Tonight is a shiur on a very timely and fascinating topic. It's an understanding of why the World Trade Center disaster occurred. How can we understand where such events will lead and what they mean? This is what I want to speak about tonight.
What we must understand when we approach an historical event as recent, as dramatic, as that which occurred on September 11th 2001 is that we, the Jewish people, must analyze it from a Torah perspective. We don't gain our understanding from the New York Times, traditional media outlets, talk shows or magazines. We can access reliable sources for factual information, but their outlook and editorial opinions have a completely different orientation than the Torah does. Therefore, the first thing I have to say is that our orientation has to be from the perspective of Torah. Can we understand what occurred, and why, based on what's called the “Divine Plan of Creation”?
Yes, of course, we can. To do this, however, we require some background information. We need an understanding of the Divine Plan itself. Then, we can understand something of the events that are occurring but from their ultimate causes--their spiritual causes. So, the first idea is the importance of having a mandatory Torah perspective that includes the philosophical framework of G-d’s agenda. There are several dimensions to the events that occurred and which changed the world; I want to try to cover all of them tonight. As I get into the third and fourth dimensions, that already is an understanding at the Divine-Plan level. Obviously, those levels will be much more profound and astounding.
Intent: Strengthening Faith
The intent of this lecture is not just to speak about history, but to strengthen the faith that a Jew has in G-d, to reassure him that G-d loves the world. One of the greatest ways to accomplish this is to grasp the concept of the “Yad Hashem”-- Hand of G-d in history. Such awareness strengthens belief in G-d and bolsters trust that all experiences are intended for a superlatively good objective, certainly for the Jewish people and for the entire world. This is the objective of the shiur. Let's take a look then at the first dimension.
First Dimension: Wake-up Call to a New Era
Comfort With Exile
The first dimension of the World Trade Center disaster, including the aircraft crashes, the aftermath, the economic crisis, the threat of terrorism, is its attribute as harbinger of a new era.
Jews go into exile and they remain there for thousands of years. For two thousand years, we’ve gone from country to country, been in many places over this long time. This is the concept of exile. As exiles, Jews have become comfortable in the lands they lived in.
We're American Jews, living here all our lives, some of us for more than one generation. Before America, it was Europe, the Middle East, and so on. We became accustomed, and acclimated, to these environments. We might have fancy homes; we’ve become ensconced in the comforts of the “American way” of life. We began to see ourselves as Americans first and Jews second; it's a product of the exile.
Mission of the Jews
What is the purpose, the mission, of the Jews? Is it to become acclimated to the host nation?---of course not; we are a Torah nation. G-d wants us to observe his Torah, perform his commandments no matter where we are. Secondly, we should become a positive model for the nations of the world to emulate. Primarily, G-d wants us to be a nation of priests, to do His will, and testify to His absolute authority and Oneness. This is our purpose, but Jews forget this. Jews came to America and they became American. They became acclimated to the culture, which is a tremendous mistake. America is a host nation; that's all it is. We're not really Americans although we feel sincere loyalty to America, which I will speak about. In essence, we are not Americans; we are Jews who are commanded to observe the Torah of G-d. That is our responsibility. If G-d finds that the Jews are getting too comfortable among the nations, he shakes them up. There are many ways G-d can shake up the Jews; dire persecution is one way. In this particular instance, He did it another way. G-d wants to break the psychological bonds, the social bonds, that the Jew has with America. You will see why. This is the beginning of a new era.
What does G-d do about our complacency? We believe we'll always have jobs, the economy will always be great, life will be good. Nothing happens throughout our lives to provoke anxiety about our physical security. We do our thing, try to raise our families, interact with America, enjoy America’s opportunities.
All of a sudden, the economy is not great; there are hundreds of thousands of people without jobs and --wait a minute! -- terrorism around us and we don’t know when or how it will strike. No longer can an American really feel safe in his own country, never mind outside of his country. What G-d has done is erode that complacency. This is the beginning of the wake-up call when G-d says: “You're my people. You're my kids. You’re ostensibly American, but not genuinely. As good citizens, there are things you should do vis á vis America but, essentially, you belong to Me and no one else; don't get so comfortable. There is much to do, as Jews,” but we forget or ignore this.
The first dimension to grasp, therefore, is that this disaster has been a wake-up call. I want to state for the books that this is a wake-up call for American Jewry, that America is not as secure as you might think economically, socially, or any other way. You have only G-d to rely on. This is the beginning of the reversal of the Jew’s dependence, his reliance -- whether it is cultural, psychological, economical, or social -- on America.
An Aside: Credit Where Credit is Due
Before I discuss the second dimension, there is something important to keep in mind. America is one of the greatest nations of all time in terms of its generosity and fair-mindedness both to its citizens and to other nations. That's a tremendous attribute, in many ways. American has many good deeds to its merit; one has to acknowledge this. Its foreign aid budget surpasses that of all other countries in the world. It is very important, and notwithstanding everything else, to state out that America is a nation with a history of loving-kindness, charity, and benevolence. Keep in mind that what I say tonight doesn't detract in any way from the kindness that America shows, and has shown, the world -- especially the Jewish people. We can practice our religion freely, go where we want, do what we want, sit in the “beis midrash”--religious study hall all day, or go to work.
Because of anti-Semitism which has consistently been on the mind of the Jew for two thousand years, and though there is anti-Semitism in America, what a haven America has been compared to Europe! We have been free to practice Judaism, something that has been rare. Because of this, we in America are tremendous “ha’koes ha’tov.” What does this mean? We owe America a profound debt of gratitude, Therefore, America expects, and should receive, the loyalty of the Jewish people.
Not withstanding this introduction, I now have to broach a subject that is a negative statement about America. There's a fundamental ingredient that's required for peace to exist. What is that element?---truth.
Facing the Truth About One’s Enemies, Divine Providence, Free Will
The only way that you could ever have peace is to truthfully assess who your enemy really is. When people lie to themselves because of their biases or self-interest, peace is unachievable. We are compelled, therefore, to face the truth about certain things that America has done. We Jews know that G-d is the absolute ruler of the world. Torah is absolute, immutable, and eternal. G-d doesn't share His dominion with anybody. He may allow agents to do His bidding, but He directs, controls everything-- literally.
