[By Rabbi Y. Eisenman ]
All of us, – Jew and Gentile – have been traumatized by the events of this past week.
Personally, I feel as if I have been hurt and violated in a way that I cannot recall in my entire life.
So many of the ‘assumptions and truths’ which allowed me to function with a degree of sanity and security have been pulled out from under me.
I do not (and would never) claim that the following words represent Dass Torah and do not claim they are anything more than my own humble opinion.
I certainly cannot explain why little Leiby was chosen by Hashem to be destroyed by this ‘creature’.
However, since as believing Jews, we are of the opinion that nothing (and we mean nothing) can occur in this world without Hashem ‘signing off’ on it, then we must grapple with the theological issue of ‘Why did G-d allow this to happen?’
Meaning, if G-d is in charge than how could He allow this to happen? And if G-d is not in charge….Well, I will not even go there.
Therefore, for most people reading these words, we have to grapple with the question of ‘why?’
Why did Leiby get killed and why did it happen by the hands of a fellow Jew?
Why was his death so horrific and so brutal?
What lesson could Hashem be imparting to us through this horrible and bloodthirstily merciless murder?
We believe that everything is for a reason and nothing happens without Hashem allowing it to occur.
This is in contradiction to New York police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, who “said it was “happenstance” that the boy had asked directions from Levi Aron, 35, a supply-store clerk and former security guard who lives less than two miles from the Kletzkys.” [NY Times 7/13/11]
Therefore, it behooves all of us to attempt to comprehend that which is incomprehensible.
This, therefore, is an attempt to offer some measure of understanding and perhaps (better said) an attempt to offer a reaction to the brutal events of this week.
Hashem in His ultimate wisdom wanted man to be able to be creative and feel safe and secure in the world.
However, if man becomes cavalier and condescending and lives life with a sense of entitlement, then Hashem has to do something to wake us up and jar us from our self-imposed stupor.
Why Hashem has chosen Leiby I will never know.
Why Hashem had to send us this message in such a grotesque and brutal wrapper is also beyond my understanding.
Nevertheless, there is a message and this message is something we must take to heart.
There is one thought I have not heard expressed in all of the discourse; one thought which has given me no rest; one thought which compels me at this moment to write and to write.
Although the hour is late, the heart aches; I must discharge my duty.
I must speak, for no other reason than Leiby can no longer speak.
Friends, do you know what thought precludes me from sleeping?
Do you know which thought constantly haunts me and prevents me from arriving at any sense of peace or sense of stability?
I keep thinking to myself how can it be that thousands of people from all over the Jewish world were willing to disrupt their normal daily endeavors to help find Leiby once he was missing- however, not one, and I mean not one person was willing to look down and see a lost little boy wondering far from home and bend down and ask “Mine teire kiind (my dear child) you are lost, let me help you get home.”
This thought allows me no rest and precludes me from sleeping!
Leiby must have passed well over 100 frum men and women as he walked his death-walk of approximately one mile from 44th Street and 12th Ave. until 18th Ave.
How is it that not one person saw the frightened lost little boy?
How is it possible that Leiby stood on 18th Ave. in the heart of frum Borough Park for 7-10 minutes while the ‘creature’ went into a dentist’s office to pay a bill and no one noticed and asked him, “Mine teire kiind (my dear child) you are lost, let me help you get home.”
How can that be?
Friends, yesterday when I went to the Levaya I walked around Borough Park for three hours before the Levaya.
Do you know what I saw?
I saw most people in the street talking on their cell phones and absorbed in their own worlds.
Do you know why Levi Aron (the cursed creature) was the one chosen to be asked by little Leiby for directions?
Very simple, he was available to be asked!
Everyone else was preoccupied with their own stuff.
If one person had volunteered and asked to help little Leiby during his one mile walk to death on Monday, thousands of people would never have had to ‘volunteer’ on Tuesday.
Friends, have we become numb and callous to the people and especially the children around us that we no longer even see who is lost and who is in pain right in front of us?
Have we become so wrapped up in ourselves and our blackberries, our smart phones and most importantly- ourselves, that we no longer notice a lost Jewish boy who is standing right there in front of us?
Can this be the wake-up call which Hashem is sending us through Leiby?
How often do we go into the local grocery and we see an old friend chatting away to what appears to be a container of milk?
How often do you see friends, rabbis and acquaintances on the phone in animated conversations as they walk down the street?
Levi Aron had the time.
He was not on the phone.
He was willing and waiting to be approached and to be asked by little Leiby.
Perhaps the message Hashem is sending us is that it’s time to look around and see which children are lost right in front of our faces.
However, it does not end here.
Its not only time to look around and see the little boys who are lost as they are walking right by us, its time to listen to their painful screams of pain.
Leiby had no one to ask except Levi Aron and that is tragic.
However, even more so, Leiby had no one to listen to his cries for help except Levi Aron.
This is horrific.
This must change.
Leiby is a wake up call for all of us to see who is lost and to hear who is calling out in pain.
There are many more Liebys’ out there who are lost.
We must open our eyes and see them.
And there are many Liebys’ out there who are calling out for us in their pain and they are not being heard.
I have a friend.
He is one of my dearest and closest friends.
He was hurt as a child and he cried out.
He called out and begged those he trusted the most in the world to hear his cry; to listen to his pain.
No one listened.
My friend has one of the holiest and finest Neshomos (souls) that Hashem ever created.
He is sensitive and kind; caring and compassionate.
However, my friend no longer associates with the ways and people of his old neighborhood.
He called out when he was hurt; he screamed for help when he was in pain.
However, no one heard his scream; no one believed he was in pain.
They told him he was bad when he was really good.
They told him he should stop crying while he was convulsing in pain.
My friend finally escaped; however, not before being scarred and traumatized.
No one heard his cry; no one listened to his scream.
I see my friend almost daily.
He is my friend.
And even though he has left the ways of the old neighborhood He still waits daily for someone to come over and say, “Mine teire kiind (my dear child) you are lost, let me help you get home.”
Who is listening to his cries?
Who is looking to see the next lost Leiby?
Rabbi Y. Eisenman is the Rabbi of Congregation Ahavas Israel in Passaic, NJ.
NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.