No. 32: Yom Kippur, 9/11, and the Mistakes of the Past

The following is a transcript of Episode 32 of the For Heaven’s Sake Podcast. Note: This is a lightly edited transcript of a conversation, please excuse any errors.

Donniel Hartman:
Hello. My name is Donniel Hartman and I’m the president of the Shalom Hartman Institute. Today is September 10th, 2021. And this is For Heaven’s Sake, a podcast from the Hartman Institute’s iEngage project. Our theme for today is Yom Kippוr and 9/11. In each edition of For Heaven’s Sake, Yossi Klein Halevi senior research fellow at the Institute here in Jerusalem and myself discuss a current issue central to Israel and the Jewish world. And then Elana Stein Hain director of the Hartman faculty in North America explores with us how classical Jewish sources can enrich our understanding of the issue. Let’s begin.

Donniel Hartman:
Yom Kippur is the ultimate expression of the belief that as human beings, we are endowed with free will, with the freedom to shape our lives, to transcend past mistakes and build a better future. Its premise is that reality is not immutable. That human beings are not innately evil. That if we pay attention to our actions and their consequences and resolve to do better, we can change our destiny.

Donniel Hartman:
The process of repentance is the opposite of anguished self-flagellation. It is a process of self-empowerment of learning from the past so that you can move forward towards who you imagine your highest self to be. Our challenge is to use this gift of Yom Kippur as a lens on our lives, both as individuals and as societies. As we look to our individual and collective past, it is not about blaming ourselves or others. It’s not about being a Monday morning quarterback. Mistakes are inevitable. The purpose of looking back is not to try to replay the past or judge, but to try to learn from it and grow. Yom Kippur challenges us to ask a simple question: What can we learn? This year The Yamim Noraim, the Days of Awe, coincide with America’s own day of awe: the 20th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. In this podcast, we want to turn the lens of Yom Kippur on 9/11 itself. How did 9/11 change us and our world? What have we learned from the experience? What should we learn as we recall the terrible day and it’s complicated aftermath. Yossi, it’s nice to see you again and Shana Tova.

Yossi Klein Halevi:
Shana Tova, Donniel. Good to be with you.

Donniel Hartman:
Nice to be with you. Let’s go back from 2021, 9/11 was a catalyst for so much change. As we stand on the Eve of Yom Kippur and look back. What do you think about?

Yossi Klein Halevi:
You know, Donniel, when I was listening to your opening, I realized that you’re presenting us with a very tall order to look back on 9/11, assess the last two decades, and to do so without judgment. It’s really difficult because if you listen to the discourse today, people are divided along one of two judgments. The first judgment is that America overreacted overreached, and that was the sin of hubris. The second judgment, from the other camp, is that America runaway with its tail, between its legs, it left the field of battle and surrender edto evil. And so here we are on the 20th anniversary of 9/11 coinciding with the Yamim Noraim. And what we’re all doing is the opposite of what you’re asking us to do. We’re all making judgments. And I am too. And I don’t know how not to, so maybe you can play out a little bit more, how you’re approaching this.

Donniel Hartman:
My greatest yearning in life, besides happiness and health for me and mine and those around me is to be a human being, is to aspire, to live a life of meaning. And for me, Yom Kippur is an unbelievable gift because it pushes me and it pushes me away from my mediocrity. And so when I look back at 9/11, I’m not a politician. I want to live a life of meaning, and I want to know what is shaping my life and are there things that are hindering some of it. When I look at 9/11, for example, and I’m not making a historical claim, but for so many of us with 9/11 a war between religions became a dominant part of my consciousness. It wasn’t political anymore. I know it started a little beforehand, but there was a sense in which – initially we called it Islam – And then we learned, we shouldn’t call it Islam. We called it Islamic terror or radical Islam because we didn’t want to generalize.

