Thursday, August 04, 2011

Baby Killer - and Secret Atheist

Levi Aron is a Brooklyn resident who has confessed to murdering on July 12, 2011 an eight year old boy whom he had just recently met on the street. Prior to his arrest, Aron was a member of an Orthodox synagogue and had once studied in a yeshiva. Was he, however, a true believer or a secret atheist?

Here is a photo of Aron from Facebook, pre-arrest:


Here he is the day following his arrest:


Here he appears in court for the first time, later that same day:


Here he is in court for the second time, today:


Had he appeared to his victim, Leiby Kletzky, a Hasidic child, as he appears now, with no distinctive Jewish clothing, would Leiby have gotten into his car?

Furthermore, according to news reports, police offered Aron food at some point the evening of his arrest. Aron said that he did not eat kosher and when detectives suggested he get Burger King or McDonald's, he said McDonald's. He wound up eating Chinese food.

I have never heard of any statement made by Mr Aron concerning his beliefs. I would very much like to visit him at some point and question him personally. However, I believe this does this emphasize the importance of ridding our community of the phonydox.

I cannot overemphasize the importance of identifying these imposters, expelling them from our homes, schools and synagogues and creating an Internet database tracking them. It's a matter of life and death.  

57 comments:

Alex said...

"However, I believe we may ask, does this emphasize the importance of ridding our community of the phonydox? "

I think it just emphasizes the importance of ridding our community of homicidal maniacs.

Michael said...

I think it's appropriate for Jews who commit public acts of wickedness to shed any surface religious vestments. It mitigates against the Chillul Hashem that they create. Better that they not be identified as an adherent of the Torah, while being brought up on charges for such crimes.

jewish philosopher said...

"I think it just emphasizes the importance of ridding our community of homicidal maniacs."

By all accounts, he wasn't. He was a very nice guy according to both ex-wives.

"I think it's appropriate for Jews who commit public acts of wickedness to shed any surface religious vestments."

After butchering a small child, he's worrying about how wearing a yarmulke might tarnish the orthodox community's reputation? I dunno. Could be.

onionsoupmix said...

some courtrooms do not permit kippot

http://www.jlaw.com/Recent/yarmulkecourtroom.html

jewish philosopher said...

Judges in New York seem to be ok with it.

http://articles.nydailynews.com/2009-03-05/news/17917844_1_sexual-abuse-ex-wife-testify

Joe said...

This post should be appropriate for this subject:

http://www.dani18.com/index.php?show=P176E

Alex said...

"After butchering a small child, he's worrying about how wearing a yarmulke might tarnish the orthodox community's reputation? "

Or, perhaps a fellow Jew "suggested" he take it off.

Veronica said...

Prior to his arrest, Aron was a member of an Orthodox synagogue and had once studied in a yeshiva. Was he, however, a true believer or a secret follower of JewishPhilosopher?

Maybe Aron discovered that little Leiby was the secret atheist. And, getting suggestions from the JewishPhilosopher blog, did what he did.

jewish philosopher said...

You see sometimes you have unfortunate situations where a person who is actually orthodox commits a crime. He may let's say embezzle a million dollars. Jews are human; we are all sinners. Some of us more so than others.

In this case, however, I seriously question if the perpetrator was in fact orthodox or merely posing as orthodox.

Surely if someone were secretly Muslim, but dressing up and posing as an orthodox Jew, would blow up a bus, we would not count that as a crime committed by a member of our community.

jewish philosopher said...

"Was he, however, a true believer or a secret follower of JewishPhilosopher?"

Probably Aron is a space alien.

But seriously, atheists take murder far more casually than monotheists. Just listen to Jeff Dahmer

http://www.youtube.com/v/IjW7bezdddE

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_Dahmer

Of course atheism doesn't encourage murder or encourage anything. However it removes all inhibitions against murder, or any other crime. 

Abe said...

I'm an atheist and my inhibitions against murder haven't changed. However, I still want to step on that stray centipede in my basement. But before my morals can be lost, I need to visualize the centipede as a belzer chasid. And if that extreme rumination doesn't permit me to diapatch that bug, the image of Jacob Stein crunching beneath my shoe would surely relieve my conscience of any regret.

jewish philosopher said...

