By Rabbi Pinchas Frankel

“Fear No Evil”



Parashas Ki-Savo - 5776 –


I would like to compare Parashas Ki-Savo, which describes the blessings which the People of Israel would receive if they obeyed HaShem’s commandments as given in the Torah, and the curses they would receive if they disobeyed them with the book, “Fear No Evil,” by Natan Sharansky, which describes the bitter experience of Russian Jews, mainly as reflected in the experiences of the author, in his struggles with the KGB in the latter part of the 20th Century.

Parashas Ki-Savo begins as follows:

“It will be when you enter the Land that HaShem, your God, gives you as an inheritance, and you possess it, and dwell in it…Then you shall call out and say before HaShem, your God, ‘An Aramean, tried to destroy my forefather. He descended to Egypt and sojourned there, few in number, and there he became a nation – great, strong and numerous. The Egyptians mistreated us and afflicted us, and placed hard work upon us.’ Then we cried out to our HaShem, the God of our forefathers, and HaShem heard our voice, and saw our affliction, travail, and our oppression. HaShem took us out of Egypt with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm, with great awesomeness and with signs and wonders. He brought us to this place, and He gave us this Land, a Land flowing with milk and honey.”  (Devarim 26:1, 5-9)


Now, to pick up with “Fear No Evil,” Sharansky’s battle against the KGB:

“For  the KGB, a person was a means of attaining a specific goal – a goal so important that any number of bodies (not to mention souls) could be sacrificed to achieve it. For us, however, the person was the goal. What we hoped to achieve was nothing less than man’s rebirth. By reclaiming our national and historical roots we hoped to advance from spiritual slavery to genuine freedom.”

“Of course my most precious memories were of Avital, and I lovingly recalled the first time I met her. It was a Saturday in the fall of 1973, and I was standing outside the Moscow synagogue  when a tall and lovely young woman came up and introduced herself as Natalia Stieglitz. Her brother, Misha, had recently been arrested  during a demonstration and sentenced to fifteen days, and a mutual friend had told her that as one of the regular demonstrators, I might be able to explain the usual procedure in these cases.”

Sharansky is forced to respond to seven accusations against him: Part of his response follows:

“First, that our documents about Soviet Jews were true and not slanderous. Soviet Jews really are subject to forced assimilation and cut off from their own language, culture and religion. Can you name a single school where it’s possible to study Hebrew or even Yiddish? Can you name a single Hebrew book published in the Soviet Union? A book on Jewish history? A Hebrew Bible?”

“Sixth, the word ‘Zionist’ was being used as a legal term that was equivalent to ‘anti-Soviet’ or ‘treasonous’ But Zionism is simply the national liberation movement of the Jews for creating their own state. If Zionism was illegal, why did the Soviet Union recognize Israel as soon as it was founded?”

“Five years ago I applied for an exit visa to emigrate from the USSR to Israel. Today I am further than ever from my goal. This would seem to be a cause for regret, but that is not the case. These five years were the best of my life. I am happy that I have been able to live them honestly and at peace with my conscience. I have said only what I believed, and have not violated my conscience even when my life was in danger.”

“For 2,000 years the Jewish people, my people, have been dispersed all over the world and seemingly deprived of any hope of returning… And today, when I am further than ever from my dream, from my people, and from my Avital, and when many difficult years of prisons and camps lie ahead of me, I say to my wife and to my people, ‘Leshanah haba’a B’Yerushalayim!’ ”


L’Illuy Nishmas beni, Aharon Baruch Mordechai ben Pinchas Menachem









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