Yossi Klein Halevi:
Or Islamism

Donniel Hartman:
Or Islamism. Isn’t that, whatever, but that’s such a fine distinction, no one even knows what you really mean. But so it was like, so, but we learned. But there was a sense of a clash of religious civilizations instead of a clash of nations. It was now a clash of theologies and religion. And that became so much of our discourse for two decades. And now in 2021, I asked myself, what’s that helpful? Are we closer to peace? Are we closer to reconciliation? I don’t think so. An example of what I learned is if there is a clash of civilizations, is war the way to give expression to it. And when war does, does it create greater understanding? Is it even possible to defeat another person’s theological worldview through bombs and tanks and drones and troops. Again, zero blame. There’s this thing in our tradition, a beautiful statement.

Donniel Hartman:
I’ll be like Elana right now, staying something first in Hebrew and “ein l’dayan ele mah she einav ro’ot,” “the judge could only see what they could see.” And I could understand at that moment, the shock, the anger, the fear, I’m not judging what anybody decided back then, but 20 years on our world is religiously even more bifurcated. The gaps between Christiandom Judaism, so-called the enlightened religions and Islam on the it’s even greater. Has the Islamic world become more moderate? No. So that means if we realize that we had a problem with Islamic terror, it means that maybe 20 years on, we have to ask ourselves whether war is the way to engage in this. That’s an example, Yossi, of what I mean, just as I sit here right now, I want to be better tomorrow than I am today. That’s what Yom Kippur demands of me.

Donniel Hartman:
And so when I look at 9/11, I see how much of our culture has been shaped by this dominant theological war against Islamism and and radical Islam. And I see that we’re not closer. And you feel that also here very much in Israel, we’re at the tip of the spear. We’re so close. It causes me on this Yom Kippur to ask if I see a failure in somebody else, what’s the best way to engage in changing that failure? And I’m not sure that the 20 years of our experience actually, I’m quite sure that that’s not the way I want to continue for the next 20 years.

Yossi Klein Halevi:
Started to answer your question by noting the two very different responses that are dividing the way people are responding to this moment of a culmination of a process that began 20 years ago.

Donniel Hartman:
The starting of the war in Afghanistan and leaving now Afghanistan.

Yossi Klein Halevi:
Yes. And in a way it’s closing the circle 20 years later. And both of those responses, the accusation of overreach, and the accusation of fleeing the battle against evil resonate deeply with me. And I think that there’s truth in both of those insights. And I see both of these responses through an Israeli lens. I know that you do too. The first in terms of overreach brings me back to Lebanon 1982, that was a very impactful war for both of us. You fought in that war. And I moved to Israel that summer, that war shaped both of us. And I think in similar ways, it shaped Israeli society with a realization that a democratic society will only fight a war that it believes is just, we’ll only see through a war that it is convinced it has no alternative, but to fight. And we’ve, we’ve talked about this before.

Yossi Klein Halevi:
And so the first sin, the mistake, the wrong turn of the successive of American administrations was overreach was to try to fight too many wars to try to place too much of a burden on American society and Americans understandably revolted. And I think very much about the difference between the war in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq, and I don’t usually quote the wit and wisdom of Obama. Nevertheless, I think that the distinction that he made between Afghanistan as a necessary war an unavoidable war and the war in Iraq as a war by choice to use Israeli language was very useful. So the sin of overreach led to the second sin, which was surrendering to evil. And here I feel that the deep values that should have motivated America, one was the war against evil, the necessity of fighting evil. And I would frame this in terms of Tikkun Olam, my understanding of Tikun Olam. And again, you and I have talked about this in the past is a very Israeli understanding of Tikkun Olam. Tikkun Olam is two things it’s making the world a better place. It’s augmenting the good, but it’s also fighting the bad. When you commit the sin of overreach, you will commit a second sin of retreating in the face of evil. And so we ended up 20 years after 9/11, with the worst of both worlds, the sin of overreach and the sin of surrender to evil.

Donniel Hartman:
One of the other features that you’re speaking about is really the notion of nation-building or reconstructing, fixing someone else’s society for their own sake. And you use the category of Tikkun Olam, which is really important because when I look back these 20 years, I have a really deep ambivalence. On the one hand, I believe that it is the responsibility of a moral nation to fight extreme evil. What’s the line between extreme evil and being the police force of the world is a line, but extreme cases of evil. That’s the whole Nazi Germany, radical terrorists Islam in Afghanistan and the oppression and South Africa, when evil emerges, you’re called upon to stand up and say, hineni, I’m here. I think it was when president Trump said values are not part of our foreign policy anymore. We’re not worried about your values. Really? The world is a better place because of America, but you’re right it was an overreach.

