Monday, September 20, 2010

Pollard release vs settlement freeze

The story in todays JP, intimates that the US has offered to release Johnathan Pollard if Israel extends the settlement freeze for 3 months.
This is both a political and halachic question.
There is no doubt that having served way beyond any similarly convicted spy in the US, J Pollard falls into the category of "PIDYON SHVUYIM".
This is a Jewish cap[tive held by gentiles.The Torah tells us that to free such a person is one of the greatest mitzvoth.The Rambam,(Maimonides) gives it a higher precedent than feeding or clothing the poor.
However in a situation such as this there is the cost-benefit ratio.
Freeing such a prisoner,WOULD CAUSE POTENTIALLY GREAT HARM TO THE BUILDING OF ERETZ YISRAEL.However , more than likely it would only be temporary.
The famous story of Rabbi Meir of Rottenberg who refused to allow the community to ransom him,because the price was too high, and becaue " tikkun olam" meaning it would encourage the gentiles to kidnap others for ransom.
Pollard deserves to be released, and there are no other prisoners in the US who can be so bartered.
I would call together settlement leaders and the Chief Rabbinate to try to have a unified response
In addition I would try to bargain for a 45 day or 60 day extension
Finally I would demand from Obama a written promise that no further extension requests will be forthcoming.
Then again, we don't know if the reports are even true.