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Never Shackled

Yisroel Besser

From Iowa to Otisville to Brooklyn, Mishpacha accompanied the Rubashkins from their days of darkness to their personal redemption

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

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Back in the summer of 2009, Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin was gathering the inner strength to face the impending collapse of the shtetl he’d built amid the cornfields of Iowa — a place that Yerushalmi shochtim and searching American teens could call home. Mishpacha’s Yisroel Besser heard about the Rubashkin family’s business, community, fears, and unflinching hope (Photos Yossi Fler, Menachem Kozlovsky, Flash90, Shalom Diamond, JDN , Mishpacha archives)

A t 3:21 p.m. on 2 Teves, December 20, 2017, the last e-mail was sent.

The writer, tapping furiously on the keyboard without regard to grammar and punctuation because computer use is limited in prison, still managed a cute icon to convey his excitement in the day:

                              ,   ,  , ,  i     ,  ,  ,  ,

Zois Chanukah   \ \ \ \ | / / / /    THIS is Chanukah :) 

Sholom Uvrocho :) HAPPY CHANUKAH :) 

BARUCH HASHEM We are Holding By the 8th day of Chanukah, Called “ZOIS CHANUKAH” THIS IS CHANUKAH :)

BARUCH HASHEM we were able to light the Chanukah Menoirah with Shemen Zayis in a Mehudar way and also to light it on time.

The Menoirah Needs to be lit, when the sun Sets, which is approx 4:28!

Since they Lock everyone in the Cells from 3:30-4:30 Plus! it wouldn’t be possible to light on time!

so i asked the Chaplain if he could make it so they count us in the Chapel, instead of the Cells!

This was a request to do it for ALL of Chanukah and initially it sounded like Higher than Sechel to ask for that,

BUT, we need to serve HASHEM with Higher than the Limitations of Sechel, so i Persisted and said this is what it says we need to do, so what if it will be for so many days! BARUCH HASHEM since it is the Proper Time to Light the Menoirah,

He Agreed and BARUCH HASHEM we were able to Fulfill the Mitzvoh PROPERLY! the Way a Yid needs to do it :)

So, we see again, Davkah thru Serving HASHEM with Higher Than Sechel are we able to serve HASHEM properly :)….




sholom mordechai Halevi Ben Rivkoh Sheyichye :)



It was typical of the e-mails he’d been sending for years: exuberance, originality, that mix of upper case and lower case and exclamation point unique to him.

Sholom Mordechai revels in his Chanukah miracle along with longtime champion Rabbi Pinchus Lipschutz

Just over an hour later, a warden threw open the cell door and barked out, “Rubashkin, come with me.” Unsure where he was being summoned to, Inmate 10755029 reached for his tallis and tefillin. He’d been sent to solitary before, and years in prison had taught him to be prepared.

The next day, I was seated in Crown Heights studying my friend, Sholom Mordechai. He looked ecstatic, and the black frock and hat were more respectable than green prison garb, but, to be honest, it was the exact same smile I’d seen over years of visits to Otisville. He was humming, “Al nisecha, v’al nifle’osecha, v’al yeshuasecha.”

The room grew quiet as someone brought in Sholom Mordechai’s Chovos Halevavos and placed the thin sefer gently on the table laden with fruit platters and cake and empty paper cups. One of the Rubashkin boys looked at the sefer and asked me if I remember the article.

A few years ago, Reb Sholom Mordechai wrote a piece for this magazine depicting his last day in prison, how he would walk out for the last time:

I will rush into Cell 307 and gather together my few precious belongings, my tallis and tefillin, my precious seforim. I will, b’ezras Hashem, hold tightly to my sefer Chovos Halevavos, which came with me through all the different levels of Gehinnom and carry it close as I walk out, free.

Turns out he kept his word. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 691)

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