Beyond the Bars: How a Boro Park Boy Transported Himself above Nature through Pure Faith

Beyond the Bars: How a Boro Park Boy Transported Himself above Nature through Pure Faith

It was the night of zos Chanukah, the tail end of the Yom Tov of miracles, and the year was 5777 (2017)—an evening that will never leave the memories of Klal Yisroel, especially in America: Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin—our symbol of faith  had been freed from the place that some called prison.

Amid the tumult outside the Rubashkin’s Monsey home stood his son Getzel, one of the greatest forces behind all the earthly efforts to have him released. Over the loud noise of the enormous, joyful crowd, Getzel could think about one thing: This is how it will be when Moshiach will come. “It will come in the blink of an eye... just like the salvation we saw today! You won’t even have time to change; so get ready!”

But in truth, if there was anyone in the world that was open to incredible miracles; it was the Rubashkin family, which had earned the awe of a nation, through their father, who had become an unstoppable fountain of faith.

Now, together with his father, Getzel has produced a 600-page work entitled The Inside Story, documenting this journey. The title probably alludes to story of being a Yid with emunah peshutah inside prison, but really, it is all about the inside... the neshamah that is inside of all of us, and the power of which Reb Sholom Mordechai revealed for all the world to see.

Although, it was his own heroic avodah of purifying himself with pure faith—the one thing they could not take from him— amid the direst of circumstances, in the face of the darkest forces which had aligned against him—the roots of his tenacity are in the family genes.

Sholom Mordechai was born in Boro Park in 1959, to his father, the legendary butcher, Reb Avrohom Aaron Rubashkin, who hailed from Nevel, Russia, a stronghold of Lubavitcher chassidim who have been living for generations under oppressive forces.

Through poverty and pogroms, the Rubashkins, and their fellow chassidim did not falter; they marched forward, fearlessly carrying out Hashem’s will. Arriving here, the family grew exceptionally close to the Kapischnitzer Rebbe, and the Rubashkin’s remain close to Kapishnitz to this day (Rubashkin attorney Gary Apfel is an ardent Kapishnitzer chossid, bringing this part of the story full circle).

After a number of years of revolutionizing the kosher meat industry, centered in the sleepy town of Postville, they came for Sholom Mordechai. It took us some time to awake to what was happening; a modern day libel... and then we began hearing the pure faith emanating from behind the bars; like chassidim of yore who would dance in their cells when the poritz incarcerated them, Sholom Mordechai’s time in the “place called prison” gave Klal Yisroel a front row seat to what the emunah peshutah of those Yidden we have only read about in story books looks like.    

In his powerful introduction, Reb Sholom Mordechai relates the teaching of the Ba’al Shem Tov that has kept him going throughout his ordeal: That everything a Yid hears and sees is for the purpose of teaching him something, entrusting him with a mission on this world.

“I lived with that teaching of the Ba’al Shem Tov throughout my ordeal, opening my heart to the message Hashem was teaching me in each instance.” Every stage of this journey presented new challenges, and with a simple, pure faith, Sholom Mordechai looked for the message, for the mission—and proceeded to carry it out faithfully and joyfully.

He wants us to see this book, likewise, as not simply a riveting story (which it is), but something to remind us that: “You are a neshamah; the importance of learning and seeing the world through a Torah lens, accessing emunah and bitachon, see the Hashgacha Pratis, and to always be happy, which will in turn cause Hashem to give us reasons to be happy.

Reading though the incredible journey is difficult to believe that a Yid in the 21st century is capable of such spiritual strength, but it is the true story of a Boro Park born-and-bred Yid who transported himself beyond the bars. 

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