It has been 22 years since the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon and the courage of those on Flight 93. It is hard to believe that it is now one generation later; those who were toddlers and those born post-9/11 have no recollection of the tragedy. This year, just like in 2001, it was during the time that we were saying Selichos. If there is any incident which encapsulates the idea that there are no guarantees we will last through the next year, it is 9/11. If you had told someone on September 10 what was going to happen the next day, they would have thought you were crazy. Imagine a small group of individuals hijacking four planes and then bringing down the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.

If you read the 9/11 Commission report, you see so many mistakes and lost opportunities that allowed the terrorists to be successful in their dastardly deed. Air travel was considered safe for years. People don’t go to work and die en masse. There are stories of people who miraculously survived the attack. One of them was a childhood friend of mine who worked on one of the higher floors of the Twin Towers who was fired on September 10. He likely would have died if he had not been fired. Others survived because they came late to work because they said Selichos. There are other stories which went the other way, where someone was supposed to be off and went into work. Only G-d knows why this happened. Nevertheless, we need to learn from this tragedy: We cannot take anything for granted.

Once we have that attitude, then there is a chance we can change. This is the time of year to do so. Also, in order for a person to change, there has to be an admission that there is a need for it. It is hard to do a self-examination. It is much easier to look at someone else.

I have a few suggestions to go through the process. First, try to look at it with a blind test, by not looking at who is doing the action but what is being done and said. It is harder to do so when a person is looking at their own actions. Thus, I would start when comparing actions of others in the political arena. For example, when considering a statement or behavior, don’t consider the political party or political views of the person who is saying it. Just look at the statement. Recently, statements were made by a candidate for president that he would cut off funding for Israel in 2028, and that if Israel and Iran were in a war, the United States would stay out of it. Another person went after the most well-known Jewish organization, claiming that its conduct has caused him 60% in losses and threatening to sue them. He also liked the hashtag @banadl. The entity has millions of followers, including those who write anti-Semitic material, and yet this Jewish organization was singled out with outlandish claims of losses. Moreover, this is occurring during the time of increased anti-Semitism.

Look at the reaction of those who hear the statement. Are those who are anti-Israel and anti-Semitic praising the statement? If so, that should be a red flag that there is something wrong.

Then I would look at nonpolitical statements. How many times have we done the exact thing as another person and justify our conduct and criticize them? If we looked at the action and not the person, we would be more equipped to have an unbiased view. For example, if someone attacked us and bad-mouthed us publicly, we would be upset and say that this is improper, yet it seems okay when we do it to others.

Another gauge as to whether the conduct is proper is to know if the person who is engaging in the conduct is doing anything to hide their identity, including their level of religious observance. There is no question that there are times when a person may not want to draw attention to themselves. The question is, why? If a person wears a baseball cap, is it due to a fear of anti-Semitic comments, protection from the sun, or are they engaging in acts which may not be the right thing for a frum person to do? This applies when we physically change our appearance and also applies when we use an alias. If we think what we are writing is proper in content and in tone, then why are we using an alias? The fact that an alias is being used is to protect people from learning who we are.

Very few people think that they are perfect. However, they give various justifications for not changing. “It is too hard to change,” “I’m too old to change,” or, “I’ve tried it before, and it has not worked.”

One of the mistakes many people make is to try to do too much too quickly. I would give a baseball analogy. You usually score more runs with four singles than you do with a home run and three outs. People are looking for the home run because it makes a big splash. However, small increments are better. Instead of thinking big, think small. Make a series of small changes. For example, if you waste three hours a day on your computer, cut down your screen time by fifteen minutes a day. When you have been able to go down fifteen minutes consistently, then try another fifteen minutes.

Another tactic is to attack the messenger, saying, “Who are you to tell me what to do? Look at yourself.” None of us is perfect. This year, we have another opportunity to improve our midos, grow in our Torah observance, and become closer to Hashem.

Have a shanah tovah.

Warren S. Hecht is a local attorney. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.