The Matzav Shmoooze: Our Children’s Safety – A Wake-Up Call


kidsDear fellow readers,

I had been following the situation with Leiby Kletzky very closely. I davened for him, and when I heard the terrible news of how he’d been found, I was devastated. I can’t even imagine what his family must be going through. It is a parent’s worst nightmare made reality. However, it also got me thinking.

When I was young, I wasn’t allowed to walk places alone at that age. When I was older, I walked my younger siblings to friends who lived only a block or two away. However, when I drive through Boro Park now, things are different.

I see young kids out by themselves. I’ve seen a 5 year old boy pushing a stroller with what I assume is his 2 year old sister in it – without a parent in sight. Kids are riding bikes in the street – without helmets. Where are the parents? Do they realize what is going on? What danger their children are in?

I once had a boy run out into the street in front of my car. I slammed on the brakes and luckily stopped in time. I got out and asked him where his mother or father was. He pointed to the house. I went up and rang the bell. The mother opened the door, and I told her what had happened. I asked her, “Why aren’t you watching your son?”

She said, “I was looking out the window.”

“Really? Tell me, what’s the license plate number on my car?”

She just stared at me. I went on, “I could have grabbed your son off his bike, thrown him into my car, and taken off – within 10 seconds. You would have no way to track me down! You’re inside, you can’t see me well, and your son is riding his bike up and down the street, without a helmet. Is this responsible?”

She had no answer for me.

Let the tragic events of this week be a wake up call for us. Too often, people are not careful with our greatest treasure. When we have a fragile, expensive item, we handle it carefully. We don’t take our crystal and just throw it into a closet. We don’t balance it precariously on top of things. Our children are so much more precious than our other possessions. Why don’t we protect them the same way? Don’t let your children out alone when they’re young. Sadly, there are many sick people out there. It only takes a few seconds, and the nightmares are suddenly all too real. Please, protect your children. They are our greatest treasures.

A Concerned Parent


The Matzav Shmoooze is a regular feature on that allows all readers to share a thought or analysis, long or short, one sentence or several paragraphs long, on any topic, for readers to mull over and comment on. Email submissions to

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    You completely missed the boat. Of course one has to be safety concious, but this is not what the Rbs”o wants from us. He is calling us to do teshuva. Everyone in their own way.

  2. I strongly disagree with the poitn above! you are missing the message that Hakodosh Boruch Hu is sending!AND IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SAFETY!!!Sure we must do our hishtaadlus, in keeping our kids safe, but piggybacking on this tragedy to get your message of regular hishtadlus out is hashkafically WRONG!!

    If you have a spiritual message we would like to hear it otherwise keep these tips for a different time

  3. I didn’t let my daughter walk alone (to BNOS) until she was in 10th grade. I thought that might have been excessive, but now I wonder.

  4. This story is not a safety wakeup call. Leiby’s parent’s did everything right about his safety. You can’t b’derech hateva protect from every madman.

  5. Everyone’s right! But Maamin beat me to it.
    There are so many stories circulating, including the “confession.” People reading such stuff might be scratching their heads. No, as sheltered as a child might be children at that age are prepared by their parents not to docilely do everything as described. Please don’t believe that garbage; believe in the parents.
    This does not mean we shouldn’t continue being vigilant, make sure our children are aware, review safety procedures, etc. But one reaches a point – and one has to know his/her own children – where it is reasonable and correct to go on to the next stage, etc. If we’re all a bit more neurotic now, understandable, but please, parents, react properly. Talk to someone older and wiser for reality checks. And if it’s appropriate to let go a bit more, do so.

  6. if you’d like to post a safety awareness, put it on your calendar for some random time, next February, if you have an opening.

  7. to #2:
    this is not blaiming his parents at all, this is rather a time of rethinking for us parents in general. & he’s rt.!!!!!