"I'm an atheist and my inhibitions against murder haven't changed."

So when you believed you would burn in hell for committing murder you would still have killed just as readily as you would now that you don't believe in an afterlife. I must say I don't see how that works.

jewish philosopher said...

"Or, perhaps a fellow Jew "suggested" he take it off."

Who knows? I'm really only speculating. To my knowledge other orthodox Jewish criminals don't change their garb. Perhaps some believe that their "piety" will invoke some leniency.

http://www.adirondackdailyenterprise.com/page/content.detail/id/133796/Rabbi-pleads-guilty-in-NJ-corruption-case.html?isap=1&nav=5018

Alex said...

Switching to the other murderer in the news, the murderer of Rabbi Abuchatzera:

The murderer recently gave Shiurim in Elad. One of the attendees reported: "Just yesterday, he gave an informative shiur in the synagogue about the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash and Sinat Hinam and caused many people from the audience to cry."

jewish philosopher said...

Unfortunately, Judaism doesn't cure schizophrenia.

http://www.vosizneias.com/88303/2011/07/29/jerusalem-suspect-in-abu-chatzeira-murder-made-reference-to-moshiach-ben-ben-yosef/

Jeff said...

"Unfortunately, Judaism doesn't cure schizophrenia."

The link refers to his religious beliefs.

Since when do you consider religious beliefs to be psychotic?

jewish philosopher said...

"Since when do you consider religious beliefs to be psychotic?"

They aren't, however delusions may indicate psychosis. This is a little more explicit:

The attacker has been named as Asher Dahan of Elad. Hareidi-religious news outlets report that Dahan was suffering mental illness, and that his condition had recently deteriorated despite psychological care.

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/146195

And schizophrenics may suddenly turn violent.

Transient violence is limited to an acute psychotic episode; as psychotic symptoms abate, the violence resolves. Delusions, hallucinations, and conceptual disorganization are key triggers of transient violence. Excitement, anger, and agitation are its prominent symptoms.

http://www.schizophrenia.com/sznews/archives/004870.html

I'm just speculating based on a few media reports that Dahan was experiencing a fairly typical violent schizophrenic episode, possibly brought on by his impending divorce. That's what it sounds like to me, at any rate.

"it reached point that I was afraid of a divorce"

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/146239

Simple logic will indicate that as the size of the orthodox community grows, the number of crimes, although not necessarily the crime rate, will grow too. And then there is the apparently growing problem of atheists posing as Jews.

natschuster said...

I read in today's newspaper that Aron requested a meal from McDonalds. This calls his Orhtodxy into question.

jewish philosopher said...

Thanks! I added that to the post.

JRKmommy said...

OSM:

Thanks for the link.

Was the appeal court quoting the trial judge as ordering the removal of the kippot? Reading it over, it seems like an appeal judge was commenting on a less tolerant trial judge, quoted what happened, and then the final bit goes back to the voice of the appeal judge. I read it as obiter dicta stating that a could SHOULD accommodate religious headgear.

I know different jurisdictions have different rules, but the rules of court where I live are quite clear about permitting religious headgear. The only limits are use of niqab (Islamic face veil covering everything but the eyes) by witnesses, since facial expression is part of assessing credibility, and permitting a Sikh to carry a kirpan (ceremonial dagger).

I'd be shocked if kippot weren't allowed in New York.

Re the main post:

On another site, a poster that I've known for years said that her husband was the manager at the hardware store where Aron worked. She described him as being a bit slow, somewhat of a loner, and someone who would generally give monosyllabic answers.

While he has been found fit to stand trial and it's unlikely that he would meet the legal standard for the insanity defense, he does seem to have some degree of impairment and/or mental illness, possibly schizophrenia. Those around him say that he never really fit in - customers got a bit freaked out by his stares when he worked at a deli, and in Brooklyn he was just working as a stockboy. The exes say that he got along with children - perhaps he fel that they were more on his level.

In short, he really doesn't fit the "secret atheist" profile. He had already lived away from the community when he went to Tennessee, he didn't have to keep up appearances for a wife and children and to maintain a reputation in community, and he likely didn't have the intelligence and/or social savvy to lead a double life.

