Ariel Sharon & the Rebbe MH"M
(The Rebbe’s Letters translated by Rabbi Zushe Kohn)

After 28 years of outstanding military service and 25 years in the political arena, Ariel Sharon has been elected Prime Minister of the State of Israel. * How a family tragedy led to a warm relationship and a decades-long correspondence with the Rebbe MH"M. * Sharon’s life saved by a miracle. * Exclusive to Beis Moshiach. * Part 3 of 3
(Click here for Part 1)

In the period between the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Arik Sharon had several confrontations with Chief of Staff Chaim Bar Lev, for the simple reason that their personal military philosophies were completely antithetical. But as Bar Lev was the superior officer and Sharon the underling, Sharon’s opinions fell on deaf ears in the high command, and against his judgment the famous Bar Lev line was established.

Then one day Sharon found an order of discharge on his work desk; he was being fired, thrown out of the army! He immediately lodged an official protest and appealed to then Prime Minister Golda Meir, but she refused to intervene in what she saw as an internal military affair.

The former powerful general suddenly found himself a civilian. As elections were then approaching, Sharon decided to enter the political arena. Still wearing his uniform, he met with Menachem Begin and Yosef Sapir. As he later related in a newspaper interview:

"I was having a fundamental disagreement with the high command over how to defend the Sinai. I was utterly opposed to the Bar Lev line, which later tuned out to be a disaster. In any event, that is the reason why I was pushed out of the army and decided to go into politics.

"Around that time I had a joint meeting with Menachem Begin and Yosef Sapir. It was an election year. The meeting ended up on the front page of the newspapers, and Bar Lev got a phone call from Pinchas Sapir advising him to keep me in the army so I wouldnstick my nose into politics. They decided to keep me in."

Throughout this time the Rebbe was keeping close tabs on Sharon’s exploits, and sent him many letters of encouragement in which he spelled out, among other things, his concerns about security.

The following letter to Sharon was not included in the official Igros Kodesh of the Rebbe, no doubt because the Rebbe indicated on the rough draft that parts of it were secret. In this letter, the Rebbe implores Sharon to stay in the military "and continue in your most responsible capacity and function," and strongly criticizes what came to be known as the Bar Lev line.




By the Grace of G-d

18 Menachem Av, 5730

Brooklyn, N.Y.

Greetings and blessing!

I gratefully acknowledge receipt of your letter of August 16. Due to the importance and urgency of the matter I am hastening to respond, especially to the letter’s conclusion.

As we discussed when you were here, it is my opinion that your proper place is in Tzahal, and it is there that with G-d’s assistance you are successful and will continue to be so. Of course, this is in addition to the benefit derived thereby by the general public - the Jewish Nation, the Holy Nation that dwells in the Land of Israel, the Holy Land, which G-d has blessed you with the privilege of protecting by means of your exceptional abilities, effort and vigor.

For this reason - and I told you this when you were here - you must certainly continue to serve in this very important capacity and role. I strongly hope that even if someone in Tzahal is not treating you properly, he too will ultimately acknowledge that you are a sincere person with a strong sense of responsibility and commitment to your mission - indeed, to the extent that it is your very life.

Based on the above-stated, one can readily appreciate my opinion, that it makes no sense at all for you to switch to a different occupation, and most certainly not in the political arena - even to become a government official - for that is not your mission, and you will not utilize your talents and experience thereby. Quite the contrary.

In addendum to the above-mentioned, if only Mr. _____ had also not left the army... The fact that he was harmed by others, who reportedly humiliated him and broke their promise to him, etc., does not make it sensible for him to harm himself. His departure from the army has harmed him, and likewise, the rest of the army which now lacks his skills and talents. This would be true even if had remained in the government; all the more so considering that he has not.

I generally do not meddle in army regulations, but I consider it very odd that when an amateur soldier, in whom only a few months of training was invested, wishes to leave the army, it is reckoned - and rightfully so - as a serious offense, yet when a general or the likes - in whom training of the highest order was invested, as well as considerable energy, money, and so on - wishes to leave, the decision is left to him, even when he explicitly states that his considerations are of a personal nature, and moreover, even when it is certain that his absence will harm the army and consequently, the general state of security.

