Blood, Fire, and Pillars of Smoke!

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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