If you want a poetic stint on this, there's “hashgacha pratis”---Divine Providence. Someone parks by a meter, puts his hand into his pocket to take out a quarter, but takes out a dime; that's hashgacha pratis. The fact that he should have this slight annoyance not to pull out a quarter first is Divine Providence. It is part of the “yissurim”-suffering that a person has to experience in order to atone for his sins – imagine! This is how far-reaching Divine Providence is. We Jews know that everything that happens can only happen because of Divine decree. G-d must decree it for it to happen. If there is no decree, it cannot happen - or vice-versa. If somebody pulling out a dime rather than a quarter is Divine Providence, how much more so is such intervention when thousands get killed in a bombing, or so many lose their jobs, or so many are frightened about terrorism. We Jews know that G-d is the absolute master of all Creation and all is directed by him. If that's the case, how do we understand free will? Nineteen Moslems take out the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and were probably aiming for the White House. If everything is a decree by G-d, what does “free will” mean?
Evildoers and Free Will
Does that mean G-d put into the minds of these nineteen guys to commit this terrible evil? The answer is no, not at all. How do the acts of evildoers relate to G-d's Will?
First of all, it's important to know that free will has a range of possible indications. We have free will, but not always. What does that mean? Let's assume G-d wants someone to be punished and, three blocks away, there's a guy waiting to attack and rob somebody. G-d puts into the mind of that person to walk in the direction of the perpetrator. This guy cannot distinguish between a decision that he makes based on his “b'chira”-- free will, and G-d’s provocation. All he knows is that's the way he wants to go. He goes in his “chosen” direction and, of course, he is robbed and, of course, he's terribly upset.
Why did that happen? G-d decided that he has to suffer this type of punishment for whatever sin he’s done. In this case, G-d interfered with free will and He does that many times. However, it is important to know that, by and large, G-d does not interfere with free will and a person does what he wants. If G-d, generally, does not interfere, how do we understand a person who wants to do evil, especially those nineteen guys that flew the planes and caused this catastrophic event?
Since G-d knows everything - literally everything - He knows who wants to do evil. There are many people out there who want to do evil. Why does it not come off as they’d like? They’re not given the opportunity. They don't have the success, the wherewithal to do it. If G-d wants a certain person to experience a very difficult situation, He “looks around,” meaning He takes stock of the status quo of the moment and finds the ideal candidate to deliver the consequence He intends. He works with what conforms to His agenda. If someone deserves to suffer, G-d, therefore, not only will not interfere but will also give the “messenger” of that suffering the “hatzlacha”-- success. It’s as if He were to say: “I will give you success to carry out your evil.” Is the perpetrator considered guilty and culpable? Of course, he is, because G-d doesn't implant the evil intent into the mind of this person; he wants to do it and decides to do it. You could attribute to G-d the statement: “I'll stand back and let you do it, give you the wherewithal,” but the perpetrator has to decide to do it; G-d does not force him. Therefore, that person is culpable for whatever crime he does, even though G-d wants him to do it and G-d helps him because this person's wicked intention conforms to the Divine agenda. This is a very important idea. There are many people out there that want to kill people; there's no question about that, but G-d thwarts their plans. Consider Louis Farrakhan who would love to kill the Jewish people. He has the mind of Hitler. Why can't he do it? -- Because G-d doesn't let him. There are many other rabid anti-Semites all over the world who can’t bring their intents to fruition because G-d doesn't let them. But when the time comes and such intent conforms to G-d’s agenda, then Divine assistance, even His protection, is afforded them so their evil design can be fulfilled. An individual, or even a population, may have to experience some type of catastrophe or disaster as part of His agenda.
We see this with Hitler--yemach sh'mo (may his name be cursed). I won’t get into the entire rationale behind the Holocaust now, but G-d sanctioned the death of six million Jews in that way. So, G-d surveyed the array of possible candidates who could do it. Hitler was a unique individual. G-d saved his life countless times. Do you know how many times they tried to kill that guy? His army hated him because they felt he was frustrating, thwarting, the ability of the German army to conquer Europe; it was true. He made terrible decisions. So they staged many assassination attempts; he was saved from each one. Why? Hitler was a very rare type of person.
There are people who want to do evil, but what kind of evil? They want to embezzle a little, steal, cheat customers. They want to get something for nothing. But how many people do you think have that level of tremendous, overwhelming evil in them to want to kill people in an unbelievably brutal way and use their hair and skin for manufacturing common household items? -- not very many. G-d needed Hitler because he was one of the few people who could systematize murder, organize it in such a calculated way as to inflict the most torturous suffering and do it to the exclusion of what should have been his other priorities. I don't know why G-d did that, but clearly Hitler was only able to succeed because that's what G-d wanted. Not only did Hitler succeed, he was protected Divinely and was saved miraculously probably because it's difficult to find a guy that evil. That’s a classic example of the relationship between evildoers and G-d’s agenda.
The Friday after Tuesday’s attack, September 14th 2001, was made a national day of prayer. President Bush was asked what he would pray for. It's a good question. What is the difference between the way a Jew and a non-Jew would answer, even if that non-Jew were president of the United States? Bush answered that he will pray for the victims and their families, for all those that are suffering as a result of this disaster. It's a true answer, but is it a real answer?
There's something much more important. When the Jewish people suffer because of some catastrophe, what do Jews know? They know that G-d did this. This didn't happen by chance or while G-d was sleeping and somebody slipped past him to do this. This is ordered by G-d. G-d doesn't do this if the victim is righteous. Clearly, America is wanting on the scales of justice.
What Bush should have said is “I pray to G-d for guidance, as the leader of this nation, to understand what we're doing wrong.” When Jews are subject to a disaster, what do they do? They make a prayer assembly to say Tehillim--Psalms. They examine their deeds, become introspective, repent. They ask G-d what’s wrong. Bush should have said, “I ask G-d what’s wrong with America that G-d should have done this to us,” because He did it; it's His decree. Does Bush think that nineteen guys could pull this off without a Divine decree?