  8. This editorial is a great point, and it is very likely Hashems way of saying wake up, and watch those precious jewels, and protect them. Commentars here probably dont have kids of their own! I’m fed up with people missing the point of a tragedy and relating the lessons of it to events entirely unconnected! Tshuva why of course, but firstly lets start with Tshuva with whats entirely related. This child Leiby at least from what appears thus far, knew very little about not talking to strangers, because he was entirely mislead by a total stranger, and even went into a stranger vehicle. And so yes directing our children how to deal with strangers is a very important lesson of this story, and who could have told us this message better then the father of this innocent nishumu, at the livaya.

  9. In my humble opinion, this story is way too extraordinary to bring any kind of lesson. Yes, we must take every reasonable precaution when it comes to the safety of our children, but this horrible story does not have any relevance. I still plan on teaching my children that if they are ?? ????? lost, they should go to a frum Jew and ask for help. I stress that they should never enter a vehicle or private home, but I’d rather they approach a frum yid then any alternative. This story is far less than a ????? ??? ????? – getting hit twice by lightning on the way to a neighbor is probably more common!

  10. How interesting it is to read these comments from people preaching – who claim to know what Hashem wants.

    I didn’t realize we had nevuah nowadays.

  11. This article is right on the money. All those who want to say that the author “missed the point” have a one-dimensional, superficial view of life. One can take a message of teshuvah AT THE SAME TIME as increasing safety awareness. They are not a stirah to each other.
    #1 and #3 do you have children? If so, did you not feel the (proper and healthy) instinct to protect them when you heard this terrible maaseh?
    There are many things one can learn from such an impactful occurence. Yes, teshuvah should be one of them. But there is nothing wrong with learning a practical lesson as well. We would be foolish not to.

  12. We have allowed to sweep the child molestation problem under the rug. As a result, it has become taboo to even talk about such issues among adults, let alone caution the children about the problem.

    And if we can’t even deal effectively with the common molester, we are all the more unprepared to deal with such extreme perversions such as the one at hand.

  13. strangers are not dangerous, one in a million is a sicko, lack of bitachon to worry about them.
    most molesters are family and trusted people, seldom strangers.

  14. The parents are not to blame, they thought the kid knew the way and knew what to do in case he got lost. He was 9, not 5 or 7. Big difference.

    . Now, because we are all more aware now that there are monsters even in “safe” neighborhoods, parents need to be over-careful. A kid walking alone should know to approach first
    A) a woman with children
    B) a woman without children
    C) a man with children
    D) a man without children
    and ask not for directions but for them to use their cell phone to call —
    ideally ask loud enough so more than person hears and helps –
    the person should be asked to call:
    A) mom and dad
    B) police
    to come get him, not asked to take him home.
    And the order above (woman with kids before man) applies whether or not the people look like religious Jews.
    The NEVER get in a car rule with strangers is key.

  15. To many terrible events are happening now. My condolances to the parents may they be comforted amoung the mourners of jerusalem.

  16. I’m glad that everyone seems to know exactly what Hashem was telling us. Here I was, thinking that nevuah was lost to us, but clearly I was wrong – because some people here know exactly what message Hashem is sending us!

    As for this case, it pains me to say it, but his parents clearly didn’t do it right. He got lost, didn’t he? He clearly wasn’t ready.

    Just as a side note, I was driving last night on Bay Parkway, and was going to turn onto McDonald Ave, when two young chassidish kids on bikes rode out into the street in front of me. The older one couldn’t have been more than 10, and the younger one (his brother?) was a few years younger. Guess what? They weren’t wearing helmets. Never mind NY law says that they have to be wearing a helmet. Where is the responsibility of the parents to make sure their kids are safe?

  17. Rav Avigdor Miller z”l said that when a tragedy occurs we should look for the cause and learn from it.

    Here the parents did their best in telling their son how to go to reach them and they can not be faulted for that.

    However, as Modest has indicated, he apparently did not have enough information about who to turn to when in need.

    This is a lesson that we should take from this tragic event that we should give our children guidelines on whom to approach. Go to a woman with children first and then to a woman alone etc.

