I almost dread this time of year. There always seems to be very bad news. Tammuz and Av. Two months in the Jewish calendar that spell disaster.
Monday Facebook was flooded with pleas for prayers to find Leibby Kletsky. A young Brooklyn boy, one week shy of his 9th birthday. I saw the post, and truthfully, I thought nothing much of it. I thought that for sure they would find him, he probably got lost on his way home from camp.
Nothing prepared me for what I saw on Facebook the next day. This small little boy was found, but dead. Killed in a most gruesome way. My heart broke into a thousand pieces. How could this happen, what sicko could do something like this to an innocent child?? And then, what made this whole thing even worse, was the revelation of who the murderer was. Another Jew. Preposterous. Not to say that the Jewish people are exempt from doing terribly bad and shocking things. I am sure there are Jews sitting in jail right now for murder. But this? This was murder, for no reason at all. This was cruel and evil, this was deranged and sick. I don’t think that in my 37 years on the planet, I ever heard of a Jew acting like this. Perhaps I am naive, but I hope this murderer was one of a breed that deserves to be wiped off the face of this earth. I do not care what his childhood was like, what experiences he had, I don’t care. No-one has the right to steal someone’s baby – and kill them. This is what the residents of Sodom and Gemorrah were guilty of, kidnapping. Killing, oh , and it just struck me – cutting off their guests’ feet.
I am scared for the repercussions of this event. It is a very black day in the history of the Jews that one Jew could do this to another. It goes beyond heinous. After all our history as a nation that has suffered so much at the hands of other nations. Persecution is no stranger to us, but we almost expect it from others, not to come from within out own ranks.
What this lunatic did, has shaken the entire Jewish world, and the world at large. Anyone and everyone with a heart and a conscience has poured out heartfelt messages. My FB page had posts from everyone around world, crying out for this child, heartbroken for the parents.
We cannot understand what happened here. It is beyond comprehension. Just like the holocaust. Beyond reason, beyond human thought. But as I look at it, Leibby begged his parents to let him walk home from camp for the first time that day. Despite reviewing directions home a few time, he got lost! In a strange part of his neighborhood, he probably spotted one man who looked like a religious Jew, and made the irrevocable decision to stop him and ask for directions. A logical decision. One we would all have hoped, a week ago, that if our kids were lost to perhaps do the same. To look for the person that is most familiar. An orthodox Jew. One that follows the dictates of the Torah, surely one would think our kids would be safer? After yesterday, that safetynet has been slit wide opne. Now when we speak to or kids about strangers, and getting lost, there is no-one safe to turn to. Perhaps he would have been safer asking the hobo, strung out on a street corner? But as the NY Post says after stopping to ask for directions, “he sealed his fate.” Obviously trusting this person, who outwardly looked like anybody else that you or I would know, he got into his car. The vile excuse for a person, probably told him he would take him home. And that was the last anyone saw of little Leibby.
How strong a message does this send to us mere individuals? G-d is telling us something….What are we doing wrong as a community? As individuals? You can say ” Hang on a minute – I never even knew the kid. What have I got to do with his murder?” As hard a pill this is to swallow, we as the Jewish people, are responsible. Our actions do dictate our fate. It has always been like that.
And I will be direct in saying this. As you read this, don’t say to yourself, ” I am a good person. I am ok. I try my best”. Guess what? That is not enough. We are living in crazy times. The orthodox world is no longer a place reserved for pious people. There are definitely those among us, but for the rest of us, we are very far from perfect. We have to really examine who we are and what we represent, and whether we act in way that would deem us to be worthy of the title of a religious Jew. And to those secular jews among us, that are reading this. It is no longer ok to do nothing. To speak about the frum jews as ‘they’ and ‘them’. We are all one people actually. Like it or not. You are responsible to act in a certain way, and abide by certain laws that were given to you. Sory to be so harsh. I am not asking anyone, secular or religious, to now become holier than thou. I just want everyone who reads this post, to think of one thing that they will change in their lives, as a step in a postive direction, to making this world a better place. But you HAVE to commit to it. I have some suggestions. For the frum contingency, you can endeavour not to speak loshon harah at a certain time every day. You can take on a perek of tehillim every day, you could be more careful with kashrut and the list goes on, I am sure you do not need more suggestions from my side.
And for the non frum, you could take on a small thing. You could not eat milk and meat together, you could stop eating pork, you could light shabbos candles, you could neggelvas in the morning ( ritual hand washing. One flushes their hands with water alternating right to left, six times, first thing in the morning. Even before going to the washroom).
None of these things would drastically alter your life. But believe it or not a small act, performed with the right intentions, could actually change this world into a better place. Let us make sure we NEVER hear another gruesome stroy like this. Let us endeavour to stop the bloodshed, cruelty and animosity that exists in the world. It is our resposibility to make this world a safe place and haven for ourselves, our children and our generations to follow. Please try.