Maybe he was just dressing like an Orthodox Jew out of habit and because it was normal for the area. Maybe he feels guilty about his actions now as doesn't feel that he "deserves" to assert his Jewish identity by requesting kosher food and non-standard clothing. Maybe he's gotten the clear message that the Orthodox Jewish community think he's a monster and want nothing to do with him. I don't think anyone really knows what's in his mind.

jewish philosopher said...

According to media reports, he did suffer a head injury at age nine.

http://www.metro.us/boston/national/article/917468--leiby-kletzky-murder-who-is-levi-aron

The basic description of him seems to a nice, quiet man with a bit below average intelligence. Despite atheist propaganda to the contrary, I see no reason to believe that atheists have to be smart any more than Catholics or Buddhists do. And living alone, I don't see any complicated tricks needed to be irreligious when he thought no one was watching. He may well have apostatized secretly following his last divorce.

The voices he hears sound like a classic example of psychotic depression.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/04/leiby-kletzky-levi-aron-court-brooklyn_n_917981.html 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001929/

Regarding why would he be a secret atheist, why would anyone? Excellent question. You have to ask them. I urge them to please just leave.

jewish philosopher said...

His first wife, fo whatever it's worth, insists he is completely sane.

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/brooklyn/monster_ex_wife_sociopath_knows_RSMWJu3vzhd2YjWSZQzuxO#ixzz1SH7NR7Qd

ksil said...

its obvious to me that raising children in such a restrictive atmosphere and brainwashing them from birth with orthodox rabbinic judaism turns anyone with a slight mental disorder into a homicidal maniac.

too bad you cant see that. if only he had the freedom to choose his own life, such rage would not be bubbling up inside him.

he probably just wanted to save this poor child from such a life....and didnt realize that murder is not the way to do that.

hopefully, there are more sane people out there to show these kids the light and save them from this sick cult

jewish philosopher said...

Well, we're really getting into the realm of speculation here, however my guess is like this.

The guy is not too smart, therefore making it hard for him to establish a stable family life. Plus, I've read his mother died six years ago. He was lonely and depressed.

Like a lot of depressed people, he turned to pornography and possibly prostitution for solace. Then, to suppress upsetting feelings of guilt, he secretly converted to atheism, which permits anything.

Unfortunately, he eventually found himself in an uncomfortable and complicated situation with this autistic little boy. So he killed the kid, figuring that would solve the problem. Being an atheist, obviously humans are no more important than any other animal or chemical and there's nothing wrong with homicide so long as you can avoid detection. Of course, he didn't know anything about all those surveillance cameras recording the abduction.

Which kind of makes you wonder, how many other heinous crimes are being committed daily by phonydoxers, who with their fake orthodoxy, win the trust of Jews, but are smart enough not to get caught?

JRKmommy said...

It's possible to be both mentally ill and to be able to know on a basic level that an action is wrong. He injected Leiby with an anti-psychotic drug, and the most likely explanation is that it had been prescribed for Aron's own psychotic symptoms.

It's a horrific yet very rare case, so we can't really call this a typical case of anything.

I wasn't implying that lack of religious belief was necessarily a sign of intelligence. I was suggesting that deliberately living a secret double life requires some motivation to do so, some planning and an ability to play a role and fool people. I just don't see it here.

He had an Orthodox upbringing, but given his mental issues I don't know how much sank in from his studies, or how deeply he really thought about religious philosophy at all. It's not like he left diaries full of musings on religion.

I don't think that this case is really about being either Orthodox or atheist. For now, it seems to be about a guy who likely had some sort of mental impairment who had some weird urge to take a child, possibly fantasied that the child could be a friend, and then snapped back to reality and committed the murder.

jewish philosopher said...

Psychotic depression is treated with anti-psychotic and anti-depressants together. But it is an entirely different, and much less severe, mental illness than schizophrenia.

Honestly, I have not heard any statement of beliefs made my this man ever, not before or after his arrest.

