By Rabbi ariel abel
Earlier this year a secondary school teacher, Ann Maguire, with four decades of an exemplary teaching career, was brutally murdered in front of her class in a Catholic school in Leeds.
The murderer, Will Cornick, a quietly spoken 15-year-old with no previous criminal record, has shown no remorse whatsoever for his crime. The first murder was committed by Cain. Before he killed his brother, Abel, he took him into the fields. The speech they had is not recorded in the Torah. In the Samaritan Israelite Torah, he simply said: “Let’s go out into the fields.”
The Midrash claims they had an argument, about a woman who was without a partner, and had been created before Adam and rejected by her. Young people nowadays live in a technological era where human communication is the poor relative. Many young people either communicate poorly or not at all, driven instead by the adrenaline of the latest online and video games. ‘Talking’ does not mean communicating vocally anymore; it is reduced to many forms of social media and texting.
Body language and emotional expressions have become less a response to human interaction, more the result of internal, unshared thoughts. The result is a greater risk of introverted personality. No one knew what Will was brewing for the months leading up to the murder. It is imperative for schools and communities to recognise the critical importance for young people to be able to express themselves through controlled aggression via competitive sports and team games, to avoid the dangers of suppression become a fatal drive.
The particular severity of this crime is the open attack, in the view of his classmates of his teacher, a well-known mentor. Rabbinic practice sets the teacher on a higher level than one’s own parent in terms of social value; if one’s teacher and one’s parent was in custody, efforts to bail the teacher take precedence over the parent.
Thus, this attack was not only personal, but an attack on the community. The judge in this case lifted Cornick’s anonymity. This is an unusual step, as the offender was underage. The Torah states on several occasions, that all the people should hear and not commit the offence brazenly again.
If this was the judge’s intention, more people will hear of this and hopefully address the severe situation by talking about it at work, in the community and in the home.