September 23, 2001
Our hearts, condolences and prayers go out to all
the families affected by this calamity, and to all New Yorkers,
Americans and the entire human race against whom this atrocity
Due to the overwhelming response to Rabbi Jacobson's previous
article (see Today the World Trembles), below is a new piece
written by Rabbi Jacobson with Yom Kippur's message of hope
to the world that has been shaken September 11th.
We hope that you can use these soothing thoughts both personally
and to share with your families, friends and communities, especially
as we enter trembling but hopeful into Yom Kippur. Because of
the importance of the message, we encourage you to share this
article with everyone.
We want you to know that we here at The Meaningful Life Center
are working overtime to helping provide solace and clarity in
these trying times. As people everywhere are undergoing a new
soul search for meaning in life, we are redoubling our dedication
to our mission to offering insight and direction as how we can
gain control over our lives with all the uncertainty brewing
If you or anyone you know has any specific needs or questions,
please call on us. We are committed to do everything we can
to serve you.
We need to nourish the grass roots awakening that has consumed
this nation and its gravitation to faith and G-d and transform
it into a permanent spiritual transformation. Our calling today
is to demonstrate leadership and light up the way in which to
forge ahead amidst this tragedy, and these new, challenging
As Rabbi Jacobson concludes, let us all join together and channel
our powerful emotions into positive action. In this Hakhel
year let us initiate gatherings wherever possible -- to study
and pray together, share kind words, give charity. Let us rebuild
and reinforce the three immortal pillars upon which our world
both personal and global stands: Torah, Prayer
May you be blessed and sealed in the Book of Life. May we open
ourselves to be
true channels of G-d's will, which will certainly empower us
to win this battle of good over evil and bring permanent peace
to the world.
Kippur - The Birth of Hope
By Simon Jacobson
The King of Poros (Persia) will bring destruction
to the entire world, and all the nations will be outraged and
and Jews will be outraged and confused, and they
will say: where shall we come and go, where shall we come and
go? G-d will answer them: My children, do not be afraid. Everything
I have done, I have done for you. Why are you afraid? Do not
fear, the time of your Redemption has arrived
Yalkut, Isaiah remez 499)
Never have I seen such vulnerability on peoples
faces. From my home in New York City to spending Rosh Hashana
in Fort Lauderdale, from a lecture in Boca Raton to spending
this past Shabbat in the Upper West Side of Manhattan
uncertainty and fear covers life like a thick haze.
We have been rocked at the very core, and people
are gravitating to G-d and to each other. We are looking for
comfort, for words, for any thing that may give us some equilibrium
and return us to our bearings.
I closed my eyes on Rosh Hashana and allowed the
sound the secret sound of the Shofar to flow through
me. Its sound made me feel secure, it gave me something firm
to rest on. Its haunting cry resonated like a foghorn allowing
ships to navigate in the lonely darkness of night.
As the world trembles in the aftermath of our
national tragedy, Jews worldwide gather in these Days of Awe
for prayer and spiritual introspection. The destiny of nations
is determined in this powerful time of the year. If we allow
them, these days can serve as unwavering bearings in these times
of uncertainty, giving us the ability to move forward.
What message does Yom Kippur offer us in our current
The answer lies in understanding the root of Yom
Kippur. Heres the story:
40 days after Moses received the two tablets inscribed
with the Ten Commandments Moses descends from Mount Sinai only
to see that the people have transgressed and built a Golden
Calf. Moses breaks the two tablets. He then re-ascends Mt. Sinai
to plead with G-d to forgive the people. For eighty day Moses
begs and beseeches G-d to forgive, to open the doors of hope
after loss. Finally, on the eightieth day G-d relents. That
day becomes Yom Kippur: the holiest day of the year the
day that gives us the power to rebuild after destruction.
How was Moses sure that he would succeed? Because
he knew the secret of G-d: that there is always
an opening; that G-d is not bound by His own existential rules
of cause and effect, and we have the ability to transcend the
forward flow of time itself and grow through a broken past.
On Yom Kippur, Moses unleashed the power of teshuvah and
introduced a new force into our mortal existence, revealing
that nothing can destroy the human spirit. That when we persist
and insist we can break down every door, and achieve anything
we want. That we can and will bring redemption to the world
when good will conquer evil.
And this power of rebirth is even greater than
the initial birth. It took Moses 40 days to receive the Law
on Mount Sinai, but 80 to convince G-d to forgive us. It takes
much more effort to rebuild after being broken than to build
in the first place. But when we finally prevail, it creates
a new structure that can never be broken again.
Moses returned on Yom Kippur with a new, second
set of tablets, that in many ways are greater than the first.
The second tablets come from the depths of pain and demonstrate
hope after loss and the good that is greater than the evil.
These tablets therefore have the power of eternity being that
they can endure and last even through destruction, reminding
us that we grow much greater through our pain.
Is there a more relevant message than this today?