Maybe he does; it seems so. America behaves as though it considers itself righteous and it represents good against evil. Why would this happen if America were wholly good? Bush, as president, failed in his leadership to make an effort to understand the relationship between G-d and human events. This is a major failure because it means that America is likely to continue to do whatever they have been found guilty of and for which they’ve been punished. G-d used the Moslems and we will see why he used the Moslems to do it. But he did use the Moslems to punish America.
The Second Dimension: Divine Retribution
The second dimension is about the concept of retribution, in this case, this act of terrorism against the United States for an act so terrible that G-d decided to inflict this major blow. If we explore the cause of this retribution, we can see that it was clearly ordained by G-d.
Disaster Unusual in Scope and Standards
This disaster was unusual by several standards. It had to have had Divine assistance. I said two months ago that Bin Laden was responsible but it's only now been verified by tape-recorded evidence that Bin Laden was truly responsible for this disaster. These guys never expected to be so successful, never. They thought that they'd hit those buildings that would explode from the impact point, the damage spreading upward. Whatever they managed to destroy -- 10,15,20 floors -- would determine the death toll. Did they ever think that the entire World Trade Center would collapse? Lest you think it was only the buildings that collapsed, the entire World Trade Center is a total disaster: The rubble goes all the way down, twelve stories beneath ground zero. The subterranean foundation is a pile of rubble. Probably most of the bodies, if there are bodies, which there probably are not, are underneath it all.
The interesting thing to notice first is that G-d decreed these centers must be destroyed “ad hayesod ba”--until its very foundation. If you want to know how utterly destroyed it was, there's terrific danger when they get down to ground zero’s foundation. If they remove all the rubble, they could weaken the support wall that's holding back the Hudson River. Imagine! They're not sure if the retaining walls were damaged to the extent it could allow the entire river to pour into those nine acres. You would have a little lake where the buildings used to be. Can you imagine the type of destruction that we are talking about?
Another unusual idea is that America spends thirty billion dollars -- that's a lot of money -- on intelligence-gathering, yet they knew nothing, had no intelligence data at all before it hit them; at least that is where it stands now. They spent thirty billion: supported the CIA, the National Security Council, the FBI, and they tell me they didn't know anything? And the answer is, of course not; they knew nothing. How is it possible to spend thirty billion dollars on security and know nothing? This has been going on for a long time. These guys who flew the plane had been taking flying lessons for at least a year.
G-d could have said: “This is going to happen and I don't care how much money they spend. I determine who knows anything and, therefore, the entire United States Government will be completely in the dark vis á vis the entire terrorist plot. Bush should have realized that, surely, it must be the Hand of G-d but, of course, he doesn't realize. But we, as Jews, must see that.
The Second Dimension: Retribution
Let us now go into the second dimension termed “retribution.” The question is: Why did G-d exact this retribution? In order to understand this, we have to understand a very important idea called, “levels of culpability.”
Levels of Culpability
Imagine this. Somebody wants to rob a bank. He’s the “perpetrator.” He's culpable, clearly. Beside this perpetrator, there's also the guy who drove the getaway car. He's the “accomplice.” In addition to these two, there's the guy who owns the property where the plans were hatched. So, he’s a “collaborator.” The guy who is helping them figure out how to rob the bank is also culpable at some level being part of the crime. Then there's the guy who doesn't want to join them because he says it's too risky but gives them a “bracha”-blessing and wishes them “hatzlacha”-success, mazel tov, and may they be successful in this endeavor. He's also guilty but, clearly, he's the least guilty. Each one of these people is guilty and everyone has to suffer retribution based on his level of culpability. Where do we see this?
For instance, by Europe in World War II, the ones who killed the Jews were the Nazis and the German people. What about all those people, all those nations, that sold Germany weapons and ammunition? And what about the Swiss that financed the whole deal? What about the other nations of the world that refused to allow the Jews into their countries and those that cheered on the Germans -- for example, the Poles? And I'm not going to talk about the Ukrainians and the Lithuanians that killed the Jews also, nor about the British that issued the “White Paper” which forbade the Jews entering Israel despite that the League of Nations decreed otherwise. The British forbade the Jews from going to the only country that they could escape to thereby becoming a full-fledged accomplice to the Nazis; this was Great Britain.
We don't always see why G-d does something to nations because, based on our blindness, we are apt to think they didn't do anything wrong. G-d, however, knows the level of culpability of each nation, each person, and each is reviewed, revisited, and repaid with whatever consequence is deserved.
I will make a remarkable statement: America aids and legitimizes terrorism; I don’t know if you realize that. America aids, abets, legitimizes, and sponsors terrorism. That which they claim they try to fight, they actually sponsor; I'll show you why and how. America makes fundamental mistakes believing that because some policies are in their self-interest, they can commit acts of evil. If it’s determined to be in America’s best interest, that becomes the basis for foreign policy no matter the ethical considerations that ought to be determinants.
The Oil Factor
One of the major objectives of America is the maintenance of the free flow of oil from the Middle East. In order to have such free flow, one must have stability in the region. Stability in the Middle East requires that war be absent, even if it means allowing Israel to commit suicide. That’s the price that Israel has to pay for being in the wrong place at the wrong time when America needs oil. I'm not even going into the anti-Semitism at work in the State Department, a condition that has been copiously documented. There's a publication called “The Secret War Against the Jews” which documents the acts and policies against the Jews that is just mind-boggling. America aids, abets, sponsors and legitimizes terrorism. Where do we see this? I'm just giving you a couple of examples. It's unfortunate to have to say these truths.
Arming Mass Murderer Hussein
America gave arms, equipment, and weapons to Saddam Hussein in Iraq when he was fighting Iran. How do you give this guy weapons? This guy's a butcher, a mass murderer of his own people. How do you assume the right, just because you think it's in your self-interest, to give a murderer weapons? Of course it's forbidden, but they did it anyway.
Clinton. President Clinton sits down with Hafez Assad of Syria trying to convince him to make peace -- whatever. How do you sit down with this guy? He’s a mass murderer. Syria is on the terrorist list, one of the greatest of all terrorist entities. What do you think the world sees when Clinton sits down with Assad? They say, “Hey, this guy's legitimate.” When a president of the United States sits down with Assad and legitimatizes him, gives him dignity by negotiating with him -- all of this is forbidden. Besides, Syria is one of the major counterfeiters compromising the value of the dollar. If these things weren’t enough, Syria was an accomplice to the bomb attack on the marines stationed in Lebanon. Without getting into all that, how does Clinton do it? America thinks that individuals must be moral and ethical, but a country doesn't have to. It has only to answer to its self-interest.
