In this past few years, words have become very important. In truth, words are all we've ever had. But in light of the reactions and responses to what today is known simply as "9/11", finding the right words has proven to be quite a challenge.

On that horrible morning we heard words like "criminals" and "madman". Toward the end of the day, the attitude and language began to shift. The word "evil" was being used. That was a positive change.

The good news is that there is a moral nerve, a moral sensitivity that Americans are revealing that is real and strong.

On most subjects Americans are morally confused. However, when we see something that is clearly evil, America has no tolerance for it. By the same token, when we see something that is clearly good, America honors it. So when the word "evil" was introduced into the discussions of 9/11, that showed that we had moved toward something good — moral clarity.

That's one word that was important to add.

There are other words that are important to delete. One example is the word "terrorism".

If our response is to be a moral one, if we are to become better people, if something positive is to come of all this, then we mustn't categorize it as terrorism. It's the wrong word. There is no one in the world that teaches his or her children to believe in terrorism. In fact, there really is no such thing. There is communism. There is socialism. There are beliefs, religions, political systems, and philosophies. These are the "isms." Terror is nothing more than a tool used to enforce them. This point was illustrated by the kinds of people and nations that joined the "Coalition against terror." Even Arafat was "fighting terror."

The truth is that this has been a catastrophe in the waiting for the past 2,000 years. We have acquired too many "isms". And many people with many "isms" will inevitably cause a war. The bigger the numbers, the bigger the war.

We all heard interviews with representatives of Moslem groups. We heard them condemn what happened. But when asked, "Are the people who did this going to Heaven or Hell?" They couldn't answer.

As long as we are labeling what happened as "terrorism," anyone can condemn — even those who agreed with the perpetrators.

There is another word that needs to go — "Fanatics". And by the same token, "extremist". Both very useless words. If your cause is just, if you are on the right side, what is wrong with being an extremist? Is there really too much of a good thing? Have you had too much of a good thing lately?

If something is good, how does more make it bad? More should be better. Do we spoil our children with too much love? (Sometimes we use the phrase "too much love" when we mean "not enough discipline." Actually, inadequate discipline is usually a sign of not enough love.) How about too much money? A lot of money is only bad if that's all you have.

So why are we condemning fanaticism? That which is wrong in big scale is wrong in the small scale. It may not be as detrimental but it is equally wrong. We need to get to the root of the problem, to the moral issue that separates the good from the bad.

Since World War II we have not been faced with such a monumental issue of morality on which the world was divided. Just as President Bush said, "You are either with us or with them. There are two sides to this issue. And G‑d is not neutral on the subject."

So let's not talk about "terrorism" — there is no such ism. Let's not condemn "fanatics" and "extremists", that serves only to distract us from the heart of the matter. Rather, let's talk about the root, the subtle beginnings of this evil.

The subtle beginning of this evil is the belief that when you die you go to a better place. That is Evil. It may sound noble, spiritual, heavenly, religious and comforting. It also causes these believers to fly airplanes into large buildings.

What about the virtues of martyrdom? Isn't this a noble act?

Of course this was not noble and it was not martyrdom. When I trade in my old car for a newer model, is that an act of self-sacrifice? If you give up your life because you believe that you will get a better one, is that martyrdom or just plain narcissism? Or perhaps the worst possible form of narcissism.

True martyrdom is when you give up your life precisely because life on earth is important enough and necessary enough to give up your own life for it. Is Heaven a better place? The answer must be "No." Easier? Yes. Better? No.

We want to remain on earth because this is where we serve G‑d. This is where we make a difference. The belief that heaven is a better place is an evil and it leads to unthinkable horrors.

G‑d wants a world of people diverse in culture, in style, in appetite, in opinion — maybe even in religion; but not in morality. There cannot and may not be two moralities. This is what we mean when we say, "G‑d is one."

We've all had such a moment of clarity on September 11. Look how easily and spontaneously the word "G‑d" came to everyone's lips. Would you have expected this? In this secular, materialistic, assimilated community, the word G‑d came most naturally to our lips. Not any religion-specific deity, savior or prophet, but simply G‑d. And why did that happen? Because we saw beyond "religion" and "secularism." We weren't thinking about heaven, but about good and evil.

You can have two of everything else and it's okay. Have two religions or five or fifty. Have sixty different versions of heaven. Pray twice a day or five times. On a carpet, on your knees, standing up. Whatever. But when it comes to morality there is only one G‑d.

You don't want to eat fish on Friday or work on Sunday? Gezunterheit. As long as the diversity doesn't include differences of opinion on "Thou shall not kill."

When we all agree on the definition of that one commandment, then and only then will there be peace in the world.

So just at the point in history when we thought that G‑d and faith had finally become irrelevant, it turns out that the non-believers are unimportant (or not pertinent). Because if you believe that G‑d wants you to kill, then your are one of the bad guys. If you believe that G‑d doesn't want you to kill, then you are one of the good guys. If you don't believe you don't make a difference.

Now, that we realize that commandments are indispensable, we should take another look at them all. Is honoring my parents negotiable? Is giving charity optional? Or are they essential to civilization itself?

On Rosh Hashanah, the anniversary of the creation of the world, when we wish each other a good year, do we mean good as in successful, or good as in moral? Or, are they in fact one and the same?