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Gilad Is Free

Gilad Is Free

Joy marred by fear

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It started with question marks—“Gilad Shalit Is Coming Home?”—and quickly turned into exclamation points: “Gilad Shalit Is Coming Home!” After almost 2,000 days in captivity, Gilad Shalit walked into the open arms of his parents, family, and indeed of the whole Jewish people.

“Gilad, we set up a special Facebook group for you,” a friend will tell him. He won’t understand. “What’s Facebook?” Five years a hostage! Five years of being disconnected from the outside world. Five years of nonstop thoughts: Will I ever again see my parents, my family? Will I ever get out of here? Will I ever have the chance to start a family of my own?

Thank G‑d, Gilad is getting answers to his questions.

What a celebration. How timely during the holiday of Sukkot, the “Time of Our Rejoicing.”


I’m very happy, but also confused. In fact, I’m a bit angry.

Gilad Shalit is finally home, but we’ve given in. Hamas is having giant victory celebrations. One thousand terrorists, including those responsible for the most fearsome and indiscriminate mass killings, are going free. Cold-blooded murderers, and those who helped them, those with blood on their hands and those who smiled when told the number of the children swept up in their blood-thirst: They’re all going free. They’re even pledging to target Jews once more.

Two pictures flash beside each other in my mind. In one, Gilad is at the air base, the Prime Minister is standing and waiting, and he comes down with slow and somewhat halting steps… seeing once again Hebrew letters before his eyes. Here’s his abba Noam, the father who never stopped thinking about him for even a moment. Here’s ima, Aviva, here’s his brother… is this real, or just a daydream? In the hours ahead, maybe he’ll say a shy “thank you” to the whole nation, the thousands of Jews the world over who never stopped praying for him, who recited hundreds of thousands of Psalms and committed millions of good deeds in his name.

But in the second picture, I see the terrorists riding on buses, waving their fingers in “V for Victory” signs. I see the thousands of families waiting for them with screams of “Allahu Akbar” and “Death to Israel.” I see giant celebrations in Gaza, ranting sermons in the mosques about Israel’s surrender. I see the blurry blood-stained images of more terror victims and the next Gilad that will, G‑d forbid, result from the freeing of these murderers.

The murderers of the Fogel family are right now sitting in a jail cell watching TV. Believe me, they see the same images. They’re watching what’s happening, and telling each other, “Don’t worry, our own turn will come.”


The truth is, I don’t know who to be angry at. Should I be angry at the present Israeli government, which abandoned all of its principles and folded in the face of Hamas’s outrageous demands? Or at the government of 1985, which approved the Jibril agreement, in which over a thousand terrorists were freed in return for three IDF soldiers? Or maybe I should be mad at the 1979 Israeli government, which handed over 79 terrorists in exchange for one soldier? Unfortunately, there is already a tradition of capitulation, a tradition of surrender and a pattern known to all it seems but the leaders themselves. No wonder that the terrorists have learned our weaknesses and exploit them to the fullest.

“We do not redeem captives for too high a price, for the good of society,” the Talmud says. Way back then, our Sages well recognized the danger of concessions that simply whet the kidnappers’ appetites further. The more dangerous the kidnappers, the greater the danger.

What could have been done differently to free Gilad Shalit? I don’t know. I’m not an intelligence agent, nor a prophet. But like an elusive “peace,” this shouldn’t have come at so exorbitant a price.


Allow me to dedicate some last words to Gilad Shalit.

Gilad, who knows, maybe someday you’ll do a Google search and read articles written about you and in tribute to you. If you ever come across this article, dear Gilad, then I want to embrace you in the name of all of our readers. Gilad, we love you. We’re so happy that you came home! May G‑d bless you to know only good in your life from now on.


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sara ashdod, israel October 23, 2011

agreed!!! I agree with the author 100%. No one is saying we didn't want him home as much as anyone else- but the "shalit deal' did not help Israel's security issues. One thousand terrorists are going home as heroes..they have already said they have no remorse for what they did and plan to continue G-d forbid, and they are the role models for our young Palestinian neighbors. We wanted to see Gilad come home with some brave military action like Entebbe, or some obvious political moves like stopping all aid to Gaza until he is returned to Israe.

Instead our enemy sees us weak and as a result there has already been a stabbing in Ramot, jerusalem. (Has anyone bothered to report that outside Israel?)
That being said, of course I rejoiced in his coming home, and may Hashem who gave us the land of Israel protect us in its borders. amen. Reply

Anonymous melbourne, vIC October 23, 2011

please don't question now what is done is done. i don't think it's right to quesiton whether Gilad should have been freed or not. How could we question this? How could we possibly be comfortable with him staying in that rotten cell - literally rotting away. Please have respect for the family....maybe we needed to think about whether to exchange before the deed, and i'm sure the decision makers thought long and hard. Let Hashem pay the retribution to those who need it.
Main thing is our precious brother and son is back home! Od Gilad Chai!! Reply

varda thornhill, ontario via jrcc.org October 18, 2011

love to Gilad Shalit and his family May he will be healed on all levels.

