The following article by Yochonon Donn appears in this week’s Hamodia Weekend Edition:
As the jury foreman was reading the verdict the twelve jurors had just reached - he would be convicted of most of the charges against him - Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin passed a note to his wife Leah.
“I am an eved Hashem wherever I am, and whatever happens I remain an eved Hashem,” it said.
The former vice president of the nation’s largest kosher slaughterhouse still believes that Hashem put him in this situation for good reason, and he must accept it b’simchah.
“Part of bitachon is that you have to be b’simchah,” Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz of Yated Ne’eman quoted him as saying in a telephone conversation with Hamodia yesterday. “You have to understand that everything is from Hakadosh Baruch Hu. We are servants of Hakadosh Baruch Hu and a servant is a servant wherever he is.”
This attitude is nothing new. According to people close to Mr. Rubashkin, he has been getting up for years at 4:30 every morn-ing to say the entire sefer Tehillim.
When the jury took a break for Veterans Day, the day before they were to issue a verdict, Mr. Rubashkin used the opportunity to drive home to learn in the Postville Yeshivah.
“I feel like I want to be in a makom kedushah,” he told someone. “I have to be in yeshivah and I want to learn.”
Coming to Agri
When Mr. Rubashkin married Leah Goldman in 1981, he spent a year learning in kollel and then began to work in his father’s butcher shop.
Interviewed in Binah Magazine for the Sukkos edition, Leah said there was certainly nothing glamorous about his first job.
“In the summers he used to drive up to the mountains with truckloads of meat, selling to stores in the various bungalow colonies,” she said. “You could call him a salesman, but actually he was shlepping boxes into the truck, shlepping boxes out of the truck, helping women figure out which chicken was fluffier and which one was cleaner.”
Soon the Rubashkins were sent to assist the shluchim in Atlanta, Georgia, where the family stayed for a year. But their next step in life was already on the horizon, as Agriprocessors opened that year.
The family’s experience in Atlanta made them realize how scarce kosher meat could be outside the main Jewish centers. So when his father asked Sholom if he would help out with his new venture in Postville, Iowa, Sholom visited the plant and realized that there was an opportunity to further the interests of kashrus by utilizing modern technology. He also liked the idea of making his impact on kiruv through the medium of a slaughterhouse.
“That was his whole mindset while he was at work: ‘What can I do to further kashrus in America?’” Leah says.
That mindset remained with Mr. Rubashkin through the good years and the bad.
While the Rubashkins were well off, “basically what they did with their money was use it for chessed and maasim tovim,” says Rabbi Lipschutz.
It is obvious that Sholom learned chessed at home. Crown Restaurant on 13th Avenue (Boro Park) is essentially a soup kitchen run by Rivkah Rubashkin, Sholom’s mother.
Mr. Rubashkin was known in Postville for his generosity with Jews and non-Jews alike. Although the judge did not allow character witnesses to testify at his trial, some evidence of his good-heartedness found its way into the courtroom.
For example, when a witness testified that she saw Mr. Rubashkin give an envelope to a worker, she jumped to the conclusion that he was giving her cash with instructions to falsify documents.
But the real story emerged under cross-examination. The worker’s son had been killed in a car accident and Mr. Rubashkin was giving her money to pay for the funeral. And the defense lawyer reminded the witness that she herself had asked Mr. Rubashkin to help pay a terminally ill colleague’s hospital bill. The witness admitted this. “And I am sure that Mr. Rubashkin would do the same thing for me,” she concluded her testimony.
Sholom Rubashkin ran the local grocery in Postville at a loss to foster the establishment of a Jewish community; he was the prime sponsor of the Postville yeshivah; and he could be relied upon by the local needy and foreign meshulachim alike for help.
Walking home from shul on Shabbos, he did not have to wait for cars to pass - the non-Jewish population esteemed him so much that they would stop for him.
We Can Help
Rabbi Lipschutz has started a fund to help pay Sholom Rubashkin’s $1.5-million legal defense costs.
Tax-deductible contributions may be sent to Pidyon Shevuyim Fund at 53 Olympia Lane, Monsey, N.Y. 10952.
CHIZUK FOR SHALOM MORDECHAI
All readers are invited to send letters, articles, sichos, or anything of interest to Reb Shalom Mordechai , who sits in prison, the victim of a governmental witchhunt ignited by the likes of PETA, the unions, Heksher Tzedek activists and others.
Letters and other correspondence for Reb Shalom Mordechai may be sent to:
Linn County Correctional Center
Inmate Shalom Rubashkin
P.O. Box 608
Cedar Rapids, IA 52406-0608
Make sure to write a return address or the mail will not be delivered to him.
Please continue to daven for Reb Shalom Mordechai ben Rivkah.