Rabbi Aybars Reflects on 9/11

Years before 9/11, the Taliban wiped out every relative I had left in Afghanistan. They swept through my father’s village and murdered 6000 men, women, and children in one day. My father told me that they raped and then murdered the women and the children in front of the men. They raped some of the men and also killed them. To other men, they peeled the skin off of them alive until they just died from the agony. To leave a record of their carnage they cut off the hands and feet of a few, and then took their eyes out so this evil was the last thing they saw. They left them with their tongues so that they could tell anyone who might come through who was responsible.  My entire family on my dad’s side, all those who survived the Soviets, were all dead.  

As their evil went unchecked, they and their ally Osama Bin Laden (leader of the global terrorist network Al-Qaeda) hatched a plan to try to cripple the United States by hijacking airplanes and flying them into strategic buildings in NYC and Washington, DC. As planes hit the WTC and the Pentagon, we all watched in horror. Being from New Jersey, I had many friends who lived or worked in NYC. I called family members and friends, trying to see if they were safe. While I personally didn’t lose a loved one, I know many who did.  

As I watched the towers burn from a common room at Princeton University, we all learned that those responsible were Islamofascists. I began to worry about the possibility of backlash against my Muslim parents, so I left work that day to be with my family. (Thankfully, the backlash I feared never came to my family). The horrors that came to my people (my Afghani relatives) became the horrors of many I knew and loved. As I drove past Manhattan on the NJ Turnpike and watched the smoke rise day after day, my past and my present achieved a morbid synchronicity. The smoke was later replaced by two spotlights that were set to shine upward in memoriam of those who had lost their lives. Men, women, children whose lives had been taken without mercy, right here in the USA. Just as they had been taken in my father’s hometown in the mid 1990’s.  

As time has passed, this day has changed from a day of solemn remembrance to a day of joy. My wife Kelly has her birthday on 9/11. Every year, we light candles, eat birthday cake, and give our children too much sugar as they celebrate the birth of their mother!

What a turnaround! Where I once anticipated 9/11 with dread, we are now focused on experiencing joy and blessing! The past hasn’t been forgotten but the day has grown into something more, something better. God has been good to us. He’s given us joy where we once experienced pain. He turned around evil and made it work for our good.

Why did I write all this? It’s simple: because of that last point. God is able to take our negative circumstances, our pasts, our failures, and transform them into powerful blessings. He did it for me and He can do it for you. Call upon the name of Yeshua. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you and He will!

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