May there be peace Reply

Isaac Bensussen San Diego , Ca October 18, 2011

Gilad is free With the clear and present danger that the Arab Spring presents with the millions and millions of Muslims surrounding Israel, many of them Jew' haters, I believe that the liberation of 1000 prisoners in exchange for the life of Gilad Shalit is a small price to pay. We just have to always be alert and prepared. Reply

Aron Bench toronto, ON October 18, 2011

He who saves one life...... Hi
Thank you for this thoughtful article in which you quote the talmud as "We do not redeem captives for too high a price, for the good of society,” the Talmud says. Way back then, our Sages well recognized the danger of concessions that simply whet the kidnappers’ appetites further. The more dangerous the kidnappers, the greater the danger". Might I remind our readers of another quote from the talmud: "Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world."Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 4:8 (37a). Let us remember that by saving Gilad we saved our world... Arie Reply

Angel Cintron San Juan, PR October 18, 2011

G-d Bless You Galid
Today I have peace and joy in my heart, You are free Galid!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Reply

Anonymous Tel Aviv, Israel October 18, 2011

Our deal Gilad meant more than just the life of one soldier . Our soldiers in Israel are young men fighting for Israel and working under commands from a less innocent part of our society. There is a strong mental generation gap .
To unite such gaps of secular and religious Old and Young , would take a long Time . The Coming back of Gilad Shalit united Israel like never before . We get our man back and our humbility back .

Painful concessions can result in a reward for a change not just the bearing. Our reward is huge , that swap is not to be estimated by numbers of prisoners per soldier . It should be clear that our ability to let out so many prisoners life sentenced criminals out the field once again , is an act of honor and a mile stone in Israeli leadership .
Yes Israel is taking risks for its peace and well being of its citizens . Its a willing country The world has seen that .
Its time for us to rejoice and see that because now we got what we wanted
Gilad is Home with us . Reply

timea.m h.sz., Hungary October 18, 2011

When Hashem told Avraham that He wants to eliminate a whole city, (Sodom) because of the sin of its inhabitants, Avraham bargained with Him. At the end they went so far, Hashem said if there are only ten righteous people in the city He won't destroy it. So He was ready to keep the lives of the not so good people too for the life of the 10 righteous. A child's life has no high price to give for. That was the wish of Hashem now, in my opinion. I got to know Gilad's story this year in August. I prayed for His freedom. I am a mother, I know there is no high price for our sons return. Reply

Anonymous miami, Fl October 18, 2011

The hefty price This deal shows our enemys that we have a Jewish identity problem within us. Our governmnet is controlled by self hating jewish traitors that is so determined to undermine our jewishness in the land of Israel. I am happy Gilad returned but it should not have been done by sacrificing more Jewish lives through the deal reached. Our Torah tells us explicitly how to engage in war. The Jewish people need to learn not to care what the nations say abut them and only care about how to folllow G-d. Reply

Ben Avraham NY October 18, 2011

To Orly And now our neighbors in Gaza are asking for another "Gilad", G-d forbid and forfend...
BTW, you say no price is too high... WHO should be paying the price, though? I would think the kidnappers should be the ones paying, not us... Dontcha think? Reply

Avi Levy Punta del Este October 18, 2011

To Anonymous, London I think you missed the point. It is not a matter of "One of ours is worth 10000 of theirs". It is also not a matter of justice being done to those that are in prison for murder. It is a matter of, as the author writes: "the danger of concessions that simply whet the kidnappers’ appetites further." It is a matter of future national security. Reply

Mr. Bill Carroccio October 18, 2011

Gilad our Friend, Brother and Son Gilad Shalit is more than a Friend more than a Brother he is considered in Israel where I have many friend's a son and the Heart of Israel.I would have given my won life in exchange for his, he has been in my prayers for the 1600 days of the 1,942. HaShem has heard our ever cries and counted our teardrops for Gilad, today HaShem has turned tears of sorrow into endless tears of Joy. Jew's all around the world including myself even in Reading, PA USA were untited inprayer for Gilad. I had organized a prayer and fast event that was suppose to start today on Facebook for Gilad and his family. Yes I would have exchanged the entire prison filled with Hamas terrorist for Gilad. Israel has never backed down from any threats and with HaShem as the protector how could they fail!!
Shalom with Love from reading, PA Reply

BU Nine Mile, MI October 18, 2011

Well said. Mendy, thank you for writing the truth and for doing so in a sensitive way.

Thanks for writing what many of us are feeling and cannot articulate. Reply

Anonymous London, UK October 18, 2011

Gilad is Free Normally I would not reply as I am not anyone special at all but I am really surprised at what you wrote. Whilist I agree & am disgusted to see the terrorists going free as anyone human should be, I think you also forget the two most basic things. Firstly One of ours is worth 10000 of theirs & secondly those who do wrong will always face justice from someone higher than ourselves.

My prayers are with him & his family & those who were killed in the blood thirst and those who are still in limbo.

Whilist I normally feel lifted by the words of the Chabad who's words often get me through some hard times, I feel this time that just thinking we have given in, is actually as bad and as sad as loosing faith.

As my Wise Grandmother always said, always have faith that something good ALWAYS comes from something bad, even if we don't know it or can't see it at the time and to always remember someone much higher than ourselves will sort out those who do wrong when its their time! Baruch Hashem. Reply

Orly Fuerst Houston, TX October 18, 2011

Gilad It's a very high price. Before deciding it's too high, ask yourself, if it were my brother, my son, would it still be quite as high. We Jews have always paid gravely for our basic freedoms. Yes, it's a very high price. But finally, Gilad is home. Reply

What's the latest news? For that information, check your local or national news outlet. In this blog we will discuss the "why?"

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Rabbi Mendy Kaminker is the editor of Beit Chabad, the Hebrew edition of Chabad.org.
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