Dismay – Japanese Injustice Travesty and Tefillos

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    The recent terrible setback for Yaakov Yosef ben Reisel with regard to the incomprehensibly cruel verdict should make all of us utterly heartsick, yet even more determined to redouble our efforts with Tefillos for Yaakov Yosef and Yoel Zev ben Miral Risa Chave and donations for the Pidyon Shvuyim funds (at http://www.japanpidyon.org). The callousness and dogged determination (on behalf of the judges and prosecutors) to: (1) deliver punishment reserved for great crimes (drug trafficking) to people who were so totally oblivious of their actions; and (2) to try to tally up every possible judgment error as if this prooved some nebulous form of guilt (while ignoring all incidents of prosecuterial misconduct), should cause us to shudder, such that we bear witness to this day to the greatest travesty of justice (in a modern “civilized” country) that we thought was reserved to medevil times. We can only rely on Avinu Shebashomayim. To that end, I wish to present a “prayer” written for the Bochurim:

    Our Father in Heaven, please be filled with mercy for our brethren who are languishing in a Japanese jail;

    Only You, the Creator of all, can fully feel their pain and suffering that is far beyond human description;

    From Your Throne of Mercy, please make their pitiful and fearfully miserable plight rise up to You;

    Deprived of all creature comforts, devoid of contact with their family and nation;

    Please do not forsake them in their moment of great need; do not leave them in the hand of their tormentors any longer.

    Overnight two healthy young men have become dreadfully sickened;

    Taken over by forces so powerful that have virtually squeezed out their very life blood;

    Ribbono Shel Olam, if our sins have brought this catastrophe on our brethren, we are ready to do any act of Teshuva necessary;

    Our Master, how mighty is Your name throughout the land, please reach out mercifully with Your outstretched arm;

    And pluck them out of captivity, back to the loving arms of their families;

    Ribbono Shel Olam, You are the ultimate Matir Assurim, the Helper and Support of the helpless;

    Please consider this predicament of the 2 boys in heinous imprisonment as a Tzoro of the highest proportions, deserving of your unlimited mercy;

    Your Scheina is with them, being imprisoned, languishing in inhumane conditions;

    Please join our Tefillos, however inadequate they are, with the desperate cries of these boys from the deepest pit of all mankind;

    Our Merciful Father, please remember the parents and families of these 2 boys;

    Whose suffering is beyond human imagination, their nightmare is indescribable;

    Please arise oh Caretaker of all the downtrodden and release them from the hands of their captors;

    Break their shackles and return them in peace and health to their families;

    Restore to them and their families Simcha and the basic human amenities of freedom.

    Avinu Shebashoyim, instead of the joys of a Chasunah that other young men have to look forward to;

    These boys have only to look forward to days upon seemingly endless days of inhuman horror;

    Our faculties are so shaken, our insides so twisted in sorrow and agony at the thought of their tribulations;

    Please release them from their bondage, may their suffering come to a merciful end in a most happy way;

    Allow them to return to their homes in Eretz HaKodesh to serve You once again with unrestrained joy in their souls and with reinvigorated bodies.

    Ribbono Shel Olam, our simple souls cannot imagine any future or happiness for those languishing in those fearsome conditions;

    But You on High, understand the purpose of their suffering and pain and see their future, through the dimness of this tragedy;

    But will they have any future at all if they remain in the dungeons that strip mankind of their sanity?;

    Our Father and King, we come before You to ask that You act for the sake of Your Name, so Powerful and Merciful;

    For the sake of Your Scheina that lies with them in their horror and for the sake of releasing their families and all of us from the bitter wormwood that we taste as long as they are in captivity;

    Please fulfill for them the words: And the ransomed of Hashem shall return, and come to Tzion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.


    I really don’t understand something. Why is Hashem doing this? They are innocent boys doing whatever they should be doing and they have setback after setback. They are learning torah and davening while in prison, what more does Hashem want? I know this is probably a stupid question. I just can’t seem to get passed this. Why do they have to suffer like this for such an innocent mistake?


    Happiest: No, it’s not a stupid question. It is the question many people, including great tzaddikim have asked: “Tzaddik vera lo rasha vetov lo”. Why???

    The answer? We don’t understand. This used to be very difficult for me to accept. What do you mean, “I don’t understand”?! I DO want to know! After all, I’M the one suffering! Only after extensive research and painful months have I come to the conclusion that Yiddishkeit is the Truth. Once I REALLY believed, I stopped asking questions (I still have questions, but I don’t necessarily need an answer). Not because everything is crystal clear. But because I believe and TRULY trust Hashem. He obviously knows what He’s doing. He’s been running the world forever and always managed without my “help”. Besides, how do we know the cheshbon up there? How do we know which gilgul this bochur is and why he must go through this suffering? We will get all answers up there.

    Meanwhile, all we’ve got to do is daven, daven and daven some more.


    happiest –

    i was thinking that way too. but then i realized that its not for us to question why. Hashem has a master plan, and He knows what is best for everyone. we dont see how this could possibly be the best, but you just have to know that it is! i once heard that the world could be compared to the back of a needlepoint. all knotted and messed up. but after 120 we’ll go up and see the clear, beautiful front of the needlepoint. the whole picture. but for now, all we can do is daven to Hashem that whatever this poor boy is going through should i”yh end soon and it should be a kapara for all of klall yisrael!!!


