September 17, 2001

Standing only a few hours before Rosh Hashanah, when we pray to G‑d to demonstrate His mercy to the entire world, please allow me to share with you some reflections about the recent events that have so affected us.

We all look for consolation, and we seek to console. But the sheer enormity of the evil we just experienced is so hideous, so repellent, we’re left with no words.

Of course, we stand behind our military, our intelligence agencies and our elected leaders in their efforts to eradicate this evil.

But we shy away from personally looking this evil straight in the eye; we shrink from taking it on. Timidly, we prod and encourage each other to “return to normal life.”

For how could anyone of us purport to combat something so grotesque and so awesome?

I’d like to propose, though, that we can and need to do just that.

Much has been written about the motivation, the conditioning, the bloodcurdling ruthlessness, the precision of last week’s crimes against humanity.

All accounts and hypotheses point to the same simple truth. The primary motivation, the underlying force behind every action executed by last week’s murderers was: hatred.

Pure, unbridled, blind, indiscriminate Hatred. Hatred of freedom, hatred of democracy, hatred of “infidels,” hatred of Jews, hatred of anything and everything besides the murderers themselves. Wanton, simple hatred.

It is this that we must combat. It is this that we must eradicate.

What is the remedy to wanton hatred? The Lubavitcher Rebbe of righteous memory answered this many times, with clarity and certitude: Wanton love.

Raw, cold-blooded, fanatical, baseless, relentless hatred can be matched and combated only with pure, undiscriminating, uninhibited, unyielding, baseless, unsolicited love and acts of kindness.

But we need not just plain love. We need love that costs us. Love for which we get nothing back.

The barbarians willingly gave up their lives to sow their hatred. We need to be willing to lose sleep, to suffer losses, to be uncomfortable, to sacrifice our pleasures, in order to help another human being—with at least the precision, determination and passion that evil’s compatriots of last week employed to fulfill their mission of hate.

Every one of us can make a difference.

The Rebbe would always quote the Maimonidean adage: Each person should see himself as though the entire world is on a delicate balance, and with one deed, he or she can tip the scales.

Only a few handfuls of terrorists turned our world upside down. Let us not underestimate the power of each of us to turn it upright again.

Every good act, every expression of kindness and love, will be a thousand antibodies to neutralize the viruses put in place by the forces of evil.

In response to darkness, we will fill the earth with light. To defeat evil, we will saturate our globe with good.

And when we do our part, G‑d will surely do His part to protect us and transform our world into the one we all hope and yearn for, one that will be filled with His glory, like the waters fill the ocean.