Donniel Hartman:
But the instinct I understood now, what’s interesting is that very often, when you first go to war, you don’t go to war because of the moral vision, you’ll have to couch it in self-defense categories. It starts as an act of self-defense and then it becomes a nation rebuilding process. What we’ve learned is that nation-building just very rarely works. You can build it for somebody. You could spend $2 trillion, armed them to kazoo, but if they’re not going to hold the arms or fire that they walked away. And so there’s a humility which has to accompany Tikkun Olam. That’s why very often I get very frightened by Tikkun Olam. I like repair your neighborhood, you know, repair your yourself. But at the same time, I love the fact that there’s somebody in the world who would ask themselves that question, that if evil arises somewhere, they’re my enemy and the women of Afghanistan, the citizens who are terrorized and tortured that somebody stands up for them and doesn’t turn their back. We, we were there, Yossi. That’s the essence of you. Your whole being was defined by that. I don’t just don’t think we know how to do it. You know, there’s this famous line from you who Yehuda Halevi, “your intentions were correct, but your actions were less so.” How does that resonate with you?

Yossi Klein Halevi:
Well, I really appreciate the Yom Kippur nature of this conversation, the internalizing of the argument and not giving yourself the easy way out. In other words, my political instinct at this moment is to be horrified, unqualified horror that on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, America has allowed the jihadists their first victory since 9/11. That’s how America is marking 9/11. And that wounds me to my core.

Donniel Hartman:
Interesting.

Yossi Klein Halevi:
At the same time, Donniel, at the same time, I have to remember how we got to this point and the camp that I identify with, which is hawkish.

Donniel Hartman:
“ish”

Yossi Klein Halevi:
But now the issue is a funny thing because I’m also Jew-ish. And I don’t – I think I’m pretty serious about being Jewish. So yes, I’m hawkish, but you know, so my natural tendency in the face of evil is to be unqualifiedly hawkish.

Yossi Klein Halevi:
And yet I need the humility that you spoke about to remember, we got to this point where America effectively surrendered to evil in part, because of the camp that I support, that I’m part of the hawkish camp. It was my camp that overreached, the Hawks went one war too far. And Iraq was one war too far. And that came out of a lack of humility. My camp doesn’t have clean hands here either. So when I feel this anguish about surrender to the Taliban and abandoning all of these people who trusted in America, who had a vision of a different way of life, who had hope, who America gave hope to. It’s not only Biden who did this.

Donniel Hartman:
Trump is the one who made that-

Yossi Klein Halevi:
Trump, this moral disaster. And that’s what it is, has many parents. And both camps, the hawks and the doves are midwives of this disaster. And so if we’re speaking in the language of Yom Kippur, it’s a time for each camp to examine itself, to examine some of its basic premises and to rethink how we project ourselves.

Donniel Hartman:
In your spirit, I’m dove-ish. I don’t know I’m an Israeli dove which makes you a dove in Israel and a hawk outside of Israel. But I’m an Israeli dove. I’m a dove with talons. I wonder. What do you think about this, Yossi? So much of 9/11, when I look at the last 20 years, one of the most significant transformations is fear. The introduction of existential personal fear, something that we in Israel have all the time, but that fear descends into the American space. Now, part of it is a blessing because fear is a necessary instinct for survival. I get very frightened when people aren’t frightened from that which they should be frightened, or sometimes the loneliness of being an Israeli is to talk about certain fears that we have. I remember Dore Gold. He was talking, he was the only voice he was talking about radical Islam, the Wahhabi, everybody thought he was a nutcase.

Donniel Hartman:
I don’t know if you remember, he’s talking.