The above-stated is intended as a parenthetical remark. With regard to you, however, I have not the slightest doubt that your mission and your success is specifically in the Army, especially at present when you fill a high-ranking position that is also vital to the security of the entire land. Of what consequence is a bit of personal discomfort or squabbling relative to the well-being and security of the general public?

All of the above is true even now, when their is no war. But, although I am not at all pessimistic, one cannot ignore the reality, i.e., the situation that will arise if things continue in their natural course. The enemy, situated on the other side of the Suez Canal, continues to strengthen and fortify itself. Despite all of Israel’s official condemnations, the enemy utilizes each and every day towards strengthening its military might, towards acquiring the most potent weapons, etc. - for there is no doubt that the Unites States is not going to enter into a war with the Soviet Union over this. As for Israel’s demand and outcry, "How dare they not abide by their promise?" (in reality, no one ever believed that the enemy would not take advantage of the ceasefire to reinforce itself, as was also stated publicly by General Chaim Hertzog in a newspaper interview, which means that by now it is clearly evident that even fools can no longer be deceived - if such fools who believed the enemy would not take advantage of the ceasefire ever existed. Most certainly, neither the members of the Israeli government nor of the U.S. government ever believed it, and the same is true of the Soviet Union and all the rest. This was also the case regarding the ceasefire of three years ago, fourteen years ago, and a number of times before that - no one ever believed that the enemy would not reinforce itself), these will continue as long as possible, and then in the end the Israeli government will resolve to maintain the status-quo, as they always do in the end. From this it is understood that in the negotiations concerning peace conditions - now that the enemy is reinforced and so on - the Israeli side will be at a disadvantage, because the state of security will have changed from one extreme to the other between the day the ceasefire was put into effect and the end of the above-mentioned negotiations.

I’m afraid - or perhaps I should say, I sort of hope - that just as they did at the beginning of the Six Day War, the enemy will again make a foolish move which will necessitate an annulment of the ceasefire agreement, and G-d will once again perform miracles and wonders, empowering Israel to mobilize all of its resources (in complete defense, rather than partial defense, as the case has been until now) immediately after the annulment of the ceasefire and the reinstitution of self-defense, the sole definition of which, in our context, is the launching of a preemptive strike. If these things would be done then there would be some hope that enemy-fire would cease permanently and peace would finally prevail - unlike the current situation in which, as mentioned above, the path being followed is one that leads directly to war, G-d forbid, with conditions much worse for the Israeli’s than they were on the day of the ceasefire agreement..

The above elaboration comes in response to your claim that what I wrote regarding the Canal is no longer relevant, for I suspect that in the not-so-distant future the matter will become relevant once again. If only this assessment of mine would turn out to be incorrect - but judging by the natural course of things this does not seem likely.

I was pleased to be informed by Mr. _____ that matters are well with you and your family. May it be G-d’s will that we should finally hear tidings of true peace in the land, which certainly will not come about by showing signs of weakness and readiness to make broad compromises and concessions, as is being done in the current negotiations, as even the newspapers are now publicizing. Quite the contrary. As the saying goes - if one truly desires peace, then he must demonstrate that he is even prepared to fight for it, with the utmost intensity and under the most advantageous conditions.

With esteem and blessing.

May we hear good news.

P.S. I didn’t want to mention it during the conversation we had when you were here - but on the other hand, I don’t see what right I have not to mention it - I strongly hope that you are careful to put on t’fillin every weekday. In your case it is not merely a matter of a single mitzva performed by a single person, but rather, a matter which concerns the well-being of the general public. Despite the fact that you are extremely busy with security matters and so on, as is well known, nevertheless - in fact even more so because of it - you should be careful to fulfill this mitzva properly. This relates to both the hand-t’fillin and the head-t’fillin. I hope you will pardon me for mentioning this.


The letter greatly influenced Sharon, as he later revealed in an interview:

"The Rebbe kept insisting that the Bar Lev line would be a terrible mistake. Even though all negotiations had been conducted in the utmost secrecy, the Rebbe apparently got hold of the information. He sent me a letter describing the disaster that would befall the Jewish people if the Bar Lev line were implemented. The letter was written several years before the Yom Kippur War, yet the Rebbe accurately foretold the terrible losses that were later sustained. The Rebbe compared the Bar Lev line to the Maginot line [a zone of French fortifications erected along the French-German border prior to World War II]. It was a difficult military decision. Then the Yom Kippur War broke out and we saw that the Rebbe was right. The discussions I had with the Rebbe always had an effect on me."