The building and worship of a false god of gold
(the Golden Calf) was a replay of the sin of eating from the
Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. When we dedicate our lives
to G-d, then even our material lives are tools to access and
express the Divine. However when we create a god in our own
image, and we worship ourselves and our man-made gods, we expel
G-d from our lives and in its place selfishness and evil emerge.
As a result of this selfish evil being reintroduced into the
world, Moses shattered the two tablets.
The question then arises: Can we repair them?
Can we rebuild after we have been destroyed? And most importantly,
how can we rebuild? How do we find the fortitude and
power to forge ahead, to fight our enemies and win, to rebuild
a better world?
Yom Kippur gives us the unequivocal answer that,
yes, we can repair and rebuild. And yes, we can grow and become
even greater. And Yom Kippur also tells us how we can achieve
all of this. By connecting to G-d, to Immortality.
Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year because
it is the birthday of the single most important ingredient in
life: HOPE. That there is healing after loss, that there is
hope after destruction. That even after great loss we can rebuild.
And rebuild in ways that are greater and stronger than ever
This is the ultimate message that we have to share
with the world: As we now face a revealed evil that has struck
humanity, as we enter our final battle between good and evil
a battle that began with the Tree of Knowledge and extended
through the worship of the Golden Calf, and now again tragically
resurfaced in this atrocity we carry the message of Yom
Kippur: good can and will prevail.
Yom Kippur and its second set of tablets
gives us the greatest gift: the absolute confidence and
faith that we can overcome any challenge.
As we stand stripped of our security blankets
and seeing ourselves naked as we may have never seen ourselves
before, we must reach into our deepest resource that always
remains burning within: Our faith in G-d, our faith in life,
Yes, it is quite distressing and disorienting
to have our comfort zones taken from us, even more disturbing
may be the unknown of what lies within us, when all else is
taken from us. Yom Kippur tells us that what lies within is
grand, magnificent and extraordinary. It is the REAL YOU. The
Divine Image in which you were created, that has the power of
What better time to have Yom Kippur with us
the birth of hope.
Let us read, reread and embrace the words of this
past weeks Torah portion (of Shabbat Shuva):
Be strong and brave. Do not be afraid or feel
insecure before them [your enemies], because G-d is the One
who is going with you, and He will not fail you or forsake you
How amazing that these words without any
interpretation speak directly to our situation today,
as if they were just written! It seems that when our veneer
is stripped away, our emerging truth is Biblical
WHAT CAN WE DO?
One thing that has changed on September 11th:
We are no longer complacent or apathetic. Our tragedy has stirred
us and awakened an array of feelings and emotions: Grief. Sadness.
Fear. Anger. Vengeance. Uncertainty. Insecurity. Depression.
And many other sensations.
If we do nothing with these feelings they implode
within us. They tie us up and paralyze us. What then should
we do with these powerful feelings?
Yes, its important to express ourselves,
to release and free ourselves of negative feelings. Yet, that
is at best damage control. There must be something more we can
do with these strong emotions.
Yom Kippur answers this question for us: After
the people had inexcusably transgressed and after the tablets
were irreversibly broken, Moses unperturbed passionately fought
for hope after loss. He adamantly insisted that goodness will
triumph. Moses was angry, shocked and profoundly disturbed to
see his people worshiping an idol, blatantly transgressing the
second commandment merely 40 days after hearing it directly
from God. Yet, he took all his feelings, channeled them and
charged up that mountain confronting G-d for 80 days to forgive,
to open a door, to allow for rebirth.
We must do the same: we must channel our potent
reactions into a force for good. Especially after we have witnessed
the vehement passion of madmen, our commitment to goodness and
love has to be with at least as much passion as the horror waged
Nothing less than a passionate, spiritual revolution
of good will justify this terror...
Just as we have been stunned to see how the world
that we know can change so dramatically in a matter of minutes,
we must recognize that we can equally introduce a new paradigm
for life one in which selflessness prevails over selfishness,
love over hate, spirit over matter, good over evil.
And we will need to hold onto this revolution:
As time passes and our complacency slowly returns, we must never
let go of the window of opportunity that has now opened. We
must always remember our absolute commitment to fight for good
and against evil. We must always maintain the resolve and confidence
that Moses infused us with on Yom Kippur: Good is more powerful
than evil. Good will prevail. We can do it. Nothing stands in
our way except
A PRACTICAL SUGGESTION
Following the Torahs statement (cited above)
Be strong and brave. Do not be afraid or feel insecure
G-d is the One who is going with you, and He will not fail you
or forsake you, comes the mitzvah (commandment) of Hakhel:
At the end of each seven years, on the festival
gather together the people, the men, women, children
that they hear and learn it [Torah], and they will thus be in
awe of G-d, carefully keeping all of the words of Torah. And
your children who do not know will listen and learn to be in
awe of G-d as long as you live
This new year, which began on Rosh Hashanah,
is a Hakhel year (the end of the seven year period). In previous
Hakhel years, the Lubavitcher Rebbe called on us to maintain
this beautiful tradition by initiating gatherings (hakhels)
throughout the year in our homes, offices and communities,
gathering together in unity to study and to connect with G-d
and our purpose in life.
