Kansas City was deeply connected to the violence that took the lives of Torah scholars in Har Nof. Rabbi Kalman (Carey) Levine was among the first graduating class of the local day school, the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy. Rabbi Moshe Twersky was the uncle of our colleague Rabbi Meshulam Twersky who teaches in our Matmidim program for observant students. As of this writing Rabbi Twersky is on a plane to Israel to be with his father, Rabbi Meir Twersky, and immediate family.
Before he left, our faculty gathered and Rabbi Twersky acceded to my request, and addressed faculty and students at our school. I will paraphrase what he said in hopes that it is accurate:
He quoted the Talmud saying that it was important not to exaggerate when eulogizing because it would be shameful for the dead to be misrepresented in any way, so even if what he said would seem to be hyperbolic, that it was not the case. He was very mindful of the sages perspective, and would, if anything, be speaking in understatement.
First, he remarkably stated that he had not given a scintilla of thought to those “who did this.” They were irrelevant; they were nothing to him. Rather, he focused on his uncle’s example and his life. His entire existence was devoted to sanctifying God’s Name. His life and death were part of the same continuum. There was no leap from his life to his death. Unlike most people who when they die, people tend to emphasize their best qualities, this would not be possible with his uncle. He was not a fragmented person–he was complete, he was that rare individual who exemplified shleimoot.
Rabbi Meshulam mentioned that he also knew Kalman (Carey) Levine whom he sat next to for three years while studying in Israel. He remarked on his indefatigueable enthusiasm for study. Some may say from this that it is a small world, but I think it’ a big world, but we’re a small people.
Although nobody has an answer for why this happened, we should focus on the what. For when you focus on the good, that which is not good falls away like a klipat shum a garlic peel.
Let us not empower our enemies by paying so much attention to them. Let us spend our time focusing on that which is good and true, and make the examples of their lives be the light while all else are viewed as merely shadows.