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August 5, 2015 / 20 Av, 5775
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When the 21st Century Began

When the 21st Century Began

Photo Credit: 9/11 photos

Right then and there, in New York City on September 11, 2001, on what was supposed to be just another boring election day Tuesday, vaguely around Rosh Hashanah, we entered the third millenium in earnest. We moved from the era of post-WW2 to the era of Science Fiction. Since then, in cities all over the globe, east and west hemispheres, north and south hemispheres, up and down hemispheres, buildings get blown up, hundreds lose their lives in a single explosion, millions escape to refugee camps, choppers land, guns blazing, supersonic attack planes show up over people’s backyards, civilians are blasted with poisonous gas, thousands are detained, cuffed and disappeared right where pink skinned children are boarding school buses, rights are eliminated, police spray faces with pepper spray, banks walk away with your money, and everything you know is wrong.

The Mishna reports a similar sense of the passing of one epoch and the arrival of another:

When R. Meir died, the composers of fables ceased. When Ben Azzai died, the assiduous students [of torah] ceased. When Ben Zoma died, the expositors ceased. When R. Akiba died, the glory of the torah ceased. When R. Hanina b. Dosa died, men of deed ceased. When R. Yosse Ketanta died, the pious men ceased; and why was his name called Ketanta? because he was the youngest of the pious men. When R. Johanan b. Zakkai died, the luster of wisdom ceased. When Rabban Gamaliel the elder died, the glory of the torah ceased, and purity and abnegation perished. When R. Ishmael b. Fabi died, the luster of the priesthood ceased. When Rebbi died, humility and fear of sin ceased. R. Phineas b. Yair says: When [the second] Temple was destroyed, scholars and noblemen were ashamed and covered their head, men of deed were disregarded, and men of arm and men of tongue grew powerful. Nobody enquires, nobody prays [on their behalf], and nobody asks. Upon whom is it for us to rely? Upon our Father who is in Heaven.

(Sotah, 49:a, Soncino translation)

That last one, with relying on our Father in Heaven as the only reasonable answer, still works today.

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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