    While I concur entirely with the sentiments expressed by the OP regarding the terrible plight of these imprisoned young men, I cannot agree with his condemnation of the Japanese. God has commanded all the nations of the world to create justice systems. To mankind’s credit, many nations have followed those instructions and have created civil and criminal justice systems, as well as laws that govern their citizens’ conduct. Some nations, like the U.S. and other western countries have systems heavily weighted to favor defendants, while others, such as Japan, favor the prosecution. The latter prefer law and order at the expense of harsher sentences and the conviction of more innocents, while the former elevate individual protections of social order.

    Unfortunately, these young men made a grievous error, and ran afoul of the Japanese justice system. I hope and pray that they fair as well as possible during their ordeal, but we should not use this incident as a platform for denigrating another countries justice system, especially one that is not arbitrary, unequally applied, or inherently unjust.


    RSRH: Guilty until proven innocent is never a just system.


    Guilty until proven innocent is never a just system.

    What makes you think that is the system they have?

    Here is the wikipedia page:



    Popa, because that’s the Yeshivish thing to say about the case.


    RSRH: No one is condemning the overarching system of justice that Japan claims to have; rather the application of “justice” as pertains to the Bochurim (see the 2 points I made above) is completely arbitrary and capricious and neglects to work with the real facts of the case, and this is what we call out “foul” to and abhor.

    Moreover, what really is called to question is: what drives you to defend the Japanese judges and prosecutors who are going out of their way to leverage every ounce of punitive measures they can dredge up against 2 fine people (non-criminals by any stretch of the imagination), when our every morsel of energy should be used to be Noseh B’Ol Im Chaveiro (with the Bochurim) and to feel their pain; and from this realization of pain, to cry out to Hashem on their behalf? Every ounce of energy used to defend the Japanese is robbing yourself of the energy to throw yourself in front of the Kisei HaKavod and beg for the plight of the Bochurim. The Japanese can defend themsleves just fine without your help; Jews need other Jews to defend them against our oppressors.


    charliehall: They’ve never admitted to smuggling nor had they known they were smuggling. They simply thought they were bringing something for a friend, fully legally. They were unaware of the false bottom.


    While I feel terrible for these Bochurim, I wouldn’t blame the Japanese justice system.

    They didn’t know they have drugs with them, true, but the fact is that they entered the country with illegal material.

    Japan has the full right to punish them, no matter how much it hurts us.

    I,too, Davened so much for them to be freed, and I wish they wouldn’t have to suffer these consequences. They so didn’t want to do bad. My heart goes out to them as I continue praying for them.

    But blame Japan? I don’t think it’s right. They’re just punishing an illegal act. Something that is a very terrible crime in that country.

    Hashem should help them get through this crisis easily and quickly.

    m in Israel

    charlie hall – Why do you keep reposted the misinformation that these boys admitted to smuggling? Where did you get your information from? If you have been following the case at all the point is the boys did NOT know they were doing anything illegal — and the courts have acknowledged that, which is why they were only convicted of negligence rather than smuggling.

    Their story, which the Japanese court system has ACCEPTED, is that they thought they were carrying religious antiquities which are exempt from tax and completely LEGAL to be brought into the country. However due to the high value of the items as well as their delicate nature, the items were packed in false bottoms to protect them and prevent theft.

    NO ONE involved in the case has rejected this story. The issue is that the judge has ruled that there was enough about the story that should have given the boys ground to be suspicious, and therefore their lack of suspicion constitutes a form of negligence. This is very different from the version you keep posting stating that they thought they were smuggling something else.

    However, I agree with those pointing out that this knee jerk reaction to criticize the Japanese justice system seems dishonest. It is not a matter of “wasting energy” trying to “defend” the Japanese justice system. It is a matter of not distorting facts. These boys were not convicted of the more serious charge of drug smuggling, under which they could have faced life in prison. Even under this conviction, Yaakov Yosef was sentenced to 6 years, when the prosecution was asking for 13 — and it is likely that he will be extradited to Israel within the next 10 months. The judges also used leniency in terms of how they calculated time served. I am certainly sad about this verdict, and continue to daven for these boys, but it is hard to justify all this vitriol against the Japanese, who do not by any account appear to be singling out these boys in an unfair way, according to their laws.


    m in Israel:

    In no decent system of laws would failure to be suspicious get someone 6 years in jail (and 13 was asked for by prosecutor)- that is what they are charged for. If I think I am doing something legal and I was fooled, my mistake should not land me in jail for 6 years. How can you call this system of “justice” fair? Whether they are being singled out or not, it is still terribly unfair. By your arguement if everyone got jail for jaywalking, it should be fair since they were all treated alike. And let’s not give the judge any credit for leniency; if you go to http://www.japanpidyon.org, you will find that it states “The defence attorneys were dismayed at the callous nature of the judge’s dismissal of the defence arguments”, with many examples backing up this charge. The judge failed to examine many of the exculptaory evidence items and made up a ridiculous charge that the Bochurim’s failure to realize something amiss could have cost many lives, thus justifying 6 years in prison for negligence! Yes – it is a tremendous waste of Hashem gift of breath to laud or defend the Japanese while you should be using that very same time to beg for Rachamei Shomayim on the Bochurim’s behalf. Hayetachen that you should defend the Japanese?

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