There are multiple layers to these tragedies and their impact on our people. Of course there is the loss of precious life, the potential that can now never be realized, and the impact of these individuals that will no longer be felt. There is the tragedy of the murderers and how they have forfeited their Godly spirit by having engaged in acts that are the epitome of evil.
But it occurs to me there is yet another tragedy and loss – there is the loss of our innocence, replaced by feelings of fear and dread. Leiby’s murder has inspired parents of young children around the globe to wonder should we let our children walk around alone? Beginning at what age? For what distance? At what time of day? Rabbi Abuchatzeira’s murder has already motivated Rabbis to ask questions such as “can I meet with people one on one anymore? Am I safe even around congregants and students whom I thought I knew well?”
Some may argue that asking all of these questions is a good thing and will yield greater safety in the long run. Others believe that harping on these questions will produce a culture of neuroticism, paranoia and unnecessary worry and fear. After all, these were isolated incidents carried out by deranged, psychotic individuals and in no way reflect a real danger. I personally don’t know which attitude is correct, but I do know that prior to a few weeks ago we were not struggling with these questions and that too is a great tragedy in my opinion.
As we rapidly approach Tisha B’av and please God conclude this inauspicious period of mourning and heartache, let us look forward to the time that the Navi (Prophet) predicts in which men and women will sit in the streets of Jerusalem and watch as children play freely in perfect safety with unbridled joy and happiness.