The most heinous example of injustice perpetrated by America is its engagement with the greatest of all terrorists and the most successful -- Arafat. This man has to open a college and offer advanced degrees for being a terrorist. This guy knows everything there is about how to do it. How many times was Arafat invited to the White House? It's mind-boggling. He was there more times than many other heads of state. That legitimatizes Arafat, gives him dignity and respect. Clinton made Arafat into a statesman. Then the UN invites him but -- wait a minute! -- This man is a psychopathic and a megalomaniacal liar; the Arabs themselves know it. This man has violated every agreement he has ever made. This man kills; he ordered the murder of two State Department officials in the Sudan, and they have that on tape; Arafat ordered it. And not only that; Arafat kills his own, eliminates them. Again, it’s self-interest. What kind of an evil is this? But the real story is something far beyond even this. Let me give you an example and then you will understand the second dimension of what happened in the World Trade Center disaster.
Imagine that you want to sell your house for half a million dollars. A guy offers to buy it -- great. You sit there and negotiate with him and his lawyers and so on. After three months of negotiating you're really getting tired of this but you want to sell your house so you say, “I'll sell you the house for 350,000 dollars -- not bad. You dropped 150,000 dollars off the market price. So you figure the guy's going to grab it. What does the guy say to you? “What do you mean, 350,000 dollars! No deal!” -- and this after three months of negotiating. “I want it for twenty dollars,” is what the guy says to you.
“Are you for real?” you say, thinking how much chutzpah he has. “You want my house for twenty dollars? Obviously you're insane.” But it's not only that. “How dare you waste my time for three months! It’s lunacy. It's not even a sane offer,” you tell him.
The guy looks at you after he offers you twenty dollars, gets up, takes a gun out of his pocket, points it at you and says, “Twenty dollars -- forget that; I’ll take it for twenty cents.” What would you say to this? Is there any lawyer in America that would justify this man's actions, any lawyer in the entire world? – Of course, not!
Let's take a look at Arafat. Clinton, Rabin, Peres decide that maybe Arafat has repented. He really wants to do teshuva, really wants to make peace with Israel. What’s the basis of the negotiation? It's land -- fine. So they begin the negotiation. Everybody assumes that Arafat will compromise, so they draw up an agreement. What does Arafat do? Arafat violates the agreement hundreds of times and never reciprocates. This goes on for years and years and, while he's jerking everyone around, Jews are getting killed. He didn't openly declare an intifada but Jews are getting killed. Wouldn’t any rational party expect the other party to understand that he is obligated -- morally, ethically -- to abide by it? Would America ever persist to negotiate a contract when the other party violates clauses of the agreement and shows no indication that they’re considering any compromise? They'd walk away; any lawyer would tell them to. But what does America do? America says nothing but, instead, turns to Israel saying, in essence, “Restrain yourself! No excessive force! You've got to sit still while they violate you and kill you.” It’s incredible how seven years goes by and the whole world watches while this man “negotiates” with Israel while butchering Jews, violating agreements. The Palestinian police force becomes an army. I’m not going to get into the specifics of the violations. The point is that nobody objects to anything. The Americans violate their own legal standards. They would never have been party to this otherwise, but they say nothing because Israel is the one negotiating, not them.
Bin Laden could say to Arafat: “What do they want from me? I killed a couple thousand Americans but you killed many thousands of people. How come America is not coming after you? Why only me?”
Arafat could say, “Fool! I only kill Jews.” That's the difference.
Unfortunately that's the truth. So, the world says nothing while this outrageous escapade goes on.
Suddenly, there's a campaign in the court and Ehud Barak offers Arafat a deal which is unheard of in the history of mankind -- offers him everything. That's the equivalent of the 350,000 dollars. Barak dropped the price to an unheard of price. He says, “Here! I’m giving it to you.” What does Arafat do? He rejects the offer. Why? He demands the “right of return” for every so-called Palestinian Arab -- four million of them. What do you mean four million of them? That's the end of the State of Israel. That's like saying: “I don't want 350,000 dollars. I will give you twenty dollars for your house and the offer must include four million Arabs.”
What do you think would happen the next day? The Arabs will vote the entire Knesset out because they have four million, the majority. Of course, the whole thing is ludicrous. What did the world say? America should have said: “How dare you! Why did you drop the offering price to twenty dollars? Are you psychotic? And how dare you waste my time for seven years!” Did the European Union say that? Did America say that? -- of course, not. Any idea what evil that is, that Israel is being forced to commit suicide and under the terms of the most obvious illegality and insanity? America says nothing. The European Union says nothing. The UN says nothing. Nobody says anything. But they keep insisting that Israel give more. Give up more! And Arafat, essentially, takes out a gun and says, “You don't want to give it to me for twenty bucks, I’ll kill you and start a war called “intifada” on erev Rosh Hashanah. The Arabs are described as what? -- as “militants” and “freedom fighters” while Israel remains under pressure to surrender more.
Do you think that G-d sits by silently and says nothing? Do you think G-d doesn't see the evil of what America, the European Union, the United Nations and the entire world were doing while Arafat held his gun to Israel’s head and demanded they allow him to steal the country? Israeli citizens were dying daily and nobody says a word except for their insistence that Israel restrain its military options. G-d waits and, all of a sudden, there's a verdict in heaven.
Listen to the verdict and then you’ll understand the second dimension of the World Trade Center disaster. What is the verdict? The verdict goes like this:
Verdict #1: America is on trial and everybody's going to ask, why single out America more than any other nation? But in any case, America is on trial and the verdict comes in. You want to kill My children? says G-d. I will kill yours; that’s verdict number one.
Verdict #2: You want to allow them to destroy My capital -- Jerusalem, the holy city? I will destroy yours -- New York, not Washington. New York City was regarded as the greatest city and the financial capital of the world.
Verdict #3 speaks to the question: You want My children to live in terror without a shred of rachmanus--compassion? You would subject My children to horrors you yourselves would never tolerate? You will live in terror too, says G-d.
