Great is the mitzvah to redeem captives. There has been much controversy in the Jewish community over 3 yeshiva students who were caught entering Japan with a quantity of drugs. There is a significant custom among religious Jews to assist others by carrying small packages from place to place as they travel, thus saving others significant shipping costs while connecting friends and family through the transport of small packages that would otherwise be too costly.
In the case of these students, it's unclear whether they were simply carrying these (sealed?) packages as a favor to another, making them unwitting drug mules, or knowingly. What is known is that the potential prison term is extremely severe, and the prison conditions very harsh.
I have been asked to share this message of pidyon shevuyim - redeeming the captives...
As the trial of the youngest of the three yeshiva boys detained in Japan commences this Friday, 30 Jan '09 (Tokyo time zone is GMT +9 hours), and the other two bochurim's trial commence shortly thereafter, please pray for these poor victims, that they should promptly merit returning to their homes & community.
Yaakov Yosef ben Reizel
Yoel Zeev ben Mirel Risa Chava
Yosef ben Itte Rivka
BS"D - בסיעתא דשמיא