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Today the World Trembles- Today the World is Born

by Rabbi Simon Jacobson


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He [Ishmael] will be a wild man. His hand will be against everyone, and everyone’s hand will be against him1

Why is he called Ishmael? Because in the future G-d will listen to the cry of the nation for what the children of Ishmael will do in the future, at the end of days… as it says2   ‘G-d will listen and answer’ .3

The King of Poros (Persia) will bring destruction to the entire world, and all the nations will be outraged and confused… and Jews will be outraged and confused, and they will say: where shall we come and go, where shall we come and go? G-d will answer them: My children, do not be afraid. Everything I have done, I have done for you . Why are you afraid. Do not fear, the time of your Redemption has arrived…4

Three chaotic wars will be perpetrated by the children of Ishmael at the end of days… one at sea… one on land… and one in a large city which will be harder than the previous two… and from there Ben Dovid [Moshiach] will sprout and we will witness their destruction, and from there we will go to Eretz Yisroel 5

The world has trembled and we are all traumatized.

As Jews who have seen the abyss and not only survived but flourished, we are behooved to lead and show the way to deal with horror and grow through the process. To shine a light even in the darkest of times. To face horrendous loss with dignity, to feel the pain of so many and not become demoralized. To stand up and defend our cherished beliefs, with a sober look at the evil without being consumed by it.

How do we transform the world’s tremble – the tremble of the World Trade Center – into the world’s birth?

When circumstances are so overwhelming, we must turn to forces beyond our own limited minds and experiences. We must access our inner faith, as one terrorist attack survivor said: “You appreciate faith when you have nothing else besides faith.” Torah offers us a Divine blueprint for life both in times of normalcy and definitely when life becomes unbearably unimaginable. Looking into Torah helps us rise above the paralyzing emotions and utter confusion; it gives us a broader view and helps us put things into perspective. Above all, it allows us the dignity to cease being victims, to realize that though we cannot fathom these events, we have the power to do something about it. We may never know why senseless tragedy strikes yet we have the strength and aplomb to forge ahead.

Our hearts, condolences and prayers go out to all the families that have directly suffered as a result of this calamity. This is not only THEIR pain, it is OUR pain. We have been reminded as never before that we are one people, one organism, and we all share in this catastrophe.

This atrocity was perpetrated not just against some individuals, it is directed against all New Yorkers, Americans and the entire human race, regardless of race, color or religion – black or white, Jew, Moslem or Christian, man or woman, west or east. All of us are children of G-d, and the loss of one child irreversibly affects the entire family.

Let us join together in spiritual introspection, in Torah study, prayer and charity as one united voice of strength and support for all our friends, and against all the enemies of humanity.


As good people we find mad terrorism inconceivable. That is a tribute to our morality. But also to our naivety. We have now stared evil in the face. Our shock and trauma is not only about the enormous loss of life and the sheer unbelievable fact that the two towers of the World Trade Center – symbol of the free world – have been flattened. The trauma is much deeper: we have looked evil in the eye, something we have never seen before, and we are numb with shock…

Unprovoked – not in the middle of a war, not on a battlefield – our city has been attacked, thousands of innocent people killed, and we still have no inkling why. Why were we targeted? Why would some madman go to such lengths to destroy our two great structures? How has it threatened them and what do they stand to gain? I cry with America. Cry for a nation that has been so benevolent and charitable, and suddenly so viciously attacked with such blind hatred… As good people we ask why? And this big unanswered “why” is because we have seen for the first time naked evil – evil that has no purpose except destruction. And that utterly shocks and shakes up all good people. That serves homage to our virtue.


  • 1. Genesis 16:12.
  • 2. Psalms 55:20.
  • 3. Midrash Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer ch. 32. Yalkut Mechiri Psalms 177.
  • 4. Midrash, Yalkut, Isaiah remez 499.
  • 5. Midrash ibid, remez 506.


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Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
The Messiah. Moshiach is the person who will usher in an era of peace and tranquility for all of humanity when there will be no jealousy or hate, wars or famine. This is a fundamental Jewish belief.
Rosh Hashanah
The Jewish New Year. An early autumn two day holiday marking the creation of Adam and Eve. On this day we hear the blasts of the ram's horn and accept G-d's sovereignty upon ourselves and the world. On Rosh Hashanah we pray that G-d should grant us all a sweet New Year.
The most basic work of Jewish mysticism. Authored by Rabbi Shimeon bar Yochai in the 2nd century.
(Pl. Midrashim). Non-legal material of anecdotal or allegorical nature, designed either to clarify historical material, or to teach a moral point. The Midrashim were compiled by the sages who authored the Mishna and Talmud (200 BCE-500 CE).
Son of the Patriarch Abraham and half-brother of Patriarch Isaac. Ancestor of many Arab tribes.
Established by King David to be the eternal capital of Israel. Both Temples were built there, and the third Temple will be situated there when the Messiah comes.
Torah Portion
The Five Books of Moses are divided into 54 portions. Every Sabbath morning we read one portion. Several weeks during the year a double portion is read, in order to accommodate the Torah's completion on the Simchat Torah holiday.
The Book of Psalms. One of the 24 books of the Bible. Compiled by King David; mostly comprised of poetic praise for G-d. A large part of our prayers are culled from this book.
1. A Jerusalemite exiled in Babylon after the destruction of the 1st Temple. He interprets dreams, gives accounts of apocalyptic visions, and is divinely delivered from a den of lions. 2. One of the 24 Books of the Bible, which describes the events of Daniel's life.
Acronym for Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, widely known as Maimonides. Born in Spain in 1135, died in Egypt in 1204. Noted philosopher and authority on Jewish law. Also was an accomplished physician and was the personal doctor for members of the Egyptian royalty. Interred in Tiberius, Israel.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.