In Memory of Leiby Kletzky Hy”d: There Are No Words, Only Tears


candleBy Rabbi Benjamin Blech,

Tisha B’Av came early this year to Boro Park.

An eight-year-old boy, Leiby Kletzky, was on his way home from day camp in Brooklyn when he mysteriously disappeared. A frantic search, spearheaded by the FBI and aided by the entire community, failed to find him for two full days. And then his mother and father had to endure every parent’s worst nightmare.

Leiby was found hacked to pieces. Parts of the body were discovered in a suitcase wrapped in a black plastic garbage bag in a dumpster. The rest were in the refrigerator of a man “now being questioned.”

Words fail to convey the immensity of this tragedy.

Apart from its ghoulish aspects, it is simply too much to imagine what it means to send off a smiling child for a summer’s day of fun only to learn that all that is left of him is a memory.

It’s been said that the cruelest word in the English language is “never.”

Never will Leiby’s parents ever again be able to hold him, to hug him, to prepare him for life with words of advice and of Torah. Never will his family be able to share in the milestones of his growth to maturity. Never will there be a bar mitzvah to celebrate, graduations to attend, a wedding canopy to stand under with him and his bride as he prepares to embark on his own journey to family and future.

Never will all those who knew Leiby as a child be able to find out what his unique talents might have enabled him to accomplish.

Never will the Jewish community discover the contributions Leiby might have made to it and to the larger world.

Ever since the beginning of mankind the Torah reminded us that a single death leaves none of us untouched. In the aftermath of the first murder, God turned to Cain in anger and admonished him with the words “The sounds of the bloods of your brother cry out to Me from the ground.” Not blood, but bloods, in the plural. The meforshim explain that when Kayin killed his brother, he effectively destroyed all of Hevel’s future progeny as well.

In the words of the Gemara, he who murders one person is as if he destroys an entire world.

The loss of one person diminishes every one of us. It affects our collective future. It alters what might have been. It prevents us from ever receiving all the precious benefits every single life has to offer.

And when murder snuffs out the life of a child, the enormity of the word never – that we will never truly know what that child might have become – staggers us beyond comfort.

This is not the time for us to attempt any glib rationalizations or theological efforts to explain away the horror. Halacha, in its profound wisdom, teaches us that we are not permitted to offer consolation “while the body is still before us.” The time for comfort can come only after the necessary tears.

I remember very well a somewhat similar moment in the community I served as spiritual leader. There was a tragedy that involved a young child. No one could think of any words that might alleviate the suffering of the parents. We tried but found ourselves wanting.

The scene is indelibly etched in my mind. A small group of us went to the parents, hugged them, tried to say something, choked up and simply cried.

Days later, the parents told me the only thing that helped them get through their tragedy was what we did for them. Not our words, but our tears.

“You showed us that the pain wasn’t ours alone. Your sharing our grief made it somewhat bearable.”

And that is what we must do now for Leiby and his family.

We must let them know that we cry with them.

Our tears are the words our hearts don’t know how to express.

The fact that we shed them proves that evil has not fully triumphed.

And most important of all, the Medrash assures us that the tears of the righteous summon the Almighty to hasten the day when wickedness and its practitioners will be eradicated from Earth.


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  1. I wasn’t functioning normal today. When I heard the news, the tears flowed, and the whole day it was on my mind. I can’t stop thinking about the pain the family and the world is going through. It’s unfathomable! I cried this morning & I’m stil crying now, many hours later… May Hashem bring us Moshiach really soon and end this galus of tragedies! Amen!

  2. “”BIG MISTAKE””

    Tisha B’Av came early this year to the ENTIRE WORLD.

    Even though summer is here and we want to enjoy ourselves we still must take something upon ourselves to improve spiritually in order that when the real Tisha B’Av comes around we will already be in Eretz Yisroel with the Bais Hamikdosh and the leaders who can lead us in a Yidesheah life style. AMEN

    YES! There Are No Words, Only Tears…

  3. There are no words? Really now? Then we are acting B’Rishus. He Aron was insane. We are not. There are words. Injustice. “Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof”. We need to pursue justice with all our strength.

  4. Tisha B’Av came early this year – to Klall Yisroel.
    This is a National tragedy.
    The entire Nation of Yidden!

    May we all be comforted – before the next Tisha B’Av with the coming of the Goel Tzeddel.

  5. nothing more need be said. THe value of personal tears and being with the family at this terrible time is the best way to console, give nechama, to the family.

  6. as we all sit stunned by the immensity of this tragedy, our thoughts, prayers and yes, tears are with Leiby’s parents, family and community

    yehi zichro baruch

  7. Of course, all of Klal yisroel is crying with the Kletzkey’s. We can not imagine the imense pain they are now experiencing and can not comfort them. But we Can and must cry with them.

  8. maybe now we will learn that there are real dangers to our children in the midst of our community and if you see something say something to the POLICE!

    If you suspect a child molester call 911 ASAP!!!!

    It could be your child!

  9. Tisha B’av came early this year to Klal Yisroel not only Boro Park. We are a tzibbur who suffer together.

  10. Do not hide or diregard molesters
    Never hope that by covering it up because of the shame or “shidduchim” the problem will disappear
    It will not.
    Deal with it so to save little boys and girls or big young men or womans lives !

  11. Thank you Rabbi Blech. Every yid should do something tangible today to bettr themselves and the world.
    Yehi zichro baruch.

  12. i’m not jewish but i feel so much sadness and pain about the death of leiby and for his family. if i were jewish, i would have gone to the funeral at borough park, as a non jew i weep privately. G-d help us.

  13. I’m not even a parent, but on Wednesday I shared the grief of little Leibby’s dear parents. I cried bitterly that night as if I had lost my own family member.