The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 20 September 2008 / 20 Elul 5768

One Way to Stop a War

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

"This is the prime minister of Georgia, Vladimir Gurgenidze, speaking. You brought me a letter from a man name Steiman. Is he still alive? I've heard that he is a holy man. I want him to pray for us and our state."

This was what Rabbi Shimon Bruk, chairman of the Israel branch of Hava'ad L'hatzalat Nidchei Yisrael, heard on the phone on the morning of August 12th when war between Russia and Georgia was reaching a climax. Bruk had met with the prime minister in March to thank him for his support of the Jewish educational institutions that his organization had established in Georgia. He also presented him with a letter from the revered rosh yeshiva in which he referred to the Georgian government as a "regime of lovingkindness". The letter is reportedly hanging on the wall of the prime minister's office.

Rabbi Bruk met with Rav Steiman around noon and presented Gurgenidze's request. Shortly after the rosh yeshiva gave the requested blessing came the announcement of the cease-fire.

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