Yossi Klein Halevi:
Sure

Donniel Hartman:
And he was lonely. I give him great credit that, you know, he said, I saw something, oh, you’re, oh, come on. You’re this and everybody – don’t bother us. And so in a certain sense, 9/11, it’s a tragedy. You only realize that tragedy when it affects you. But what happens when that fear is what motivates your so called Tikkun Olam and may be part of what’s happening now, Yossi, is that Americans aren’t that frightened anymore. So if we’re going to stay in Afghanistan for another year, another two years, will America be safer? Maybe what’s changed is the absence of that personal fear which was the motivation for a lot of that ideology. And maybe there is no way, you know, I’m saddened by the personal tragedies. I don’t want to belittle them. I just don’t know any elegant way to exit when you’ve lost. And without the motivation of fear, you know, what am I doing there for another year? It’s going to change. I’m wondering how the fear component, which has become a part of America, but it’s no longer associated with Afghanistan is exposing some of the ideologies, which are supposed to motivate the behavior.

Yossi Klein Halevi:
Very concerned about both the moral consequences and the geopolitical consequences of how America exited Afghanistan. And I deeply deeply disagree with you on this point. I’m looking at this through unavoidably an Israeli lens and thinking about Iran. I’m thinking about what’s sitting on our borders the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Syria and Hezbollah in the north and Hamas to our south. I’ll tell a story. Last week I was walking in my neighborhood and French hill and we were next door to Palestinian village, Isawiyya. And it was Shabbat afternoon. And Sarah and I are walking and a car pulls up next to us, slows down a young man at the wheel calls out in Hebrew. And I didn’t understand that at first, what he was saying. And he was smiling and I asked him to repeat it. And he says, have you heard of Hamas? And I tell them, I say.

Yossi Klein Halevi:
ata yodeah mah zeh hamas?” Do you know what Hamas is?

Yossi Klein Halevi:
And then he says, “Hamas is coming here soon.” And he smiles and he drives slowly away. Now that was the immediate after-effects of the withdrawal. When you retreat in that kind of way, before that kind of evil, it will have consequences. It will have immediate consequences for me in my neighborhood, but I think the consequences will be more far-reaching. And so when one thinks about actions, you need to also take into account the reverberations. How is this going to play out? That’s part of the responsibility of each of us as individuals. It’s also responsibility of leaders and of nations. Think of your actions and think of how it’s going to reverberate beyond the action itself.

Donniel Hartman:
I appreciate it a lot. You’ll see. And I don’t want to belittle, even though I’m dovish, I don’t want to be belittling the consequences. I just – I’m wondering whether there was any way to have ended more elegantly, but that’s, you know, that’s beyond my pay grade. I’ll leave that for others. I’ll go back to being a rabbi and an educator. When you speak about Iran – and I know how central that is to so much of your thinking – you know, when we spoke about 9/11 activating Tikkun, Olam, I think one of the things we have to ask ourselves is that when, when countries engage in foreign policy or they engage in foreign intervention or nation building, is it Tikkun Olam, or is it fear? And when it’s fear, they’re going to end up leaving the way they left, because it really wasn’t about nation building.

Donniel Hartman:
It was about self-preservation. And then a narrative, you almost got stuck in your narrative until someone said, you know, let’s cut the crap. It’s like enough, but when it’s Tikkun Olam, there’s a much longer-term vision. I’m now: what’s the best way to do Tikukn Olam? Can you do nation-building through force this way? If it hasn’t worked yet, it behooves us to at least think about that, but then it comes back to Iran. I don’t know how frightened America is of Iran. I don’t know.

Yossi Klein Halevi:
Not enough.

Donniel Hartman:
Is it about when one side speaks about a moral vision about the Middle east and about countries and what it might, how it might affect all of our, I don’t know what plays or doesn’t play and maybe that’s maybe that’s the ulimate naivete. The lesson of 9/11 that countries respond when they’re attacked or is the lesson of 9/11, that we have a responsibility to combat evil if it emerges. There’s a very big difference between the two.

Yossi Klein Halevi:
It’s often very difficult to extricate one from the other America was right to respond with the war in Afghanistan, as a war of preservation, as a war that was motivated by the need to act out of self-interest. And it’s true that eventually a much grander agenda came into play. And I, again, I wonder if America had confined itself to Afghanistan and that extended beyond to Iraq and yielded to the temptation of arrogance, whether it could have fulfilled both the mandate of self-interest and the mandate of Tikkun Olam.

