The press reported the tragic death of 12 year old Yaakov (Yanky) Shlomo Yudelevitz from Beitar Illit, who drowned on a class trip to the Hatzbani (Snir) River Nature Preserve in the Upper Galilee. His mother (“Don’t Let Yanky’s Tragic Passing Be In Vain”) has just issued an appeal that all people should emulate his efforts to eliminate anger, a worthwhile goal.
My revered rebbi, Harav Avigdor Miller zt”l, used to admonish us after a tragedy, as Dovid Hamelech spoke to klal yisroel after the death of Shaul and Yonosan, “Le’lamed livnei Yehuda keshes” (Teach the people of Yehuda how to use a bow). In this case, I believe, it was reported that neither Yaakov nor any of his rebbeim could swim nor do CPR and they sought out others to help save Yanky. In addition to the Gemorah’s suggestion that a father teach his child to swim, a yeshiva ought to have some of their staff trained in these basic skills as a normal precaution. Likewise, more supervision may be necessary, especially when it seems the boy had disappeared from the others.
Rabbi Shimshon Grosbard, chairman of Hatzoloh Beitar Illit, is correct when he said, “Nobody can be blamed.” True, no individual is guilty. Yet, he continued, “It’s important to repeat the established safety guidelines over and over again, and for adults to warn youngsters. In this case they did follow safety guidelines as far as we know, yet a tragedy still took place. Therefore, it’s important to go beyond the safety guidelines, keeping a close eye out to ensure that everybody is under supervision at all times. On excursions with groups of small children they should be kept close to the adults to prevent falls, choliloh.”
True, nobody can be blamed, but, if Yanky’s passing is not to be in vain, we all need to heed the matter of safety.
Rabbi Yosef Wikler
Editor, Kashrus Magazine