    There also should be training for the children to avoid predators such as not getting into a car with them or going to strangers homes.

    Just like when Yehobnasan was killed, Dovid hamelech said Lelamed benay Yehuda keshes, which means that since he was killed in battle, we need to improve our military skills. Here we need to upgrade our training for our children to insure their safety.

  18. Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Pinchas
    Time: 2:16 PM Pacific Standard Time

    Of course, like countless others, I must have my infinitely painful feelings of severe Aveilus – severe mourning for this horrific unspeakable tragedy tghat has occurred.

    And like countless, I must add my statements of:




  19. Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Pinchas
    Time: 2:56 PM Pacific Standard Time

    We must all have a Goisser Yasher Koach – a real hearty “Thank You” to Mr. and Mrs. “A Concerned Parent” for this extremely, EXTREMELY excellent article!

    I have posted this remark here a number of times and will place it again now, for it is very important.

    I was once privileged to stay at the house of the Chabad Shaliach in Boulder, Colorado. While there, I saw a few of the videos that his children were playing. One of them was about rules of safety. The opening scene of the little skit showed a tall man who was dressed up like a clown walking by a swimming pool. In a happy sounding voice, he announced:




  20. I do have children. And, I find the idea that a nine year old should not be allowed to walk a few block by himself to be inane. Children NEED to be given independence in small increments are they grow. What is being suggested is that we do something that will clearly hurt our children (ie smother them) in order to avoid something that is really one in a million.

    If there is a lesson in how we raise our children I would say it is this:

    We need to teach our children how to handle situations like getting lost, including who are the safest people to ask for help. And perhaps, we should also teach our children that if their parents have not given someone their stamp of approval, that they shouldn’t be too compliant.

    This is NOT about what the parents did here. We don’t know too much, but what we DO know indicates parents who were careful and thoughtful.

  21. Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Pinchas
    Time: 3:33 PM Pacific Standard Time

    (continuation of my previous comment)

    That’s right;

    “When it comes to safety,” THERE CAN BE —


    There is absolutely nothing whatsoever to discuss!!

    We must, we absolutely MUST keep ourselves and our children absolutely totally safe!! Period!!

    This IS a Mitzva of the Torah – an Instruction of G-D that we must do!

    This IS the T’shuva – the repentence that we must do!

  22. Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Pinchas
    Time: 4:27 PM Pacific Standard Time

    (continuation of my previous comment)

    For far, far, far, too long, many people have let their doors be open and/or their children go out by themselves into the street with the logic of:

    “Oh, THIS is a good neighborhood!”

    “Oh, THIS is a frum area!”

    “Oh, he is just going ‘down the block’!”

    “Oh, he is just ‘two blocks away’!”

    “Aw, nobody is going to do this!”

    “Aw, nobody is going to do that!”

    “Aw, my kid is ‘older’!”

    “Aw, my kid is ‘grown up’!”

    “Aw, my kid ‘knows’ not to do this!”

    “Aw, my kid ‘knows’ not to do that!”

    “I’m running in ‘just for a minute’!”

    “I’m letting him do it ‘just this one time’!”

    ALL of these arguments are COMPLETELY WORTHLESS!!

    “Nobody is going to do this!”
    “Nobody is going to do that!”

    BUT THEY DID!!!! THEY DID!!!!!


  23. Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Pinchas
    Time: 4:53 PM Pacific Standard Time

    (continuation of my previous comment)

    Again, we absolutely must keep ourselves and our children totally safe!! ALL children at ALL times must have full ADULT supervision!!

    Until what age do children need adult supervison??


    Again, this is a Mitzva of the Torah – an Instruction of G-D that we must do!

    Again, this is the T’shuva – the repentence that we must do!

  24. Yes, @25 – and sometimes even after – such as when in shidduchim, and shana rishona. Of course, by then the supervision must be subtle and acceptable.
    As Rav Miller, ztzl, often said, the first law of the Torah is, Don’t be a fool.