To Our Brothers in Distress: In the Wake of the Terror Attacks against America
To our brothers and sisters in the United States, and to their relatives in Israel and elsewhere, may God bless you from Zion:
During this most difficult and tragic hour, we are all a single family, Jews and gentiles alike - all the nations of the world. All nations, that is, with the exception of those who removed themselves from the community of mankind and destroyed the image of God with which they were created. They destroyed it to the point of non-recognition, and became like beasts of prey.
My heart - and all of our hearts - is with the many victims, Jews and non-Jews; my heart, and all of our hearts, goes out to the families who, in a matter of seconds, lost their loved ones.
"O Lord God of retribution, O God of retribution - appear!" (Psalms 94:1). Avenge the blood of Your creatures who were murdered so cruelly.
Dear brothers and sisters, we know that the villains who attacked New York and Washington, killing thousands of people whom they considered infidels, intended also to undermine Western culture, which is based on principles originating in the Torah and in the words of the prophets. We are confident that the United States will very soon recover from the devastating blow it suffered and show wisdom, stamina and strength in its war against these despicable forces.
I would like to emphasize an additional point. From the time of our forefather Abraham, the Nation of Israel has been dedicated to sanctifying God's Name in the world. As members of this nation, we cannot ignore the appalling "chillul Hashem," the desecration of God's Name that occurred before the entire world. These evil people murdered in the name of our God, the Lord of the universe; they killed thousands in their fanatical and cruel belief that they were carrying out God's will. As we rend our garments as a sign of bereavement for the victims, we must tear them as well for the terrible chillul Hashem that has occurred. We also plead with the Almighty: Look and see what these wicked people have done to us and what they have done to Your great and sacred Name! "You, our God - cast them down to the nethermost pit, for they are murderous, treacherous men," as King David writes in his Psalms (55:24).
The Talmud (Shabbat 77b) describes five fears that exist in the world, including the elephant's fear of the mosquito. A mosquito can cause the elephant pain, but it can never overcome or even debilitate it. The People of Israel sense deep feelings of friendship towards the United States for all it has done for the Jews and the State of Israel. We are confident that, please God, America will claim its leadership role, with even greater vigor, as a world power.
In the Days of Awe soon to be upon us, we pray, "Instill Your fear within all Your beings, and Your Awe within all that You created; and all beings will fear You, and all creatures will bow before You." I believe that the free Western world must, during this time, do some soulsearching as well. It must examine itself to see whether it had an exaggerated sense of self-confidence as a result of its technological strength and scientific achievements. Western society sometimes projected a sense that we can manage without divine assistance. It now turns out that the world, even in our time, needs God's grace.
We are reminded of Isaiah's prophecy (2:12-17):
"For the day of the Lord of Hosts shall be upon all that is proud and arrogant, against all that is lofty - that it shall be brought low:
Against all the cedars of Lebanon, tall and stately, and all the oaks of Bashan; against all the high mountains and all the lofty hills; against every soaring tower and every mighty wall; against all the ships of Tarshish and all the gallant barks.
Then the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down
And the pride of men shall be made low;
And the Lord alone shall be exalted on that day."
Since time immemorial we pray on Rosh Ha-shana on behalf of the Jewish People and on behalf of all nations: "All inhabitants of the world pass before Him like sheep."
This year, as we stand in prayer on the Days of Awe, we hope to intensify our prayers for peace upon all of us.
We will pray for our well-being here, in the Holy Land, where over the course of the past year we have found ourselves engaged in a difficult struggle.
We will pray for the well-being of our Jewish brethren, wherever they are.
We will pray for the well-being of the entire world.
We will pray for the well-being of the many wounded, that the Almighty shall grant them a complete recovery from the heavens.
May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year,
To read in the original hebrew, click here.
To continue reading Rav Lichtenstein's words, click here.