I had to do something very painful and difficult today. I actually cried when it was over. I went to be menachem avel a family - a wonderful, beautiful family, a Rabbi and Rebbetzin who are so completely given over to their community, loved by all. The family is sitting shiva after the passing of their sweet, innocent 9 year old son and brother who passed away in his sleep on Shabbos.
There were thousands at his levaya. Hundreds were at the chapel in Boro Park, thousands escorted this wonderful little boy as the levaya passed by 770 in Crown Heights, more than 150 cars drove behind the family to the cemetery, hundreds more escorted him as they passed by his family's shul in Long Island, and hundreds more greeted him at the cemetery itself.
As I sat in little Levi's z"l living room today I listened to his mother speak. She spoke about how as busy as her schedule was she sometimes found a little pocket of free time on her calendar. She spoke about how at one of these times she picked her son up from school and took him snow tubing. She spoke about times that her son needed some extra attention so she let him daven at home and drove him to school a little late instead of rushing him off to the bus with the other kids. The she looked around the room and said to the crowd of women sitting there -
"I apologize if there are educators in this room who get offended by what I say, but mothers - I urge you to spend time with your children. I urge you to appreciate those little spots of extra time that you have with them. Please stay in tune with your child's needs - listen and see if he needs just those extra five minutes of your time and attention, if he needs it and you give to him he will gain tremendously."
She read some entries from his school journal - many of them spoke of times that he spent alone with his mother, his writing rang with pride.
As I left I thought about this woman who has ka"h a large, growing family, runs a shul, a preschool and countless other programs, easily has 30 people at her shabbos table, 50 people at her yom tov table. I thought about how she must hardly have time for herself and yet she manages to stay so in tune with her children's needs.
I also thought about myself, and my job as a teacher. Teaching to me is not a job, it's a passion. I love every minute that I am interacting with my students. I thought about those students who sometimes come late, those students who sometimes miss school or leave early. I thought about them and realized how lucky they are and how lucky their parents are - just to get to spend those extra few minutes with them.
Then I looked at my tiny little Chaya Mushka ka"h and I promised myself -
School is important, it will always be, but I won't forget to listen to my child, I won't forget.