The recent disasters in Japan amount to divine orders for the country to release two imprisoned yeshivah students, a Chasidic leader told his congregation in Jerusalem earlier this month.
Rabbi David Twersky, head of the Jerusalem branch of the Rachmastrivka Chasidic community, was referring to two Orthodox men who were jailed in Japan in 2008 for smuggling drugs.
According to Israeli Charedi website Lada'at, Rabbi Twersky said: "The Japanese don't understand why they receive blow after blow, with no end. If they wish to put an end to it, they should release the two guys, imprisoned in their jails, immediately, and then they shall witness salvation."
The rabbi reportedly asked for the felons' names and offered a prayer for their wellbeing.
The Orthodox men, Yoel Goldstein and Yosef Grienwald, in their early twenties, were sentenced after they were arrested in Tokyo airport in possession of 90,000 ecstasy pills.
A third accomplice, a minor at the time, was convicted for eight years but the Israeli authorities arranged for him to be transferred to serve his time in his home country.