to the editor. Seriously. I can send my articles to publications which support land concessions and they will never, ever get printed. But a short well worded spark of wisdom from the Rebbe, they will print in letters to the editor. I once wrote a letter describing the Rebbe Maharash’s philosophy of ’From the Onset Rise Above’ in response to a comment which they had printed that I did not like. The letter got printed! The readers of this secular Jewish newspaper got to learn a concept in Chassidus. Another time, I criticized an article about Hevron and gave my opinion of the high quality of the people in Hevron. Again, this was a slant that would never be printed as an article. I even recommend groups get together to practice choosing articles to answer with a letter. Discuss the topic and practice writing. And then celebrate together when an article gets published. Once you get the hang of it, you can do it independently.  

6. Children’s rallies. Prior to the Yom Kippur War the Rebbe gathered children for Torah, Tefillah and Tzedaka. There is no need for me to elaborate on this. You know what has to be done.

7. Take on Mitzvahs. Prior to the Six Day War, when the world was trembling, the Rebbe told thousands of children at a Lag B’Omer Parade about the situation in Eretz Yisroel. He told the children they could help by taking on ‘Noch a Mitzvah Un Noch a Mitzvah,’ another Mitzvah and yet another Mitzvah. In response to this call, last summer at the time of the war, more than fifty summer camps in North America were participating in Add A Mitzvah campaign. Campers of all ages were filling in pre-formatted Mitzvah Notes for the safety of Yidden in Eretz Yisroel. The project was done in the Zchus of the refugees from Gush Katif and the Mitzvah notes were read by children who had been expelled from their homes. A variation of this project could be done on a smaller scale, or you could organize it on a large square.

Please let me know if you take on any of my suggestions. I would be happy to write about it and publicize it where ever I can. Thanks! Aliza