Verdict #4 presumes that America has no regard for destruction to Israel’s economy. The country has bombs going off everywhere. G-d might rhetorically ask: have you no regard for the life-blood of the economy of My children -- tourism, the world paying homage to Israel’s history and holiness with both reverence and money? I will destroy your economy.
Verdict #5 stems from G-d’s wry question: so, you want to consort with terrorists? They will destroy you.
Why did G-d use these particular people as the instrument for retribution to America? America legitimatizes Arafat, legitimizes terrorists by calling them “militants” and “military fighters” and “freedom fighters.” OK. “Let’s see,” G-d could just as well say, “how you regard these ‘freedom fighters’ when they bring your financial capital to its knees.” Everything that happens is by G-d’s Hand, as you know, even those events that are catastrophically destructive. There are plenty of guys in America that would have loved to bring down the World Trade Center. The guy who blew up the government building in Oklahoma likely would have thought about, dreamed about, bringing down the World Trade Center, but G-d dictated that he would successfully bomb the very building he did, but nothing else.
Why does G-d give success to the Moslems as opposed to the other people that would like to have done it? That's part of the “mida-keneged-mida”- measure-for-measure, expressed in verdict number five. “You want to be friends with these guys, legitimize their tyranny and deviousness? They will destroy you,” could say, delivering verdict number five; how could anybody miss it? We see that G-d runs the justice system measure-for-measure. When you commit “Act A,” it is not “Act B” that is consequent; it’s the mirror image of “Act A”. Therefore, if you want to understand the crime, look at the punishment. The reason for that particular act of retribution is a reflection of the crime.
Torah Values vs. Western Values
What does America pride itself on? Freedom and democracy, that's what they're always touting. Are freedom and democracy important? Of course they are; freedom of religion, freedom of speech, both are part of America’s mission statement. There's no question that these are very important values. But if you asked G-d what He wants, what He thinks should be the ideals of a nation -- for instance, the Jewish nation -- what G-d would say is: “It is not freedom that I desire; it is righteousness. It is not democracy that I desire, but holiness.” You don't find “freedom” and “democracy” blatantly in the Torah. You find these principles to some extent in the command to love your neighbor as yourself. You don't want to be enslaved, so don't enslave your neighbor; that's where you find the values of freedom and democracy. There are no commandments that dictate the assertion of freedom and democracy toward the nations.
However, the Torah does say, “kedoshim t’hiyu”-- you will be holy. How many times does it say “tzedek, tzedek tirdof!”-- righteousness, righteousness thou shalt pursue? America makes this fundamental mistake; that's the flaw in their thinking. G-d wants righteousness and holiness first. These attributes could very well flourish within freedom and democracy, but these fundamental social properties are not G-d’s priority.
Why would G-d would wait so long to bring retribution upon America? This situation has been extant since September 1973. In order to understand the answer, you have to understand something else. There are three ways to advance the purpose of Creation, to bring the presence of G-d back into the universe. That process, incumbent upon mankind originally, and the Jew, specifically, is what's called “Tikkun”-- rectification. G-d is “absent” from the universe and our purpose is to bring G-d back. How is this done? It is done through mitzvahs, a person’s service through fulfilling the commandments. A person does mitzvahs, and G-d’s presence returns. What happens if a person doesn't do mitzvahs but, instead, sins? He does “teshuva”-repentance; that also inspires G-d’s return. What happens if a person doesn't do G-d’s Will and does not repent? There's a third way; the third rectification “device” is yissurin--suffering. The secret of the exile and its effect on the Jewish people is enactment of that suffering; it’s the reason we have been in exile for so many thousands of years, because we are primarily involved in the third mechanism. Before G-d brings redemption, what does He do?
Let's consider Egypt as the template because the exodus from Egypt is the first redemption. The final redemption will model itself after the Egyptian redemption. It says in the “chazal”-writings of the sages that the Jews merited redemption from Egypt because they did not change their language, their clothing, or their names. What does this have to do with the redemption? They were liberated because of the suffering they endured in Egypt, but they had to leave Egypt as Jews, not as Egyptians. G-d didn't want to take Egyptians out of Egypt. Even though they had degraded to the “49th level of defilement,” which is what chazal---sages tell us, the fact that they had so much suffering was an important factor in their redemption.
Now, in 2001, you see something very troubling. Many Jews --30-40-50 percent of the Jewish people--don't identify as Jews at all. There's nothing Jewish about them. Therefore, even if they suffer, even if G-d expiates their sins, they don’t identify as Jews. What G-d wants is to redeem the Jewish people, not people that have assimilated and dissolved completely into the nations around them. G-d creates an event compelling the Jewish people to acknowledge their Jewishness so that the suffering they feel, as Jews, will permit their redemption. Jews speak different languages, dress differently from each other, have different sorts of names depending on where they live. Iranian Jews have different names than American Jews, for example. So G-d has to give them a different way to express their common Jewishness.
Oslo: Facilitating Jews to Identify with Their Jewishness
Now you'll begin to understand the incredible process that G-d initiated. The name of that process is called “Oslo” -- the Oslo Peace Process. What does that have to do with identification with Jewishness? Of course, Oslo has nothing to do with peace; that's why it collapsed in July, 2000.
G-d gets all these guys sitting down together to swap land for peace but, of course, there's never going to be land for peace because Arafat cannot make peace. Why cannot Arafat make peace? The Quran disallows a Moslem from making peace with an entity considered an occupier. It’s theologically impossible. Therefore, the true objective of the Arabs is to dislodge the Jews totally from the land of Israel. Besides that, Arafat cannot make peace because Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah would assassinate him. So, spiritually speaking, the principal purpose of Oslo is to prompt Jews to identify as Jews.
The first offer of land in the negotiation was Jericho. Suddenly, there are thousands of Jews saying, Jericho? You can't give Jericho back! You’re talking about Joshua. Incidentally, Jericho is one of the oldest cities in the world. Like Damascus, Jericho is thousands of years old. Jericho, of course, has incredible biblical significance.
G-d surveys the situation as though saying, Ah-ha! You guys don't want to give Jericho back because you have a feel for Jewishness? You're in. You get a place in the Future World. You guys can be redeemed. But not all get it. What do the rest of the Jewish people say?---Give it back!
