Dilemma of September 11th by Rabbi Hershel Solnica zt’l


Our patriotic and sincere leadership plead with us saying, “let’s get back to normal,” in light of the tragedy on September 11th.  They urge us to resume our daily lives, and to go back to the way it was. They also urge us to memorialize the victims who perished, and to aid the wounded and their families.

Harav Matisyahu Solomon Shlita, Mashgiach Ruchni of the famous Lakewood Yeshiva, gave me, and hundreds of listeners a more thoughtful and sobering approach to this tragedy.

One finds in the Torah, different forms of Hashem’s name.  Hashem is referred to in thirteen ways (י"ג מידות).  However, there is another word that is often use to describe הקב"ה. That word is צור (The Rock), as in צור ישראל, הצור תמים בפעלו, צור חיינו, ה' צורי וגאלי (the Rock of Israel, the Rock’s deed’s are wholesome, the Rock of our lives, Hashem is my Rock and my savior).

Rav Solomon pointed out that the 13 attributes of Hashem only describe the essence of Hashem as he relates to, and is in contact with us.  He may be merciful or judgmental or patient or charitable, etc. However, the word ins, Rock, is the lowest form of Hashem’s creation, which emphasizes and underscores a concept of confidence in Hashem. It is imperative that we realize that after all our effort, strengths, donations, military prowess, etc., we can only succeed by the grace of Hashem and by His will.  This is the true definition of יראת שמים; awe of heaven.  The sooner we realize that Hashem is the Rock of our salvation, our successes, and our failures, the better off we will be.

In Tehillim it says ירושלים הרים סביב לה, “Yerushalayim is surrounded by mountains” (Psalms).  The fact that Yerushalayim is surrounded by Rocks calls out to us that we must realize איו לנו מושיע כי אם ה' that there is no other helper but Hashem.  This confidence is fundamental, before we can even try our feeble but erstwhile attempts.

Ray Matisyahu’s call is not “let’s get back to normal,” but rather “let’s go forward, to change our ways.”  תשובה, repentance, is not just a word to be used in the spiritual sense.  It is a commitment to change our ways we act in business, in school, with our friends, and to our community. The חורבן בית המקדש, the destruction of the Temples, came upon us not because we were not religious enough, but because we did not act properly towards every human that Hashem created.

It is time for Teshuva, Tefillah and Tzedaka.  Then maybe the catastrophes of 9/11 and the 17-month Intifada in Israel will go away.

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