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Shoftim: 9/11 Fifteen Years Later

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This week we honor September 11th. Eighteen years ago, on a beautiful Tuesday morning, the world changed forever. The clash of civilizations that was brewing beneath the surface for millennia, a clash between east and west, suddenly and horrifically burst into the open. Two witnesses, two towers, bore undeniable and devastating testimony for the entire world to see.

Things have not gotten better ever since. Terrorism continues to haunt us: Attacks across the globe, from Nice to San Bernardino, not to mention the state of war in Israel, and the ongoing wars in Syria, Iraq and the entire region. Our way of life, down to our air travel has been disrupted.

What have we learned over the past eighteen years? Since that tragic day, hundreds of thousands of human beings have died in what is actually a religious war, a clash of life and death. Much of the world does not acknowledge this reality, even when the testimony and evidence is there in the blood, tears and broken bodies.

The Twin Towers were twin witnesses to this fact – as is the anguish playing across the Middle East, in particular Israel, every day.

We, the Jewish people, bear witness to the horror of today just as we have borne witness to the world’s atrocities since we became a nation in Egypt. Indeed, one of the reasons (maybe the reason) that the forces of darkness have attacked us again and again is the same reason the Mafia dons try to kill all the witnesses – the existence of our light haunts their consciences.

And that brings us to what the Torah has to say on the subject of witnesses.

The Torah, the book of divine living, requires us to have two witnesses in order to establish and confirm a law, a transaction, or any new reality. Why are two witnesses required by the Torah? And how is this connected to the two witnesses of the Twin Towers?

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