Later, when Ariel Sharon had just about left the army for good, the leaders of Mapai decided it would be better if he stayed in the military rather than become what they feared would be a formidable political opponent. Sharon returned to his former post, and a short time later, was appointed head of the southern command. In this capacity, he introduced a strong Israeli military presence into Gaza, and personally turned Gaza into a "sieve" for Arab terrorists. For many years Gaza was quiet, as the fear of Sharon had fallen on its inhabitants.

Four years later, Sharon took off his uniform for the last time and entered the world of politics. He founded the Likud party, uniting all the right-wing parties under the leadership of Menachem Begin.

When the Yom Kippur War broke out in 1973 the Israeli forces were taken unaware. Almost 3,000 Jewish soldiers died. The Egyptian army easily broke through the Bar Lev line, and hundreds of soldiers were trapped in their positions, exactly as the Rebbe had prophesied.

The State of Israel was thrown into a panic. Defense Minister Moshe Dayan started talking about an apocalypse, and Golda Meir even hinted at having to resort to nuclear weapons. Arik Sharon was quickly called back and reinstated as commander of the armored tanks.

Sharon later stated that when the existence of the Jewish people is in danger, one cannot sit around waiting for generals to make decisions.

Against this backdrop of pitifully low morale, Sharon proposed that the IDF cross over the Suez Canal and attack the Egyptians. It was a risky plan, which was not immediately authorized. However, Sharon did not wait for official permission and proceeded anyway. The operation essentially turned the tide and ultimately led to Israel’s victory. (In fact, it was only authorized after the fact!) The Egyptian army was taken by complete surprise. Sharon later stated that when the existence of the Jewish people is in danger, one cannot sit around waiting for generals to make decisions.

After the war was over Sharon returned to politics. Four years later, in 1977, Menachem Begin was elected prime minister of a right-wing government. Sharon was appointed Minister of Agriculture, and for the next few decades served in a number of different posts under several Israeli administrations. Today, after 28 years in the military and 25 years in politics, Ariel Sharon has now been elected head of the Jewish State.

The last time Arik Sharon came to the Rebbe was for Sunday dollars, Erev Rosh Chodesh Sivan 5749. The Rebbe greeted him warmly, and Sharon asked for a bracha for the security and integrity of Eretz Yisroel. The Rebbe replied with the words of the verse, "And I will give peace in your land, and you shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid." The Rebbe pointed out that the Torah doesn’t say "in the land" but "in your land," meaning that it must be obvious that the land is Jewish. The Rebbe also quoted the saying of our Sages, "Whoever refutes avoda zara (idolatry) is termed a Jew," and explained that avoda zara refers to anything that is contrary to the spirit of Yiddishkeit. In order for people to feel that the Holy Land is indeed Jewish, the observance of mitzvos must be encouraged and strengthened.

Unfortunately, Mr. Sharon does not have an unblemished record when it comes to upholding the Rebbe’s principles and teachings. As Defense Minister under Menachem Begin, he was responsible for implementing various stipulations of the Camp David Accord, including the heart-rending forced evacuation of Yamit in the Sinai. All of the Jewish homes were destroyed, and the land was handed over to Egypt.

Sharon was also involved in implementing the Wye agreements under Netanyahu, which essentially handed Chevron over to the terrorists in 1996. This was despite his promise to a group of Chabad rabbanim before the elections that a right-wing government would never give up an inch of land to Israel’s enemies. As a result of these actions, thousands of Jews are still in acute danger in Chevron and throughout Yehuda and Shomron.

We can only hope and pray that Mr. Sharon will rededicate himself to following the Rebbe’s guidance, which will guarantee the ultimate peace and safety of the Jewish people.


It makes no sense at all for you to switch to a different occupation, and most certainly not in the political arena...

Arik Sharon at the “Second Hakafos” in Kfar Chabad


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