I just watched my brother Eddie Rosenstein’s, award-winning documentary film “Boatlift” about 9-11 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eddie-rosenstein/tom-hanks-narrates-boatlift_b_956529.html. Incredible. Speechless. Tear-jerking. I am still crying. This guy Vincent with his boat Amberjack said it all. As I paraphrase, “I have got to go and help. And no one is going to stop me” “And I tell my children as well, if there is something that you need to do before you die, do it. Otherwise, you will be sorry.” Another boat captain said, “This was the greatest day of my life.”
On September 11, 2001, the US and the world got clobbered. Evil rose its hoary head. Thousands died, thousands were severely injured, millions gravely effected. The enemies rejoiced. Gaza was dancing. Our false feeling of security came crumbling beneath us. The world was no longer such a safe and secure place anymore.
The 12 minute documentary, Boatlift depicts, vividly, how the greatest boatlift rescue of world history took place; when half a million people were rescued from fear and destruction in merely nine hours. The boatlift rescue of Normandy rescued over three hundred thousand in the coarse of nine days. On 9-11, ordinary people rose to the call of duty and became heroes, giving of their heart and soul. They came to rescue on mass, breaking the rule books, to do what had to be done: to save lives and rescue innocent victims.
We are two and a half weeks before Rosh Hashana, the Day of Judgement, when we rededicate ourselves to doing what we need to do. The day when we realize that we are not just ordinary people, none of us. We are princes and princesses of the King of all Kings. Rosh Hashana is the birthday of the world. The day that Adam was created and charged with doing G-d’s will and work in this world. Rosh Hashana is the day when we and the whole world are being judged for life and for death (spiritual life and death), health or sickness, wealth or poverty. It is a day of true connection and reflection of where we are holding in our lives and where we place G-d in the pecking order of our priorities. Rosh Hashana is when we can rise to the level of heroes to dedicate ourselves to the triumph of good over evil, which is the deeper meaning of the Shofar blast according to seventeenth century kabbalist Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato.
I think we all realize that G-d is trying to tell us something, something very important and very personal. I think we all are starting to get the message that this world is not what we thought is was. We thought that you just need to follow the rules and all is good. Go to college, get a nice profession, raise a nice family, and be kind and good to others. Then the rest is for me. I can now enjoy a good, comfortable, pleasurable life.
But it ain’t working so well. 9/11. Terrorism. Recession. Crazy weather and crazy economy. Hurricanes. Earthquakes. Messed up kids and messed up families. More terrorist attacks. Anti-semitism is back. Europe is infested with it. The UN is clearly against Israel. The US is teetering in it’s loyalty with Israel.
This Rosh Hashana can be different. This Rosh Hashana, I will make it different. I will not just be an ordinary Joe. I will realize that the world is on “fire”, that the world is suffering from greed, selfishness, and hatred. This year I will love my fellow man more; I will love my fellow Jew as my brother and sister. I will realize that Jews have a special calling and a special mission. I will learn as much about G-d and His will as possible by learning Torah. I will try to become the best person that I can be to become more G-dlike, to think, feel and act more in the image of which I was created: in the image of G-d.
At Judaism1on1.com, we are here to provide you with meaning and wisdom to learn from the circumstances around us and prepare for the New Year. May we all be written and sealed in the true Book of Life.
Ketiva v’chatima tova,
Rabbi Yaakov Rosenstein
Founder and Director of Judaism1on1.com