Torah For Today: Remembering 9/11
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Torah For Today: Remembering 9/11

Rabbi Ariel Abel marks the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks

Rabbi Ariel Abel

Rabbi Ariel Abel is based in Liverpool

United Flight 175 crashes into the south tower (L) of the World Trade
Center in New York as the north tower burns after being hit by American
Flight 11 a short time earlier, in this file photo from September 11,
2001. This year's anniversary of the September 11 attacks in New York
and Washington will echo the first one, with silence for the moments
the planes struck and when the buildings fell, and the reading of 2,792
victims' names. REUTERS/Sean Adair-Files

HB/
United Flight 175 crashes into the south tower (L) of the World Trade Center in New York as the north tower burns after being hit by American Flight 11 a short time earlier, in this file photo from September 11, 2001. This year's anniversary of the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington will echo the first one, with silence for the moments the planes struck and when the buildings fell, and the reading of 2,792 victims' names. REUTERS/Sean Adair-Files HB/

Twenty years have passed since 11 September 2001, also known as 9/11, when Islamist group al-Qaeda carried out a series of co-ordinated terrorist attacks on America soil – including flying two planes into the Twin Towers – killing almost 3,000 people. The sense of loss since that day has not abated. So, what does the Torah say about such tragedy? 

Noah’s flood brought about the first Ground Zero in recorded history. God swore by a marvel of nature that it should never reoccur: the rainbow, arched heavenward in a sign of reconciliation with the surviving remnant of humankind. 

The Flood of Enosh wiped out one-third of the human population in the known world. Traditionally identified as the flooding of the great valley lying between the northern shelf of the African continent and the southern reaches of Europe, the waters that broke through at the Strait of Gibraltar formed the Mediterranean Sea. 

To this day, Jews mark this by not blessing that sea with the usual blessing for the marvels of Creation, but by acknowledging the event that made the Great Sea the border of the future promised land. 

Thousands must have died when Krakatoa erupted. According to the revered Rabbi Dr Irving Jacobs of blessed memory, it was the great eruption that created the cloud by day and the fire by night that led the Israelites through the desert for nearly four decades. 

At the Sea of Reeds, the waters parted and the Israelites were able to cross on dry land, but the Egyptian army was engulfed. Even the loss of life of Israel’s enemies was mourned in heaven. Had He not fashioned them all? 

All of the above are natural disasters with dramatic effect. When human beings use terror to strike blows to the hardworking, unsuspecting parents, making their children orphans and their relatives bereft, the only response is to unify more against terror and the politics of hate. 

May the time that has passed prove to be one in which better technology has evolved for greater security and allow the world to conduct its affairs in peace. 

  •   Rabbi Ariel Abel is based in Liverpool 

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