I know however that Aron is a basically sane man within a normal range of intelligence who on July 12, 2011 participated in prayers with Orthodox Jews, presumably wearing a hat or yarmulke.

http://vidyid.com/levi-aron-had-prayed-for-leiby-and-corrected-name.html

However less than 24 hours later he told police detectives that he doesn't keep kosher.

http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Levi-Aron-Leiby-Kletzky-Court-Appearance-Charges-Grand-Jury-126730558.html

The following day he appeared in court, sans hat or yarmulke which has since never reappeared.

When among Jews, he behaved like a Jew. Now, among Gentiles, he behaves like a Gentile.

It's hard to see how he doesn't fit the classic "orthoprax" (or I prefer "phonydox") profile.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/52858246/Ami-Magazine-April-6-2011-The-Impostors-Among-Us

JRKmommy said...

There's also so much that we can speculate about his obviously sick and disturbed thought patterns.

We'll see what comes out in the trial.

jewish philosopher said...

Apparently he's going for a not guilty by reason of insanity defense but I doubt he'll get an acquittal.

It will be interesting if some more details come up about his religious beliefs, although that doesn't seem like it will be too relevant at the trial. And, as far as interviews go, he doesn't seem like a generally talkative guy.

As things stand now, I personally would tend toward "stupid, but nihilistic, secret atheist posing as Orthodox Jew kills little Hasidic kid for basically no reason".

Alex said...

You have every right, as distasteful as it is, to ask, "Was he, however, a true believer or a secret atheist?" But you do not have a right to title your post "Baby Killer - and Secret Atheist", leaving out the question mark.

jewish philosopher said...

Based on what's come out now this week, I don't think it's really a question.

me said...

so you believe that Abuchazeira's murderer, should not be held accountable simply because he believed he was moshiach?

Alex said...

OK, I'll bite. What came out this week?

jewish philosopher said...

"so you believe that Abuchazeira's murderer, should not be held accountable simply because he believed he was "

He probably should be locked up for life in a psych ward. However, so far, very little has come out about this case, it's hard to say.

"OK, I'll bite. What came out this week?"

The McDonald's thing.

Alex said...

A Jew has to be an atheist in order to give up on keeping kosher?

jewish philosopher said...

I doubt he's a convert to Christianity.

Alex said...

Rephrase:
A Jew has to be an atheist or a convert to Christianity in order to give up on keeping kosher?

jewish philosopher said...

Well, Muslims don't eat mcdonalds, so I think I'm going with "atheist" here personally.

JRKmommy said...

How about just "hungry"?

jewish philosopher said...

Apparently they offered kosher.

Alex said...

"I think I'm going with "atheist" here personally."

You "think" enough to confidently claim it in your title, without a question mark. In your black and white world, if you're Jewish and you eat non-kosher food, you must be an atheist.

jewish philosopher said...

Are there former Orthodox Jews who believe in the Biblical God, don't believe in evolution and don't keep kosher? I suppose if they become Christians, however I doubt that in this case.

I know however that Aron is a basically sane man within a normal range of intelligence who on July 12, 2011 participated in prayers with Orthodox Jews, presumably wearing a hat or yarmulke.

http://vidyid.com/levi-aron-had-prayed-for-leiby-and-corrected-name.html

However less than 24 hours later he told police detectives that he doesn't keep kosher.

http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Levi-Aron-Leiby-Kletzky-Court-Appearance-Charges-Grand-Jury-126730558.html

The following day he appeared in court, sans hat or yarmulke which has since never reappeared.

I don't quite see how it could be much more obvious.

Alex said...

"The following day he appeared in court, sans hat or yarmulke which has since never reappeared. I don't quite see how it could be much more obvious."

I and someone else above gave an alternate possibility.

"I know however that Aron is a basically sane man"

You know this. Hmmm.

"Are there former Orthodox Jews who believe in the Biblical God, don't believe in evolution and don't keep kosher?"

Can't you, for once, ask the RIGHT question?! Ask it this way:

"Are there former Orthodox Jews who still believe in God and don't keep kosher? The parts about "Biblical" and believing in evolution are red herrings.

Ask the question as I reworded it, to yourself, and come up with an answer.

jewish philosopher said...

