9-11 and The Jewish People
Rabbi Reuven Mann
It is difficult to believe that a decade has passed since the numbers 9 and 11 became indelibly etched in the annals of infamy. We cannot come to grips with the sadistic character of the horror we witnessed with our own eyes. What evil movement would consign thousands of innocents who had no connection to its “grievance” to a sudden and horrible death?
We generally underestimate the full extent of human sadism. We naively imagine that all people, especially those, who profess to act in the name of G-d, have some element of “compassion.” The primary cause of the horrible explosions was the religious zeal of the terrorists. On the surface, this is impossible to comprehend. Most people associate religion with peace, restraint and compassion. Moslem theologians continuously insist that the term Islam means submission to the will of their deity. How can people who hold that faith act with such complete cruelty and contempt for human life and the most cherished institutions of advanced civilization? In my opinion, we are very naïve about the real nature of “religion.”
Throughout history people have had intense “religious experiences.” The danger of confusing one’s personal “vision” with the will of the Creator is very great. Most of the wars of history were fought by competing religions seeking to impose their theological falsehoods. Man made religion can be very dangerous. You can tell that a religion is a human invention by the behavior of its adherents. Their psychological insecurity about the truth of their system compels them to act ruthlessly against non-believers. Skeptics are a threat who must be forcefully converted or eliminated.
The freedom to inquire and live by reason is the greatest danger to religion because if the real origin of the doctrines were discovered, the claim of divinity would be seriously compromised. Make no mistake about it; the 9/11 criminals were not men of true religion. They were cruel people in pursuit of personal glory in an imaginary paradise whose souls were purged of any element of pity for human beings. Let us recognize the fact that false religion can lead to the worst horrors. Much crime has been committed by those who arrogantly claim to speak in G-d’s name. 9/11 ranks with the most heinous abuses of religion in history! There is certainly much evil in the world. None is worse than that which rationalizes itself in the form of misbegotten “theologies.”
Judaism stands apart from the religions of man. It is based on submission to the will of G-d as He has revealed it to us, not as we would like it to be. In Judaism, we strive to approach G-d through recognition and appreciation of His Infinite Wisdom, which is revealed in the world of nature, and in the ideas of His Torah. This produces a certain humility and a sense of compassion for all of His creatures. Judaism, unlike other religions, does not proselytize. We do not seek to impose our views on others. Yet, the question arises: If we regard the Torah as G-d’s instruction to mankind, do we not have the obligation to disseminate this knowledge? I believe that there is no greater compassion than to educate people in the proper “way of life.” However, we cannot assume the role of missionaries. Our national goal is expressed in the words, “And I shall be sanctified in t he midst of the children of Israel.” Our wisdom, behavior, kindness and commitment to justice in all situations, in our personal and national dealings serve to sanctify the name of G-d and draw mankind closer to His service.
Some have said that 9/11 gave religion a bad name. I say, it gave false religion a very bad name. We must, in every area, use of our G-d given intelligence to differentiate between the true and the false, between darkness and light. Our task is to reflect the wisdom and beauty of our religion of truth. Let us at this time renew our appreciation of our eternal Torah heritage and rededicate ourselves to our national mission of Kiddush Hashem, the sanctification of G-d’s name.