Nearly 15 years ago, Nachshon Waxman, an Israeli soldier, was kidnapped by a group of terrorists. Klal Yisroel stormed the gates of Heaven. Women lit their Shabbos candles extra early. Tens of thousands gathered at the Kosel for a special yom tefillah. And yet, in a daring and valiant rescue attempt in which the terrorists were killed, Nachshon did not survive.
In an unforgettable interview, a reporter asked Nachshon’s father why G-d ignored all the prayers. Why hadn’t He listened? His answer was epic. “Indeed, G-d listened and answered. The answer was no.”
Before last Monday, most of us had never heard of Yehuda Leib ben R’ Nachman. By Wednesday, we would never forget him.
Oy….zeeseh Leiby! In you we saw our own children, our own siblings.
The Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh writes that the parsha of hashovas aveidah refers to the entirety of the Jewish People. When they are lost, they are the ultimate “aveidah,” and the Owner is searching for us.
Leiby’s disappearance awakened in tens of thousands the desire to search for a lost Yiddishe child. For those few days, it did not matter what color yarmulka we wore. It did not matter if you are Sefardic, Ashkenazic, Chassidish or Litvish. A Yiddishe kind was lost. We hung onto every piece of news as if Leiby was our own – because, indeed, he was.
We hoped against hope that maybe, somehow, we would find him alive. And, as the situation turned bleaker, we doubled and tripled our efforts to bring Leiby home.
But the middas hadin had spoken, in a manner rarely seen.
Chazal tell us that the Bais Hamikdosh was destroyed because of sinas chinom, senseless hatred. For no reason at all, Yidden hated each other. The only way to offset senseless hatred is with senseless love.
Senseless tragedy calls for the same. More love. More achdus. More caring. More unity. More hope.
Nebach! How many lost Yiddishe kinderlach are there?
Lost to their mothers. Lost to their fathers. Lost to the Ribbono Shel Olam!
But we can find them. We must never stop searching. We must never stop loving. We must never stop hoping. We must reach out to those in need.
Dare I suggest a possible nechamah. Leiby, you have awakened us as no child in recent memory. You have crystallized how much we love our children and the lengths we will go to find them. We will hope against hope that no child will ever be lost again.
We will not let this moment pass. Just imagine if every family in Klal Yisroel made the commitment to reach out to a child in need, and extend to him or her an open heart, an ear to listen, and a shoulder on which to cry. What if those who are estranged from their children will set out once more to search again, to find their precious child?
And Leiby, that is all in your zechus…
We won’t stop searching. Leval yidach mimenu nidach…
Tears blinded our eyes as we heard the brutal news. Those tears are not in vain. The Chasam Sofer writes that when a Yid is killed and brought as a korban, the tears shed for the “korban” provide the nesachin, libations, and perfect the korban. Thus, our tears complete Leiby’s perfect korban.
Rav Yitzchok Hutner once wrote to an avel, “Lenachamecha? Eineni yodei’a keitzad. Aval yeish Mi sheyodei’ah – To comfort you? I do not know how. But there is One Who does know…”
– – – – –
To contact Rabbi Spero or to submit comments, email to firstname.lastname@example.org.