Wednesday, September 11, 2019

9/11 and Jewish History

The attack on the continental U.S. homeland on September 11, 2001, changed the entire complexion of the United States. Almost 200 years had passed since the last attack on the U.S. homeland in 1812. This is how the “Day of Infamy” became known by its calendrical date: 9/11.

9/11 also has a connection to the date associated with many Jewish national tragedies, which are recalled on Tisha B’Av--the Fast of the 9th of Av.

There is a dispute in the Talmud (Rosh Hashana 10b) how to calculate dates prior to the Exodus, when the Jewish calendar was initiated: Rabbi Eliezer states that the first human was created on the first of Tishrei, while Rabbi Joshua argued that the first human was created on the first day of the month of Nissan. It has been pointed out that while Av is the 5th month of the Jewish calendar beginning with Nissan, the month of Passover--from where the Jewish calendar begins enumerating the months, it is also the 11th month, when counting from Tishrei, the month of Rosh Hashana. That would mean that Tisha B’Av takes place on the 9th day of the 11th month, or 9/11.

But, that’s not all. Kristallnacht, which took place on November 9th, 1938, when listed in the European style --listing the date of the month prior to the month, Kristallnacht took place on 9/11 as well, the ninth day of the eleventh month.

Unfortunately, national holidays in the United States are mostly celebrated as days off, or occasions for clearance sales in the retail world. Imagine if Memorial Day was marked as a full day devoted to remembering the hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops and their families who made the ultimate sacrifice. In Israel, Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day) is a solemn day of retrospection. Imagine if Martin Luther King Jr. Day were a day devoted to service by all citizens. Imagine if July 4th was observed as a day when all Americans contemplated the experiment of our Founders, the virtues of our Constitutional Republic. One prominent Jewish writer suggested that 9/11 be established as a national day of mourning, given the thousands who died that day. All those who have died tragically due to senseless violence, such as the victims of mass shootings or other violence, could also be remembered on such a day.

May the memory of all those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001 be a blessing. May we never forget the evil of that day and those who perished senselessly as its consequence.

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