BS"D Yom Alef l'Seder Kabalas HaTorah, Parshas Yisro, 16 Shvat 5773, Jan. 27, 2013
What Was My Purpose Being In The SHU?
Hashem has many reasons why He put me in the SHU, and I'm sure I don't understand all of the reasons. But one of the things that I do understand and which I saw, I would like to write you about. The reason I write this one before the other subject is because I have a message for you regarding this topic.
When they put me in the SHU, I knew I had something to do there, but I asked Hashem to please help me to fulfill my shlichus over there. There happened to be another Yid in the SHU as well, whose name is Moshe Levy. When he was notified that I was in the SHU, he sent a message to me that I should try to get into the same room as him, and he even tried to make these arrangements by speaking with officers and lieutenants. When they offered me to move in with him, for many reasons I said I didn't want to go. A few reasons were because if I had to be with him, and he doesn't eat kosher, or if he does something improper on Shabbos, I don't want to sit and see these things with my eyes. And from the other side, I can't tell him not to eat non-kosher, as the kosher food they give there is very little and terrible. So in such a difficult time, it's so hard to say something to someone. And as I said, I have other reasons which I don't want to mention here.
It happened to be that I was with a goy and he was already in the SHU for 17 months. This man was about to go home in 3-4 months. They didn't want to let him back out on the compound before he left. And they also didn't want to transfer him to another prison as his time was short. Therefore they were keeping him in the SHU here. He was with me, and I offered him that he should try to ask what's the reason they don't let him out. He'd only be here for a short time on the compound. So by encouraging him to try, he didn't have anything to lose by trying to ask, as a person never knows what will happen. Therefore when the executive officials come each week, as you shall read later in another email, then people have a chance to ask any question of the executives. So the first week I was there, he asked why he should remain in the SHU? They should give him a chance to be out for the little time left after being so much time in the SHU. The answer was an outright "NO!". The following week he tried asking again. At that time, it was a not as big "No.". And they said they'd think about it. The third week, the answer was that it's a good chance. The fourth week, as the executives were making their "tour" of the SHU, they told him that he'd leave that very day! He didn't believe it, but in fact he left that day and went out from the SHU, and then I was alone in the cell.
The reason I mention this issue is 2 reasons:
1) A man has to know to never give up, and always try.
2) Maybe the reason they let him out was this would automatically lead to the next step that would occur, as you shall read further, be"H.
So after this, when I was alone in the cell, they came again to ask me if I want to be with the other Yid mentioned previously. I was thinking over what to do, maybe I have to go, but after thinking, I said no again.
Two days later, on Friday, they came to tell me, giving me an order that I had to move. So if they gave an order, there's anyways nothing to challenge. And if this is what Hashem wants, this is what I have to do, and accept it with love. When I get an order, I have no doubts as this is what Hashem wants.
As I came to the room, he welcomed me so warmly. And I saw his happiness. You cannot imagine how happy and excited he became. And this made me feel I was wrong in my previous decision not to go with him. Furthermore, from his own will, he decided to eat kosher and be observant. And I didn't even have to tell him. And after when I realized he was so happy, I had much regret and pain why I didn't do this before. I was thinking to myself, to have this merit to make a Yid happy in the SHU to such a great degree, there's no greater mitzvah. And I was thinking, maybe my whole reason to be in the SHU could have been for this. Further, I'm thinking, after being in the SHU so long, I still hadn't seen the DHO (a committee to hear the charges and have a ruling on the charges), and usually a person sees them after maybe 2-3 weeks at the most. So maybe it's all due to this. As the reason to be in SHU was to make a Yid happy.
So the time they brought me there was Erev Shabbos Kodesh, and we made a fine Shabbos, according to the circumstances. Although there's nothing that we have inside. But we say, yismichu b'Malchus'cha Shomrei Shabbos (rejoice in Your Kingship shall those who observe the Shabbos). I heard this from my father many times, he said in the name of the Holy Rizhiner, zy"a. The Holy Rizhiner was in jail - he said, what does this phrase of yismichu mean? We're happy Shabbos having all good things - good food, nice clothes, we don't work. There's lots of things happening Shabbos to be happy about. What's the yismichu b'Malchus'cha (rejoice in Your Kingship) mean - that I'm happy only with "b'Malchus'cha" (in Your Kingship)? So he said, in jail we have nothing else to be happy with, only with the Kingship of Hashem. So we tried to be happy the whole Shabbos and study. We're Yidden and we need to fulfill the Shabbos as Hashem instructed us.
By the way, all week we davened 3 times/day together. After davening, we danced. He was so excited with everything. So every day I was thinking that I was wrong with my former decision, and I had regret that I didn't come before.
So in concluding, being together with a Yid, I was happy every moment making a Yid happy there. There's no question it's a merit and mitzvah which no one else can do. This mitzvah to make happy a Yid in SHU, it's not easy, and not everyone can do - a person has to be in the SHU to fulfill this mitzvah.
So after Shabbos I was thinking, ok, I'm here and now I've fulfilled my mission. But no, it wasn't enough. It was Friday morning, a full week later, that I was called to the DHO. After seeing DHO, they dismissed all charges. Some of the charges they didn't even bring to the DHO (they were thrown out earlier).
After coming back from DHO, I didn't know if I'd be out right away, or maybe it'll take a day or 2 or more. So when I came back, I gave the news to Moshe Levy. And I told him that I'd be happy to stay for Shabbos with him. To help you understand, it's very difficult to leave the SHU right before Shabbos. A person has nothing prepared, all of his property is in disarray, etc. So I told him, I hoped I'd be Shabbos with him. But as I was talking with him, the AW stopped by, and we had a big discussion, and at the end of the discussion it was clear I'd be there another week (or at least a few days). So I told Moshe that we'd start to prepare for the Shabbos, clean the room, and have the full plan for Shabbos.
We cleaned the room, says l'kuvod Shabbos Kodesh. We had a tiny table which we covered. In the middle of the cleaning, they came to me and told me "pack your stuff", and they kicked me out. I couldn't stay for Shabbos. Obviously, I was very excited and happy, but from the other side, it wasn't easy for this other Yid.
So I thought to myself what I can do. I ask you all to please help me in this. You can write him a letter. By writing him a letter, you cannot imagine how big and important it is. I'm sure every one of you, if I could display a video to you, how every day we wait for mail, and how happy we are to see we get a letter... We read it and study it. Every person would write at minimum one letter. So I'm here to let you know you have the opportunity to help a Yid in this situation. And it's even better to be a short letter - 1 page or even just a little note. By sending him a letter, it would make me feel better, as I left him alone. By sending him a letter, you shine a light into the deep darkness.
I shall give you Moshe Levy's information. He's 46 years old. You have to write him only in English. And to be fair, only a one page letter. The following is his information to write:
Michael Levy #63749-053
FCI Ft. Dix - West
P.O. Box 2000
Ft. Dix, NJ 08640
Please, if you tell me you sent him a letter, you'll make me happy too. And you can encourage other people to write too. So if you send him a letter, please send me an email letting me know that you did. You can also write him regards from me. You can write him that I encouraged you. Whatever you feel to write is good. You don't have to put what I recommend. A half page, or whatever you do is good - in English.