As we enter now into the year of Hakhel, and as
Sukkot approaches, what better way to channel our strong responses
to the assault on our humanity than gathering together in small
or large groups to talk, to sing, to pray to join in
one unifying voice, each of us with our own unique musical note,
and connect with our higher Divine calling our mission
of spreading goodness and kindness.
It doesnt take much. Gather a few friends
any evening in your home or office, share spiritual thoughts,
study G-ds word, pray and give charity. Commit together
to reinforcing the three pillars which hold up the world
Torah, prayer and charity.
Do the same with family, and include your children.
Lets make this a habit, and institute it in a timely fashion,
once a week or so. Each group member can alternate as host.
Invite in new friends or strangers.
For every force of evil there is an equal and
even greater force of good. When we fear evil conspiracies
awful people gathering to perpetrate terrible acts we
must congregate together with even more passion to recommit
to our battle for justice and virtue.
If all of us begin congregating and encouraging
others to do the same, we can create a massive ripple effect
of unity and goodwill, uniting people everywhere in one powerful
wave of positive and G-dly energy. And this is what we can do
to bring the Redemption to our wounded world.
How fascinating it is that following this tragedy
people everywhere, of all ages and backgrounds, naturally gravitated
toward faith and G-d. This was not planned or initiated by religious
leaders. It is a grass roots awakening, that actually surpasses
in power anything our religious establishments have to offer
We need to nourish the awakening that has consumed
this nation and its gravitation to faith and G-d, and direct
it into a spiritual revolution of permanent transformation.
The Torah tells us that G-d has not found
a vessel that can contain blessing except for Shalom (peace).
As Yom Kippur approaches, let us begin by participating and
inviting others to participate in upcoming Yom Kippur services.
Throughout the upcoming year let us resolve now to join together
in unified hakhels that create an unprecedented
amount of light, more powerful than any opposing force, a unity
that manifests the greatest blessing of all: Shalom, peace and
wholesomeness for all people peace in Israel, peace in
America and peace in the entire world.
When we see the destruction brought by that part
of the world, we must know, as the Midrash tells us, that we
should not fear, the time of your redemption has arrived
(Yalkut Shemoni, Isaiah remez 499. See Zohar II 32a). We are
on the verge of a spiritual revolution not an apocalypse
or Armageddon a transformation from within, a major shift
in our perception, that instead of seeing materialism as an
end in itself we will see it as a means to G-dliness.
In these days the fate of nations is determined,
as we said in the Rosh Hashana prayers. May G-d bless us with
the strength to be true channels of G-d's will and then we will
certainly win this battle of good over evil.
Let us embrace our faith, our souls, our mitzvahs.
And like foghorns in the night they will lead us to the bright
You can now order the tape of Rabbi Jacobsons
elaborate class on this topic.
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This life skills article is one of many services
that we are providing in response to the September 11th atrocity
perpetrated against humanity. We want you to know that all of
us here at The Meaningful Life Center are working overtime to
provide solace and clarity in these trying times. As people
everywhere are undergoing a new soul search for finding meaning
in life, we are redoubling our dedication to our mission to
offer insight and direction to appreciate the deeper meaning
of our lives and build security with all the uncertainty brewing
If you or anyone you know has any specific needs or questions,
please call on us. We are committed to doing everything we can
to serve you.
Our ability to bring you more such vital services
is entirely dependent on your financial support. We have established
a special September 11 fund specifically dedicated to address
the unique needs of our times. We urge you to make a donation
to this fund and help us respond to the profound need today
for clarity and direction.
We need to join together as never before to nourish
the grass roots awakening that has consumed this nation and
its gravitation to faith and G-d, and transform it into a permanent
spiritual transformation. Our calling today is to demonstrate
leadership and light up the way in which to forge ahead amidst
this tragedy, and these new, challenging times.
Our sages teach us that by intensifying our charitable acts
we open up new channels of blessings. In this spirit, may your
commitment be a source of blessings in all aspects of your life.
We look forward to working together with you in this divine
cause. Through our joint effort we can grow through this process
and build a better world a world where there is no evil
and destruction because it is filled with Divine knowledge
as the waters cover the sea.
Phillip, Jason, Neria, Shoshana, Chani, Sarah, Yael, Eli
and of all us at The Meaningful Life Center
Helping You Redefine What Truly Matters
Our hearts, condolences and prayers go out to all the families
directly affected by this calamity, and to all New Yorkers,
Americans and the entire human race against whom this atrocity
WHAT IS THE MOST POWERFUL THING YOU CAN DO
IN RESPONSE TO SEPTEMBER 11?
Join us in creating a passionate spiritual
revolution for the good.
As passions of violence have been released
on us, against humanity, our most powerful response is to counter
with a passionate revolution of purpose, with no less passion
and drive than the evil being waged against us.
This is our mission at the Meaningful Life