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    Succos and a Look Back at 9/11

    The Yom Tov of Succos is upon us. All over the globe, Klal Yisroel sits under the schach and reflects back to over 3000 years ago when Hashem protected us from hunger, certain dehydration, and the night time frost in the wastelands of the desert. We remember Hashem’s constant Presence manifested in the Ananei HaKavod, the Clouds of Glory, which cloaked us lovingly for almost forty years. This look back is an exercise in sharpening our awareness that Hashem’s presence is always above us whether or not we can see Ananei Hakavod.

    Recently, the entire world took its annual sober look back at a much more recent event: the horrific tragedy of 9/11. As Torah Jews, we saw the Hand of Hashem in that sad drama as well. Firstly, in the manifestation of “Hinei lo yanum v’lo yishan, Shomer Yisroel – He [Hashem] does not sleep nor slumber, the Guardian of Yisroel” as hundreds of Jews were saved from a terrible fate on that tragic day. Whether they were still at selichos, reviewing a Daf, getting off a plane to retrieve tefillin, had just lost their job, and even being pulled down moments before to meet a shidduch, the stories are numerous and awesome.

    But Succos teaches us that everything is being directed by Hashem. Let me share with you, as we remember that terrible day, the powerful biblical prophecy concerning 9/11 that is apparent in Parshas Ki Savo, the parsha that was read the week of disaster. The Torah states in the tochacha, “Yisa Hashem alecha goy marachok – Hashem will bring up upon you a nation from the distance; Miktzei haaretz – From the other end of the world. [A]sher lo sishma l’shono – [A nation] that you did not understand its language.” In the post-9/11 analyses, it was discovered that the intelligence agencies such as Interpol, the CIA, and numerous others, did not have advance information about the terrorist cells involved in the attack because they did not have enough cryptographers that were experts in Arabic.

    Then, the pasuk continues, “Goy az panim asher lo yisa panim lazakein v’naar lo yachon – An impudent nation which has no respect for the elderly nor is it compassionate to the youth.” This is a perfect description of the homicidal terrorists who did not think twice about blowing up mothers with their baby carriages or maiming the elderly. The prophecy then reaches a crescendo, “Ad redes chomosayich hagvaos vihabetzuros asher atah botei-ach bahem bichol artzecha – Until there will come down your towers, those that are most high and fortified, in which you have complete faith in all of your land.” Our faith in the indestructibility of the Twin Towers was absolute and the emphasis in the pasuk of in all your land is quite suitable for buildings named the ‘World’ Trade Center. “Vehaitzar licha b’chol shaarecha – And the enemy will oppress you in all your gateways.” The modern day gateways are airports, bridges and tunnels and after 9/11 all of these were totally shutdown.

    Finally, the pasuk completely blows us away with the statement that the enemy will come “Ka-asher yideh hanesher – Like the eagle sweeps,” a perfect description of the sudden attack of two widespread huge airliners. Instead of the more frequently used word, yauf, to fly, the word used for the flying of the eagle is a very rare word, yideh. This word, yideh, is not used any other time in the entire Torah. It is made up of the letters, yud-daled-alef-hei. Amazingly, in gematria, daled plus hei equal nine, while yud and alef equal eleven. Thus, the word yideh is exactly 9/11.

    I discovered something further. In the difficult gematria known as At-Bash, where aleph equals taf, beis equals shin, and so on, the word yideh is calculated as follows. The letter yud equals mem, daled equals kuf, alef equals taf, and hei equals tzadik. These letters combined, mem-kuf-taf-tzadik, spell out the words keitz meis, which means “an appointed time to die.”

    So as we look back through the millennium, when we gaze at our schach, we should realize that we don’t need to look back far at all to see the obvious, ever-present Presence of Hashem in all of our lives. May this boost our Yiras Shamayim, and in that merit may Hashem grant us a joyous Succos, with good health, happiness, and everything wonderful.