It is hard to believe that it has been 10 years. Like most New Yorkers (no matter where I call home or live, I will always be a New Yorker, born and bred), I have a 9/11 story and remember it like it happened yesterday.
But since I was lucky enough to be spared the unfathomable grief and horror of losing someone close and dear to me, today is not the day to tell that story.
Today is for remembering and cherishing the lives of the victims of that awful and tragic day.
And for saluting and honoring the thousands of individuals, uniformed and civilian, well-known and anonymous, who performed extraordinary acts of courage and strength in the face of unspeakable death and destruction.
Two of the most famous sayings of the ancient Jewish sages from two millennia ago are
“Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world.”
“Whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.”
When I reflect on that day, I recall these words of wisdom which echo the belief that each human being is of infinite worth and value, created in the image of G-d.
And I think about the Hebrew terms,
Kiddush Hashem, a sanctification of G-d’s name
Hilul Hashem, a desecration of G-d’s name.
There have been few days in my life where each of these phenomena were so powerfully present in a single time and space.
Over the years, there have been countless articles, stories, reports, images and videos that movingly capture the events and emotions of September 11, 2001.
For me, however, the item that continues to resonate and remain lodged in my brain is ironically from the satirical newspaper The Onion, which ran an article shortly after that day entitled, God Angrily Clarifies ‘Don’t Kill’ Rule. The article concludes,
“Upon completing His outburst, God fell silent, standing quietly at the podium for several moments. Then, witnesses reported, God’s shoulders began to shake, and He wept.”