I went outside after shul this morning - I daven in a hashkamah (early) minyan - and I felt transported back to the morning of September 11, 2001. Today was a warm, sunny day with few clouds in the sky, just like it was twenty years ago. Then a little after 9:00 a.m., I felt a sense of sadness overcome me. I realized this was the time the second tower was hit.

The dispute over mask mandates and vaccine requirements is an example of a fundamental debate that is going on in this country. Which is paramount: an individual’s right to choose or the government acting on behalf of the society at large? The answer should depend on the situation. When the behavior only affects the person engaging in the conduct, that is the strongest argument that an individual’s right to choose should be unfettered. There are exceptions to this rule where government has the right to regulate it. For example, the seat belt law applies even when a person is driving alone. Also, possession of narcotics is prohibited under the penal law even if the person only plans to use it for themselves.

We hear, read, and say it every year on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur: Repentance, prayer, and charity change the decree to a positive ending. It sounds like an easy task, yet every year we fall short of our goal.

By the time this article is published, the Taliban will be fully in control of Afghanistan. In Washington, D.C., there will be the blame game; indeed, there is plenty to go around. However, I want to focus on the current president, Biden, and the former president, Trump.

Some weeks it’s hard to figure out what I should write about. This week is not one of them. There is plenty to write about, such as the situation in Afghanistan, my first Mets game since the pandemic began, or the Five Boro Bike Tour. However, I will not cover any of those. Instead, I will give a New Year’s message. In the secular New Year, people look back at what happened globally. For us, the focus is on the individual.

In last week’s edition of the Queens Jewish Link, there were six letters to the editor responding to columns I had written. What this tells me is I am picking topics that people are interested in and make efforts to send in responses. I know it is not an easy choice to decide to respond. People who have told me that they are afraid to write anything in because they are afraid of a backlash. Therefore, a person who puts their name on a letter to the editor knows that they could be subject to a negative response in the paper or in person. They write because they feel it’s necessary. I respect them. The only ones I don’t respect are individuals who frequently use either initials or a nom de plume to voice their opinions. If you don’t have the guts to use your real name, then you shouldn’t be writing.