R’ Yisroel Katzover recalls a conversation between the Erlau Rebbe zt”l and Arik Sharon regarding the destruction of the Gush Katif Communities
“When I say that the Erlauer Rebbe loved Eretz Yisroel deeply. I remember something that happened on the Eve of Tisha B’Av [ninth day of the Jewish month of Av, the day of the destruction of both the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem] the year the decision was made to expel the Jews of Gush Katif from their homes. The streets of Katamon [an area of Jerusalem] were empty. A few minutes after midnight as I was preparing to go to sleep, I suddenly heard a soft knocking on the door. Who could it be at this hour? I wondered. I hurried to unlock the door , and was stunned to discover the Erlau Rebbe standing there with tears in his eyes. He apologized for the late hour and asked if he could come inside”.
“I knew from the early years that the eve of Tisa B’Av and the following day were the hardest days for the Rebbe. He fasted, he did not speak to anyone and mourned for the destruction of the Temple deeply. But that year the Rebbe had deviated from his custom and had come to talk to me.”
“The Rebbe began to speak. “I came because I cannot go to sleep when 10,000 Jews are about to be expelled from their homes. They are crying and I am crying with them. We have to do something. I am asking you to connect me right now with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon; I am sure you have his direct number. He knew how to come to me when he needed me, and now he should speak to me when I need him. Since I can remember I do not speak on Tisha B’Av. Today, in the situation that so many Jewish people are in, all that has broken down.”
“I didn’t know what to do. It was after midnight, not a normal hour to call a prime minister. But when the Erlau Rebbe broke his silence for this cause, I had to make every effort. I dialed Sharon’s number; after a few rings, the PM picked up and thundered: “Who is this at this hour?”
“The Erlau Rebbe, your friend and acquaintance is crying and wishes to speak to you”.
Sharon: “So late? Is it urgent? Out of respect for the Rebbe whom I admire as one of the great lovers of Israel, I will speak to him”.
The Rebbe took the phone and burst into heart rending sobs. He cried and cried, and Sharon remained silent as if shell shocked. This continued for a few minutes until the Rebbe said: “I haven’t called to talk to you about the destruction of the first Temple [in Jerusalem] of early times; I have come to talk to you about today’s destruction, about the expulsion of 10,000 Jewish people and the abandonment of part of the Land of Israel.
This will never be forgotten. Even now, at this last minute, stop the process! Nothing good will come out of it for you or for the Nation of Israel. The situation of the State of Israel will only deteriorate. Masses of Jews will lose their lives as they know it, and their homes will cry out to the heavens. It is not worth it, nor worthy of you to do this.” Again the Rebbe burst into tears.
|A child of eviction from Gush Katif|
Sharon: “Honored Rav, I agreed to hear you out because we are friends and respect each other for many years. We have assessed the issue from many angles, and in my opinion and that of the security establishment, this is the process that we have no choice but to carry out in order to help the Jewish Nation. With that, after the Rebbe’s call, I will think about it again. Good night dear friend”.
“It is not clear if Sharon intended to reconsider, but his advisors said that in the subsequent days and throughout the process of the disengagement only one conversation tore at his heart: the Tisha B’Av night call from the Rebbe from Jerusalem. but he did nothing to stop the process. From then on the Erlau Rebbe refused all contact with Sharon. The ties between the two were cut off entirely. But on the day the Erlau Rebbe was told that Sharon had suffered a severe stroke, he asked for his mother’s name. That’s the way the Rebbe was. he loved every Jew, When Sharon’s life was in danger, he wanted to pray for him”.