The next item being negotiated is the territories: Judea, Samaria, with Shechem. Thousands of Jews say, how can you give back Shechem? That's where Joseph is buried! How can you give back Judea and Samaria? This is the biblical heartland! Many thousands of Jews say “no.” G-d says, No? You guys -- you're in.
The next item on the negotiating table is Hebron. How can you give back Hebron, the city of the patriarchs? The “Moras ha’Machpaeila-patriarchal burial tomb has been there for thousands of years. No way! Once again, hundreds of thousands of Jews become indignant at the thought of relinquishing Hebron. So G-d says, Ah, you guys don't want to give back Hebron because you feel a certain amount of Jewishness about it? You're in.
Look at what is happening! G-d is lowering the threshold of Jewish identification making it easier to identify as Jews because we’re obligated to observe the Torah, but look how far G-d has to stretch to give these Jews a way of identifying as Jews. Many, many Jews, however, still say: give Hebron back. Okay, so it's the city of the patriarchs.
What's next? -- Jerusalem. Millions of Jews, said: No way. How can you give back the holiest city to the Jewish people, holy for thousands of years, the city we prayed toward and which is mentioned more than six hundred times in the biblical record and holy texts but not mentioned once in the entire Quran? G-d says, you guys are all in because you have a feeling for Jewishness, although there are still people that are ok with giving it back, though they are in a distinct minority.
Next is “Har ha’Bayit”--Temple Mount. It’s July 2000 and the Temple Mount, along with the Old City, is on the negotiating table. Guess what! Most of those who were willing to give territory back now say: this cannot be. How can you consider resigning the holiest place of the Jews? It's impossible. Would the Arabs ever give back Mecca, the black stone -- the Kabba? The Jews say: even if I didn’t believe in Judaism except as a culture, this is our history. How do you give back our history? No, they said.
From G-d’s perspective, we have ninety-eight percent of Jews identifying with their Jewishness; they’re back. Two percent still say: give it away! but, I tell you something; He wants everybody to be redeemed. He wants everybody in olam ha’ba -- Future World. So, what does He do?
If these guys are willing to give back the Temple Mount, what else is there? G-d says: okay, that's the end of Oslo because the purpose of Oslo was to get all the Jews, at some level, to identify with Judaism. Consequently, Oslo collapses in July, 2000. But how do you get back the rest of the Jews? Ah ha! There's one more option ---the intifada. G-d prompts Arafat by putting the idea in his mind or simply allows Arafat to do his own bidding and the intifada begins. The Jewish people then say: this is ridiculous! This guy doesn't want peace--this guy with the gun pointing his gun at your head demanding you sell him your house for twenty cents. Do you know how many people from the Left switched over to the Right, how many people from the Mapai Party---the biggest Leftist Party already having seen that Oslo is a failure---concluded that the only way to solve this problem would be with war?
Now there is only one percent left to convince and bring back. After the negotiations for Jerusalem, the Temple Mount, and the terror of an intifada, G-d prompts one last time. What is the argument of this last one percent to confront? They believe that Arafat's crazy, not a peace partner, but the world wants peace. The world, the UN, that coerced Arafat to “make peace!” did so because the world wants peace, doesn’t it?
The Last Prompt
In the first week of September 2001, the United Nations convenes a conference on racism in Durban, South Africa. At that conference, the Arabs successfully divert the topic of “racism” to focus on “anti-Semitism,” the thrust being against Jews and Israel. The unofficial resolution was that the Jewish state had no right to exist. Could you imagine that? That was the end, the last claim, the last pronouncement because the world wants peace, right? At this point, the general feeling among Jews was the imperative to keep its state and, if it's wrong, let it be wrong. It was an overwhelming sense of incredulity. Essentially, everybody's now back.
How is it possible, however, that there are still a few, like Shimon Peres, who still think that Arafat wants peace? The answer is quite disturbing. Shimon Peres and his ilk are desperate people. They have an agenda to accomplish with Arafat, to destroy the religious aspect of Israel the only way they can, by making Israel a state like every other in the Middle East, by removing the religious element. The only way to do that is to join with Arabs and make a middle-eastern state in which Israel becomes the “State of Israel” and not a “Jewish State.” That's what these guys really want. Anybody who doesn't have a biased agenda against the Jewish religion recognizes this.
September 11th: Retribution
G-d waited until the end of the Oslo process, the process to bring as many Jews as possible “back” to identify with Judaism. The last episode of the process wasn't the Camp David Accords or even the intifada; it was in Durban, South Africa at the UN conference on “Racism.” That was the last step of G-d’s procedures to remind Jews who they are. Now is the time for retribution; G-d permits the Moslems their terror campaign against the United States.
G-d always warns a country before He's about to do something cataclysmic. When did the Oslo Peace Process begin?---September 13th 1993. Do you remember when the Arabs first tried to blow up the World Trade Center? It was actually in the beginning of 1993. Who stopped them? G-d stopped them, but the knowledge that it almost happened was the warning. G-d, in essence says: this time, I will stop them, but if you don’t desist from allowing the Arabs to destroy My children, they will finally succeed. The inception of the World Trade Center’s demolition came shortly before Oslo and the actual demolition came immediately after the conference in Durban. You must not think that any of this was accidental or coincidental.
The Third Dimension: Divine Agenda
We now begin to examine the third dimension. The third dimension is the Divine agenda. The first two dimensions, as fascinating as they are, are less directly connected with the Divine agenda, with somewhat of an exception for Oslo. With Oslo, you begin to see what it’s really about.
At this point, I’d like to add an aside that is very interesting. The “malachim”--angels say to G-d: Oslo has been a wonderful provocation to get the Jews back, but there’s a monumental problem; you can’t force Israel to give up everything; it’ll never happen. They are correct; Israel will never give up Shechem, Hebron, the Temple Mount, and Jerusalem.
In Need of a Man in Need of a Legacy In this imagined conversation, G-d does something that nobody understands. He apprises the angels of His intention to force Israel to back off. There’s only one way that the Jews can be compelled to commit suicide--so to speak--if that’s what they want. G-d needs to elect a president that is desperate for a legacy--this legacy.
