By COLlive reporter
The tragic passing of 21-month-old Levi Nemon, who fell to his death from a 6-story window in an apartment building in Crown Heights, has left a deep impact on many in the neighborhood.
Among them were two sisters, Mrs. Sarah Dukes and Ms. Rochel Spangenthal. Responding to the tragedy, one composed a piano song and the other wrote a blog entry.
A friend of theirs sent it to COLlive with their permission. “I think that they could really help the community feel and grieve and understand feelings that maybe they couldn’t express,” the friend wrote.
THE BLOG ENTRY
By Rochel Spangenthal
I have an exam tomorrow that determines the next year of my life. But I can’t study… I can’t really focus on anything. My mind keeps circling around to one thought:
You have to appreciate every little thing. Because it can all change in an instant. And you never see it coming.
Yesterday, a child in the Crown Heights community climbed out of his apartment window and fell three stories. He was rushed to the hospital.
My sister could speak of nothing else. ‘I just can’t believe it. I feel sick about it.’
I was stubborn in my response. Because I believe in the goodness of G-d and am frustratingly positive sometimes: ‘Look, he’s going to get better. He’s in the hospital. The whole world is praying for him. There’s no way that he’s going to pass away.’
I was wrong. I was absolutely wrong. And although I believe in an all-good G-d, He makes me so angry sometimes.
Although I’m an Orthodox Jew, I’m not afraid to admit that I sometimes yell at G-d. I stomp my feet and cry and demand that He do things differently. Because this is not the way that things should be. No parent should ever have to suffer the loss of a child. It’s unnatural. We experience not only the death of the child, but a kind of death of a part of the parent. I can imagine nothing worse.
And as time passes, fresh news articles appear above this one but my mind will not rest.
A few years ago, a Chassidic boy named Leiby Kletzky was kidnapped and murdered. I freaked out. I mentally wrestled with my beliefs in G-d and religion in general. How could I reconcile my belief in a glorious, all-powerful G-d with the fact that things like this happen in the world? And that they happen all the time?
An article on Chabad.org saved me:
‘My G-d, each day I am surrounded by Your wonders. Each day, I see Your miracles, one after the other, Your unending goodness to me and to each of us. I will not lose faith, I will not stop praying to You. But if I will not stand up and demand, “Does the Judge of all the earth not do justice?” if I will not declare, “Why have you done evil to your people?”—then what kind of a creature am I? And in what sort of a G-d do I believe?
One day, we will understand. Until then, we must be outraged. We must recoil with horror, we must reach deep inside ourselves, we must protest to G-d Himself. For only the righteously indignant can heal this world.
That is our answer for now: That we cannot be allowed to understand. For if we would understand, we would not be outraged. And if we were not outraged, then why would we ever stand up and do all that is in our power that such horrors could never happen again? And then there would be no one to heal G-d’s world.’
There is a reason why things happen. I believe that. But I also believe that G-d gets just as much pain from these things as we do. And that He is waiting for us to rebel against these tragities and evil realities.
We rebel by increased prayer. We rebel by adding more good and light to the world. We rebel by realizing afresh how much we should appreciate every moment and tell our loved ones how much they matter.
A popular reaction to tragedy within the Jewish community is ‘Oy, we need redemption! Moshiach where are you!?’
And I don’t know why this reaction bothers me. I suppose because Moshiach is not something to be thought of only in times of pain or as a band-aid for tragedy. And it makes us seem helpless. And we are not helpless. We are a force to be reckoned with. We are stubborn children who want their way. And we can get it.
If we truly believe in an ultimate redemption, then we also need to believe that we have the power to bring it about. Through prayer… through good deeds… via any route necessary.
May we all be able to rebel in the best way possible. May we be able to value every moment with our family, with our little finances, with whatever we have right now.
May the neshama of Chaim Yisroel Levi Yitzchok halevi ben Sarah Rivkah have an aliya and may his family be comforted in their loss. And may we cease to know any more suffering with the ultimate redemption.
By Sarah Dukes
A terrible tragedy just occurred in our community and a little angel was taken away from us. I have no words- the emotions are too strong for me to restrict them into words. There is so much I feel, so much to say, but when I try, nothing comes out. I am left silent.
Victor Hugo said, “Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” So instead of expressing myself through words, I chose to do it through sound. I went to the piano and just let my fingers play out my emotions. This is not a perfect recording, rather it is a complete representation of raw emotion.
To Sarah Rivkah Nemon, please know we are all here with you. May you and your family be comforted in this moment of loss, and may G-d give you the strength to deal with this nightmare, one that no one should ever have to experience. And remember, you are never alone. May there be no more suffering for anyone, and may G-d show us only revealed good.