As we read these words we are suddenly reminded of that frightful black pillar
of smoke and huge ball of fire that rose from the Twin Towers and the sight of the
blood of those that jumped out of the building in hope that a miracle would take
place and their lives would be spared. Our sense of safety and security suddenly
evaporated into thin air. Our priorities in life quickly changed as the enormity of the
great disaster slowly made themselves felt. “Our perception of the world and of life
took on a dramatic shift.
It all happened just a few days before Rosh Hashana, a day that heralds in the
Jewish New Year. As we sat in shul and recited the “U’nesane Tokef,” tears streamed
down our faces as we remembered the frightful fate of those caught inside the horrific
inferno who unfortunately never made it out.
The deep hatred that caused such enormous devastation and destruction
seemed beyond belief. For years we had looked on in silence as terror ran rampant
throughout Israel, thinking it could never happen here. It was then that the danger
of world terrorism hit home and we finally realized that terrorism isn’t something
that only exists thousands of miles away. The mightiest world power had now come
under siege. We’ve learned that terrorism knows no bounds nor borders and the
flames of hatred between man and his brother burns with destructive fury. The belief
in G-d that teaches loving-kindness for all of humanity was perversely used to ignite
the fires of fanatic hatred and to destroy and kill with horrid and ghastly brutality.
Americans reacted with a feeling of love and compassion. Rescue workers
responded by showing their special concern for human life no matter what their race,
color or religion. One felt the unity of spirit all across America. The nation suddenly
realized that the fight against terrorism is not only an Israeli problem but also a global
problem. It isn’t enough to stop the terrorists but also the nations that harbor them.
Yet an event changes everything only if it actually alters the way we see ourselves
and brings about positive improvements in our own lifestyle and the way we act
toward both G-d and our fellow man. Certainly in these trying and turbulent times,
when storm clouds loom above the horizon, and we are so dependent on Heavenly
mercy, each one of us must begin by doing his utmost to sanctify G-d’s Name with
his every deed and action. Evil must be replaced with kindness and compassion.
Greeting others with a friendly smile, showing our appreciation to all those that help
maintain the quality of life, be it the bus driver, the mailman, the sanitation man, the
policeman or the fireman, the rebbi and teacher – and surely our parents.
There are countless opportunities each day for us to show the world that a Torah
Jew is easily recognized by his exemplary behavior and demeanor, and by his high
standards of morals and ethics. Striving to go beyond the call of duty in all we do
and creating a Kiddush Shem Shomayim with our every simple action should be
our constant goal. Good middos must become second nature and proper derech
eretz must manifest itself in our daily conduct. Being careful in the way we walk, and
the way we talk, the way we drive, and the places we go; the way we conduct our
simchas and share in each other’s joys. By the way we conduct our worldly affairs
and our businesses; the way we treat our boss and our workers, our associates and
our clients; conducting our business with honesty and integrity, with humility and full
faith that G-d sees and knows all.
We must think of ways to help those who are lonely or homebound or those who
have lost a loved one. We must stretch out a lending hand to those who have lost
their source of income, or who need a word of encouragement to brighten up their
day. Let’s rebuild those two mighty towers that once reached up into the sky with
good deeds and actions that will shine around the globe and last for an eternity!
We must extinguish the flames of blind hatred that caused the destruction of the
Second Bais Ha’mikdosh and replace them with blind love. Certainly, in these hard
and difficult financial times, we must increase our contributions to charity, as it says
“tzedakah tatzil mi’maves.” Surely, with proper teshuvah, tefilla and tzedakah we will
merit Heavenly mercy and bring about the redemption.
The Gemara tells us that the only way to protect ourselves from the pain and
suffering that will precede the arrival of the redemption (the chevlei Moshiach) is
through Torah study and good deeds. What greater memorial can we erect for the
memories of those fallen, than one standing on the pillars of “Torah, Avodah and
Gemilas Chasodim.” It may take just one righteous deed to weigh down the heavenly
scale on the side of mercy and kindness and bring the Moshiach speedily in our