Who’s Bill Clinton? Nobody ever heard about this guy, but when they did, they learned that he’s got scandals from here to wazoo. Basically, he was a nobody from nowhere. Arkansas? Bush, it must be mentioned, had one of the greatest approval ratings of all time - about 88%. How was Clinton going to beat Bush who won the Persian Gulf War? Not a problem for G-d. He makes Bush and all his advisers ignore the economy to its detriment and his. It’s incredible when you think about it. How can they ignore the economy when it’s in recession?---But they did. Clinton didn’t ignore it and he was voted in.
Why did G-d choose him? G-d knew the “yetzer ha’ra”-evil inclination of Clinton, this guy’s proclivities to do outrageous things both in the White House, out of the White House....G-d knows the free will of Clinton, a will He won’t disturb. G-d knows that Clinton is, fundamentally, a narcissistic scoundrel. Lo and behold, Clinton is voted to be president of the United States and few, if any, recognize the astounding nature of it.
G-d’s next move would be to expose every corrupt and despicable thing Clinton would do. Many presidents got embroiled in scandals but G-d protected them for the dignity of the office and to ensure the ongoing functioning of the government. So, without going into the incredible, immoral, amoral, unethical things that Clinton did, why did G-d expose him? He wanted Clinton to be desperate for a legacy. If Clinton can empower the Arabs and compel the Jews to give up land - bam! Just exert some American pressure and the Jews will identify with Judaism and the Jewish plight.
Clinton is elected in November of ‘92 and, by September of 1993, the Oslo process commences. The essence of Clinton is Oslo and scandal. Various internet-listed sites exposed about sixty scandals at one point making Clinton desperate for a legacy.
G-d’s Protection of Bill Clinton The United States would never allow a person who has so man scandals to remain in office. How can the president of the United States be a convicted felon and guilty of perjury and remain in office? The angels might as well have said: you’re going to expose this guy and, ultimately, the Jews can identify with Judaism, but he’ll never last until the end of the Oslo process. It will never wash. So G-d protects Clinton. Nobody understands how a person with that many scandals can survive in office, and this is after the impeachment hearings. They called Bill the “Teflon President.” Do you know why he was able to survive? G-d ensured that the economy under Clinton would be the greatest economy in American history. Of course, there are reasons such as the “dot-com’s” illusory greatness, and so on. The economy of the Clinton years experienced a boom cycle which was previously unheard of. Do you know how many people became millionaires during Clinton’s incumbency? Now you understand why the economy was so strong; it protected Clinton while he was being exposed. The exposure compelled Clinton to squeeze the Jews, compelling them to identify with Judaism. Incredible isn’t it?
Once Clinton leaves office and Oslo is over with, what happens to the economy? In fact, Bush said that the economy was in recession, and, of course, the World Trade Center disaster made it worse, but the economy was headed this way when Bush left because it was no longer necessary to prop up the economy to keep Clinton afloat. You can look at every single significant event as a facet of the Divine Plan, why Clinton was elected, why he was exposed over time, and why it was impossible to get him out.
In order to understand the third dimension, there are certain things to understand about who’s who. I mentioned that the Jews do the tikkun, to rectify Creation by doing mitzvahs, teshuva, or suffering.
Suffering takes many forms: exiles, persecutions, expulsions, pogroms, and so on. But is suffering administered just anywhere?---no. G-d selects four nations as His primary persecutory agents. When the Jews have to suffer, G-d allows these nations to be His agents in this regard. The Jews get atonement, an elevation to a higher level, because their sins have been expiated.
These nations are:
1- Babylonia - who destroyed the Solomon’s Temple
2- Persia - associated with Purim.
3- Greece - associated with Chanukah (which, of course, we are now in, the eighth day of Chanukah)
4- Rome - the source of our longest, and current, exile.
It’s not as though G-d makes these nations persecute Jews. He knows they will choose to do so and G-d gives them success because the Jews need atonement. This is the concept of “persecutory agents” chosen for their predisposition to the task. What do the nations get out of it? They get something that is beautifully compensatory. They become superpowers because it would be bad enough when His nation has to suffer indignity at the hands of a lowly nation. By elevating each nation chosen to persecute the Jews, at least the subjugation is to a nation of world-class status.
Esav, Edom, Rome
Let’s understand who and what Rome really is. Esav, the twin brother of Jacob, is the progenitor of Edom, the Edomites. According to the Gemara, “Edom zu roimi”-- Edom is Rome. Rome descends from Esav. Why did Esav achieve his status of persecutory agent guaranteeing that Esav’s descendants become a superpower? When Jacob “stole” the blessing of the firstborn that was to have been given to Esav, a profoundly dramatic scene ensues wherein Esav comes to his father, Isaac, supposedly to receive his blessing, but Isaac, not knowing Jacob came in Esav’s stead already, asks, “Who are you?”
Esav’s response, “I’m Esav your firstborn” stuns Isaac who now realizes that Jacob received the blessings. He further realizes that, had Jacob not gotten them, the blessings would have gone to an undeserving candidate. Regardless, Esav cried out in anguish, and we, the Jewish people, suffer terribly because of the tears of Esav, his lack of deservedness notwithstanding. Esav’s plaintive cry, “Don’t you have anything left for me?” belies the fact that Isaac really hadn’t anything left for him, but there is one thing that Isaac salvaged. Isaac’s blessing to Esav was to bequeath to him powerful nationhood if his descendants perform the commandments. If they don’t perform them, they will throw off their yoke that compels them to perform them and, instead, gain dominance over their Jewish brethren, to subjugate them.
How could Isaac do this to his son Jacob and his progeny throughout history? In fact, the ability to dominate, subjugate and, ultimately, persecute the Jews will always be done by some persecutory and powerful nation. Isaac merely said that he, Esav, would be the greatest persecutory nation of them all. In other words: somebody’s got to do it. In compensation to Esav, he was bequeathed greatness. Rome owes its status to the compensatory blessing Esav received from Isaac.
