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Dec. 2, 2021 - 28 Kislev 5782
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Section:  Avodah   Category: Innocent Observations
The Day That Leiby Died

Ever since the tragic levaya of Leiby Kletzky I've davened and feared for his life. After Leiby's death his name was on everyone's lips twenty four hours a day, and the subject of every conversation. Yet I knew it couldn't last. Leiby's death was tragic and maybe more horrific then any death that most of us remember in our lifetimes, no matter how old or young we are. But at the end of the day his death to unfortunately most of us was just a piece of news.

All news no matter how sensational eventually gives way to staleness and makes way for fresh news. Some news lasts longer than others but at the end they are all archived and put in the back of our collective memory, fading into the past.

So too while Leiby was very much alive and in our minds for the past month, for many people in Eretz Yisroel Leiby "died" with the horrific news of the murder of Baba Elazar. To the Yidden in America since Leiby was in our backyard and Baba Elazar was not Leiby may still live on, for the time being. He may remain alive through the summer, but eventually its back to work and back to school and Leiby we be no longer.

How can we keep Leiby alive? Surely not by following every twist and turn, every new rumor, and every update of the story. If that is all Leiby means to us then he is already dead, whether we are obsessed with him or not. The only way to keep Leiby alive is to change ourselves in a meaningful, however so slightly.

While writing Sifrei Torah and starting a Tzedaka fund is surely a great Zchus for the Neshama, do we really think Hashem said, "I need Klal Yisroel to get together and write another Sefer Torah, how can I do that? Hmmm.... lets take a child is a most horrific manner and then surely we can get this Sefer Torah done!" I doubt it and so do you. Hashem sent us a wakeup call and demands change. Real change, and not a few tears and back to our routine. If the only thing we learned from Leiby is the experts opinions on how to protect our children, then we learned very little, and Leiby's blood was spilled in vain.

Kol Yisroel Areivin Zeh LaZeh. This is the reason for our incredible unity in the days surrounding Leiby's death. When Leiby was murdered a small part of each and every one us was murdered with him. When Leiby's parents grieved, we all grieved with them as we all lost a child and we all felt their pain in a certain sense.

Yet on the other hand this same principle applies to the crazy cruel murderer, who as much as we'd like to distance him from ourselves, is also a part of Areivim Zeh LaZeh. That means that each one of us in a small way particiapted in the murder. We must all have at least one bad bone in our body and tinge of cruely in our heart. If not this murder would not have been possible. The goodness in us would have prevented the madman from carrying out his evil deed.

Are we compassionate enough to our own children? Do we ignore them at times purely for our own selfish interests? Are we concerned with children we see around us? What about the fellow in the street who looks a little off, do we smile and have the courtesy to say hello? Do you have any idea how it can change his world?

By finding and correcting the flaws within us, we can keep Leiby alive, as the new us will be directly attributed to Leiby and we will carry him in our heart and deeds. We can prevent the next murder, by softening the heart of any potential perpetrator with the goodness radiated from us into his own perverse soul. Will Leiby live or die? It is up to us.


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