The anniversary of the creation of the world celebrated on Rosh Hashanah, coupled with the first anniversary of September 11, ought to serve as an urgent call for the Jewish people to reclaim its mission statement articulated at the moment our faith was born, 3800 years ago.

How did the Jewish faith come into existence?

The Midrash describes the birth of Judaism with the following cryptic parable:

"And G‑d said to Abraham: 'Go from your land, your birthplace, and your father's house...'" (Genesis12:2) — To what may this be compared? To a man who was traveling from place to place when he saw a palace in flames. He wondered: "Is it possible that the palace has no owner?" The owner of the palace looked out and said, "I am the owner of the palace." So Abraham our father said, "Is it possible that the world lacks a ruler?" G‑d looked out and said to him, "I am the ruler, the Sovereign of the universe."

Abraham's bewilderment is clear. This sensitive human being gazes at a brilliantly structured universe, a splendid piece of art. He is overwhelmed by the grandeur of a sunset and by the miracle of childbirth; he marvels at the roaring ocean waves and at the silent, steady beat of the human heart. The world is indeed a palace.

But the palace is in flames. The world is full of bloodshed, injustice and strife. Thugs, abusers, rapists, kidnappers and killers are continuously demolishing the palace, turning our world into an ugly tragic battlefield of untold pain and horror.

What happened to the owner of the palace? Abraham cries. Why does G‑d allow man to destroy His world? Why does He permit such a beautiful palace to go up in flames? Could G‑d have made a world only to abandon it? Would anyone build a palace and then desert it?

The Midrash records G‑d's reply: "The owner of the palace looked out and said: 'I am the owner of the palace.' G‑d looked out and said to Abraham: 'I am the ruler, the Sovereign of the universe.'"

What is the meaning of G‑d's response?

Note that the owner of the palace does not make an attempt to get out of the burning building or to extinguish the flames. He is merely stating that He is the owner of the palace that is going up in smoke. It is as if, instead of racing out, the owner were calling for help. G‑d made the palace, man set it on fire, and only man can put out the flames. Abraham asks G‑d, "Where are you?" G‑d replies, "I am here, where are you?" Man asks G‑d, "Why did You abandon the world?" G‑d asks man, "Why did you abandon Me?"

Thus began the revolution of Judaism --- humanity's courageous venture to extinguish the flames of immorality and bloodshed and restore the world to the harmonious and sacred palace it was intended to be. Abraham's encounter with G‑d in the presence of a burning palace gave birth to the mission statement of Judaism - to be obsessed with good and horrified by evil. (Midrash Rabbah Bereishit 39:1; as interpreted by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in Radical Then, Radical Now, Harper Collins, 2000).

One year ago, on September 11, 2001, we, too witnessed a palace going up in flames. I will never forget that Tuesday morning standing on the roof of my Synagogue in Brooklyn, gazing in disbelief at the horror of our lifetime.

Yet, I believe that by forgetting the conversation between Abraham and G‑d, 3800 years ago, we failed to do our part in the protection of the destroyed palace.

For too long, many Jews have succumbed to the lure of the modern popular notion that there is no such thing as absolute evil behavior. "Thou shall not judge," has become the cherished motto of our times. We have been taught to rather understand the underlying frustrations compelling the aggressor to follow his extreme route.

This "sophisticated" and "open-minded" point of view has allowed many of us to sustain an ethos of boundless tolerance, accepting all forms of behavior as just, since at the core of every mean act lies a crying heart.

Few ideas have been rejected in Judaism with so much passion, because the refusal to take a stand against what is wrong, will result in wrong's victory. For example, a non-judgmental view of a suicide bomber may appeal to our sense of compassion and understanding. Yet in reality it assists the "frustrated activists" in their continuous slaughter of innocent victims.

Judaism, in its impassioned attempt to turn the world into an exquisite palace, created absolute universal standards for good and evil. These standards are defined by the Creator of the universe and are articulated in His manual for human living, the Torah. Taking the life of an innocent person is evil. No 'if's, 'but's or 'why's. The killer may be badly hurting, but that never justifies the act of murdering an innocent human being.

Have we lost sight of our mission statement crafted by Abraham and G‑d on that fateful day thousands of years ago? For six years the Jewish State has displayed extraordinary tolerance towards terrorists and their assistants. The result of this moral confusion is devastating: Thousands of innocent Jews and Arabs are now dead, and terrorists the world over have learned that they can continue their despicable work without serious consequences.

Good people of the world are waiting to be inspired by our four-millennia long heritage of standing up to evil and banishing it from G‑d's palace.