Aron is the the first "orthoprax" murderer to prey on our community. That we know of. And unfortunately, he may well not be the last.

Alex said...

Tell us, what percentage of orthoprax Jews are atheists?

jewish philosopher said...

100

The day Aron was arrested I wrote:

Incidentally regarding the just arrested orthodox murderer in Brooklyn, I would be very curious to know if he is requesting kosher food in jail. If not, then I think we can assume that his "orthodoxy" was a sham to begin with. 

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2011/07/what-i-fight-against.html?showComment=1310610246070#c5616829845720620984

Alex said...

Have you even HEARD of a Jew who believes in God, but rejects the belief that He gave the Torah?

jewish philosopher said...

What kind of "god" do they believe in?

And does anyone have a blog like that. "I am outwardly an orthodox Jew, I believe in a personal God who hears me and rewards and punishes me, but I think some ancient Jews just made the Torah up."

Alex said...

Stop sticking in red herrings! (The part about a God who rewards and punishes is a red herring. Many Jews, regardless of outward appearance, believe in God but never consider reward and punishment. And you know that!) So, I ask once again, "Have you even HEARD of a Jew who believes in God, but rejects the belief that He gave the Torah?"

jewish philosopher said...

They're all atheists.

Alex said...

You're saying that a Jew with a screwed up notion of one God, but who still believes in that God, is an atheist.

OK, got it.

jewish philosopher said...

Atheists also believe in a god - evolution.

Alex said...

That's irrelevant. The question is: can a believer in God also believe in evolution? Wait. Let me rephrase that. ARE there many people who say they believe in God, but they also say they believe in evolution?
If the answer is yes (and you know darn well it is) are they simply sloppy thinkers, or are they lying about their belief in God?
If you say they are sloppy thinkers, then you are admitting that you've completely wrong about your claim that all Orthoprax Jews are atheists.

jewish philosopher said...

Can you believe in Thor and Jesus? Why not. It's called syncretism.

Alex said...

You're proving my point. Thank you.
You're saying that a Jew can have a confused notion of God, yet still believe in God. (If you don't agree with this, you're meshugge.)

So, lets just say that Levi Aaron, as warped as he was, believed in God, but just had a screwed up idea of Who God is.

After all, you know that that's a possibility.

And stop calling him an atheist until you know for sure.

jewish philosopher said...

I would appear that practically all those people who act like an orthodox Jew but reject some or all of the beliefs of orthodox Judaism, do not believe in a personal, Biblical God and do believe that evolution created us. Therefore, according to my definition of atheist

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/05/atheism-in-nutshell.html

the "orthoprax" are all atheists.

Pretty much the only exception would be a conservative Christian posing as an orthodox Jew, which I'm not sure exists. 

(I know that atheists and the dictionary define atheism as "no gods" however no atheist has yet clearly explained what a "god" is, therefore I think this is a meaningless definition. Is a god anything more powerful than humans, anything possessing free will, anything people call "god"? No one seems to know.)

Alex said...

"It would appear that practically all..."

Well, there goes your "100%" figure.

"Therefore, according to my definition of atheist"

As long as you admit it's you OWN definition..

jewish philosopher said...

I'm not really following your great concern with the word "atheist".

According to the Talmud there is zero difference between someone who denies the divine origin of one universally accepted Talmudic law (let's say he puts the phylacteries on his forehead rather than the top of his head) or someone who baptizes and joins the Catholic church or someone who joins the Communist Party and becomes an atheist.

Regardless, he must be hated. We pray constantly for his complete destruction. When he dies, his relatives celebrate his death (Yoreh De'ah , 345, 5) . He may not read from the Torah in the synagogue or lead communal prayers. If he pours wine, a Jew may not drink it . 

As far as the afterlife is concerned, the Talmud (Rosh haShanah 17a) makes his fate clear: He will be punished in hell forever. The Talmud explains that the fire of hell is sixty times stronger than ordinary fire (Berakoth 57b). This is referred to in Isaiah 66:24 “And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have rebelled against Me; for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.” After being totally ostracized by the Jewish community in this world, he will after death face eternal suffering.

It makes no difference whatsoever if he denies one talmudic law or denies everything in the Torah.