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The Madness

May 9, 2009 | by Rabbi Noah Weinberg

In the wake of 9-11, we search for understanding amidst the senseless horror.

The entire civilized world stands in shock at the terrible tragedy that has struck American targets.

We mourn for those lost and pray for the recovery of the injured.

The enormity is staggering. The pain and grief is indescribable. So many lives, so many families shattered forever. To put this into perspective, terrorists in America killed 10 times more civilians – in one day – than have been killed by all the terrorism in Israel over the past 30 years. How fragile is our existence. How quickly our lives can turn to turmoil.

We search for understanding amidst this senseless horror.

Fighting for a Cause

Our precious world is threatened by twisted minds who think the way to heaven is to murder innocent civilians.

We have only one chance to live a normal life. We have to look this evil in the eye and defeat it. Not passively and sluggishly. But with the same degree of passion, and the same level of commitment, that the evil is being waged against us.

Every human being has a personal responsibility to fight this epidemic.

Concretize your feelings about the World Trade Center tragedy. Say out loud:

What did I learn from this?

What I am going to do about it?

And if I'm not going to do anything about it, why not?

Pledge yourself to fighting for good, for justice, for truth. Look around and see the problems facing us today. Ultimately, we are each committed to a cause. Whether it's world peace, political reform, or fighting racism – everyone is dedicated to something.

In some sick, misguided way, even the terrorists are fighting for their cause.

Choose your cause. Carefully. Figure out what you are willing to die for. And when you indeed live for that cause, you will have unparalleled power and purpose.

Once you have answers, make a plan to implement positive change into your daily life. Start slowly, taking one small step at a time, so not to be overwhelmed. Keep your eye on the goal and gauge your progress every day.

Life on Track

On Rosh Hashana, two books are opened in the heavenly court: the Book of Life and the Book of Death. Every moment of existence we are choosing one or the other: awareness or numbness. Clarity or doubt. Reality or illusion.

Each moment can be lived to the fullest – or wasted into nothingness.

Imagine what you could accomplish if you were clearly focused on the goal. You're not even scratching the surface.

My friends, we have the power. Don't underestimate yourself. Stop looking at who you are. Instead look at who you can be. You can solve humanity's problems, instead of just suffering with them. You can build the entire world.

The time to begin is now. Rosh Hashana is upon us, the day of judgment, when we're asked to justify our own existence. To articulate why we should be granted another year of life.

The prophet says: Kiru livav'chem, v'al big'deichem – "Tear your hearts, not your clothes" (Yoel 2:13). Don't wait for another catastrophe. When you see the first indication, pay attention. If you're sick in bed, imagine being carried to your funeral. Don't wait until the funeral to regret everything you "could have done."

We've had wake-up calls before. In the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, a 50-foot difference would have produced disastrous results. Then bombs were discovered that would have blown up the Lincoln Tunnel. Then armed gunmen were ready to slaughter hundreds in Times Square.

We all have a clock ticking and don't know how long it's going to run. How many years do you figure you have left? Life is not open-ended. Someday you will have only one year left. And someday you will have only one day left. Plan for it now. This week, the shofar is blowing. The World Trade Center is our wake-up call.

We grieve for all the families who have lost loved ones, pray for the safety of all those involved, and yearn for the day when, in the words of Isaiah, nation shall not lift up sword against nation, nor shall man learn war anymore.

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