Leiby, it’s been a week since the discovery of your death. So much has been written about your life and your death. I don’t have anything to add. But I need to write because in your death I am revived and compelled to appreciate my life differently. It’s only been a week since your death. A week blurred by tears. Confused by questions that are too raw to ask. Stymied by the inability to fathom any answers. Leiby, your death makes no sense to me. The monstrosity that has been perpetrated on you is beyond anything I have experienced- with all my knowledge of forensic psychology. The excruciating pain I am in has opened me up to a new reality that I have never experienced before. And as always, when things affect me so deeply without any iota of logic or understanding I recognize a thunderous albeit hidden message from Hashem to shut my mind off and listen. Leiby in your death Hashem has my ear. My life is at a standstill, stunned into paralyses but open to what Hashem wants me to hear.
The unimaginable pain that your parents must feel is something very foreign to me. I was unable to volunteer in the search for you, I did not get to go to your Levaya and I did not pay a shiva call to your family. I have not, yet, contributed to the memorial funds or began thinking about how to make a change in my life. I am technically so distant from you. Yet, Leiby you are my son, you are my brother, my nephew, my cousin and my friend. Leiby, you are me. It’s not about the achdus that all stripes and colors of frum Jews banded together for a week, which of course was beautiful. It was not about the Kiddush Hashem of more than 3000 frum people gathering together to search for you or the 14,000 people who came to your levayah, which was awe-inspiring. It’s not about the unbelievable resilience that our frum world has in trying to gain Chizuk by turning your death into an opportunity for growth. It’s not about the plethora of frum Chesed organization with hundreds of volunteers and employees painstakingly working on the forefront of educating our parents on how to talk to our children, helping us cope with the trauma, child safety etc… All these things are astonishing and amazing and make me proud to be a part of our community.
But what moved me so profoundly was how personal your death is for me. Driving into work on Wednesday morning at 6:15 am and hearing about your death on the radio- I cried. And I cried periodically throughout the entire day and the next day. And the next. I cried because, although I have been frum my entire life, I never before felt so keenly connected with you, with every Jew. You, me, your parents, my parents, my family, friends- all of Klal Yisroel- one being. Frum, not frum, Yeshivish, Chassidishe, Mordern Orthodox, Lubavitch, Chaim Berlin, Breslov, YU, Brisk, New York, LA, NJ, Israel, South Africa. I cried because of how deeply I felt in my bones how we are all together members of Hashem’s nation. I cried because after decades of hearing Shiurim and teaching others about Sinas Chinam have never acutely felt the pain of another “distant Jew” so peronsally. Experiencing such a deep connection with every other person who has a Neshuma is what moved me.
Leiby, this Tisha Ba’Av I will cry again. I will cry because I know that in reality there is so much infighting within our community. Infighting between Rebbes, within sects of Chassidim, between the Yeshivish and the Modern Orthodox etc etc etc… How day after day there are siblings at each other’s throats. Only because they have learned to deal with their frustrations by being nasty, after all that’s what their parents did to each other. I will think about how many friends continue to sling insults and lawsuits against each other for petty and pathetic reasons. How many couples, even in the midst of the divorce, can’t seem to stop hurting each other. How many small arguments, hatreds, resentments and stubborn stupuidity infests us. I will cry over the politics and the Chitzonius. I will cry over the destruction of Yiddishkeit, burned down to the rubble and ashes of Machlokes. Your death, the horrible destruction of the little Beis Hamidash named Leiby Kltezky, serves as an acute reminder to me of how connected we really all are.
May we all be zoche to continue recognizing within ourselves, the deepest connection we have to each other as one big Neshuma and may that affect the way we treat each other. May we be zoche to the building of the Beis Hamikdash B’Mheira Amen.