Rome disappeared sixteen hundred years ago and even the Byzantine Empire, with its seat at Constantinople, disappeared six hundred years ago. G-d transformed the persecutory agent from a nation – Rome -- to a religion: Christianity. Christianity is Rome, heir to persecutory agent-status of Rome. Christianity is Western Civilization. Jews have been under Christianity’s domination since its inception and still are, but under the guise of Western Civilization.
Persecution at Hands of Christendom
Lest you wonder if Christianity truly persecuted Jews, consider the many expulsions, pogroms, Inquisitions, and crusades that Christianity perpetrated. Consider now how many millions of Jews have died due to Christianity’s endeavors to either convert or destroy the Jews. Let me give you one interesting statistic that will shock you.
Historians estimate that the number of Jews in Judea two thousand years ago at the time of Caesar was 6-9 million. The world, at that time, only had between 250-300 million people but, of those 300 million, 6-9 million were Jews.
How many people were there in China two thousand years ago? Historians estimate there were 25 million Chinese. How many Chinese are there today?-–more than a billion. That’s an increase of forty times. 40x25 million is approximately one billion. Over the course of two millennia, population dynamics dictate that a population goes from twenty-five million to one billion.
If there were nine million Jews, population dynamics of a forty-times increase would mean that there should be 360 million Jews. That means there would be 720 million synagogues! Every Jew knows that every Jew has to have at least two synagogues, right? How many rabbis would there be? -- 720 million rabbis? How many Jews are there in the world today?--- approximately 14 million Jews. It doesn’t seem to make sense. How can you go from 360 million, which is what it should have been, to fourteen million? This is even more outrageous when you consider that we go back two thousand years earlier than the Christians because we started from Abraham. We should have over a billion Jews. Why don’t we?---Because they’re dead. Christians relentlessly murdered the Jews for two thousand years; that is the obvious reason. That’s why I am always shocked when the pope, a man that heads up a religious institution that has killed hundreds of millions of Jews -- forget about the others -- has the gall to preach brotherhood and love. More people have been killed on behalf of Christianity than by all wars combined. We now understand a very important aspect of Christianity.
Three Characteristics of Esav
According to the Torah, Esav had three characteristics: The first is arrogance; he despised the birthright. The second characteristic was fraudulence; Esav specifically posed the question to his father asking how much one must tithe for salt and straw thereby posing as someone scrupulous in his observance of the commandments (being that salt and straw are materials exempt from the obligation to offer “ma’aser”--tithes). The third characteristic was being a “ba’al gaiva”-pleasure-seeker. This guy was really into “olam hazeh”—materiality (literally, “this world”).
Considering Western Civilization
Western Civilization is divided into three regions according to those three characteristics:
i. Soviet Union: Esav’s Arrogance The arrogance of Esav is summed up in what was Soviet Russia. Russia was Christian under the Russian Orthodox Church until Russia became Communistic for seventy years. The arrogance of Esav was so terrible that G-d only allowed such arrogance to exist there for seventy years, but notice how much harm they managed to do in that short time.
ii. Europe: Esav’s Fraud The fraud of Esav is Europe. Europe is fundamentally Catholic, and its Christianity, like its pope, is hypocritical. They say one must turn one’s cheek when attacked, but they neglect to mention that it’s your cheek under discussion, not theirs. Christianity is fundamentally a fraudulent religion despite the fact that, as I’ve said elsewhere, it did spread monotheism and messianism. Nevertheless, how many people have been killed, butchered because of Christianity’s demand for conversion?
iii. America: Esav the Pleasure-Seeker The pleasure-seeking attribute of Esav is America. You suggest to a friend to engage in a conversation about philosophy or religion, and that’s fine, but it’s got to be over a fine meal in a good restaurant or bar. America pays lip- service to religion but what it really worships is the “good life,” meaning material wealth. America is the gentlest aspect of Esav, called the “tov sheb’Esav.” Esav observed one mitzvah scrupulously -- “kibud av v’em”--honoring parents. Who originated a Mothers Day and Fathers Day? -- America.
The Divine Presence/Two Attributes: Tiferet and Malchut
Once we understand this, we can now begin to understand America’s role in the Divine Plan. Jewish people have a certain type of trait based on the Divine Presence. The Jewish people are connected to the shekhina-- Divine Presence. It has two attributes: tiferet--beauty and malchut—kingship/sovereignty. Add to these, the traits oze—might/dominion, and chochma---wisdom from studying Torah. Jews tend toward scholastic endeavors. Although Jews value tiferet, it’s interesting that, in exile, they lose this value. They also lose oze; it’s given over to the subjugating nation, the host nation that exiles them and persecutes them. It’s a switch without going into why.
Where do we see this? In the morning prayer “Tachnun,” we read: “How long, how long will Your might be in captivity and Your beauty in the hands of Your enemy?” When G-d frees Jews from captivity, He restores beauty and might to the Jewish people, but first He shakes up the host nation in terms of these two traits.
Shaking Up Tiferet and Malchut on September 11th
On September 11th 2001, what did those Moslems attack other than the Twin Towers? The Pentagon. The Pentagon represents, the “oze,” the might and center of power of America. The World Trade Center represents what? – its tiferet. Beauty can be thought to be the sophistication of a civilization and the World Trade Center was the symbol of that sophistication of American technology, finance, and know-how.
Transference of Power to Subjugate
Why does G-d make sure that this is what Moslems would do? Nothing is by happenstance when you begin to see -- and this is the third dimension -- that the ability of America to subjugate the Jews is being transferred out. By allowing Moslems to destroy the might and beauty of America--at least symbolically--Edom is losing the ability to be a subjugating nation. That’s why those two targets were chosen.
There was another plane. Remember that fourth plane, the one headed to the White House? Why didn’t that plane make it? One can offer these explanations: America saved itself in the last minute. What happened the week before? America walked out of Durban. Even though America supported the United Nations and did terrible things with, and for, Arafat, in the end, America said they would not be party to this recent condemnation. They realized that the whole thing became an anti-Semitic vendetta and that became America’s “zechus”-merit. America did something right even though it had to go against the entire world. G-d said, measure-for-measure, you, America, preserved the dignity of My people therefore I will preserve your dignity -- the White House. That’s the dignity of America, because if the plane would have hit the White House, that would have been the worst thing the western world could contemplate, the worst “korban”--sacrifice America could ever witness.