Donniel Hartman:
We don’t want to be, who knows, but as we think forward, that question should guide our thoughts in the future. Let’s take a break. And when we return Elana will join us.

Donniel Hartman:
Elana, welcome back. We missed you. I know you were writing your book, but our Torah wasn’t the same without you.

Elana Stein Hain:
I’m honored. I did enjoy my time away, but I’m very happy to be back as well. Shana Tova to everybody.

Donniel Hartman:
Shana Tova to you. So you heard our conversation and let’s go even further back not 20 years, 2000 years. What part of our tradition and its discussion about life and Yom Kippur where does this find you and what could you teach us?

Elana Stein Hain:
So interesting, just first of all, listening to the two of you, really talk about interests and values, and sometimes how, when you’ve got that perfect Venn diagram between interests and values, everything’s working just fine. And then suddenly when the interests are gone, the values aren’t as urgent. We could do a whole session just on that, I think, but when I think about this, I don’t think about it primarily in geopolitical terms. I actually think about it in very personal terms because I was a sophomore in Columbia college on the day of the 9/11 attacks. And I remember it very, very well. I was on my way to class. I don’t know what it was 9:30, 10 in the morning, something that was on my way to class. And somebody said an airplane hit the World Trade Center. And I said, oh, I’m sure they evacuated everybody beforehand. There was no terrorism, that wasn’t a thing that we thought about in America.

Elana Stein Hain:
You didn’t have to do anything at the airport. You just –  you walked right onto the plane and that’s the way it was. So when I think about it, it’s really, it’s framed in a very personal way. And, and the two pieces for me that are very strong. One is what I learned about the power of ideology. And the second is what I learned about the power of uncertainty. And I want to learn some Torah about each of those. And the power of ideology is actually, it’s quite related. Then you’ll do something that you said earlier, but there’s the statement of Rabbi Hanina in the Talmud in Berakhot 33b where Rabbi Hanina says, everything is in the hands of heaven, except for fear of heaven. And then he cites this beautiful verse from Deuteronomy 10 that says, “and now Israel, what does the Lord, your God ask of you? But just to fear the Lord, your God.”

Elana Stein Hain:
In other words, you come into this world and you don’t get things by dent of your own choice, right? My eye color was not my own choice. My socioeconomic status, at least starting out was not my own choice. My physical abilities, my mental abilities, these were not my own choices. But Rabbi Hanina says, what you do have is you have the possibility of fear of heaven being your choice, yirat shamayim. Like when I think about this statement in light of 9/11, I don’t think about it as I used to, which is like, oh, it’s basically trying to tell you that you have a choice. You could be good. You could be bad, but everything else is predetermined. I think it’s about ideology. I think it’s basically saying you could have two people, two groups of people who were in the same material conditions and what distinguishes them is their ideology and not taking people’s ideology seriously is really at your own peril.

Elana Stein Hain:
So I’m looking at what happened, you know, who chooses to drive a plane into a crowded building of people, to murder people and to commit their own suicide? It’s ideology, right? It’s not just interests. It’s something deeper. It’s a complete frame of how you look at the world. And it’s interesting to me that Maimonides actually in his introduction to Pirkei Avot in his introduction to Ethics of the Ancestors called Shmoneh Prakim, the Eight Chapters. He says in that eighth chapter about this issue, he says, well, part of making good choices is the obligation to learn and to train yourself. And then he cites verses “you should teach your children” Deuteronomy 11:19. “You should learn these things” Deuteronomy 5:1. And I think the role of education, right, you’re talking about is it war, that’s going to end these things. It’s not, it’s a change in ideology, right?

Elana Stein Hain:
Meaning what war is going to do, it’s going to hold things at bay. That’s what it’s going to do. But what you want to make room for, is it different ideology, a more peaceful ideology of more moderate ideology. And I think about these 20 years and when we understand that actually what happened was the ideology that actually endangers the world, this religious terrorist ideology, it just goes into the shadows and then it comes out again. I mean, I don’t mean to be, I’m not pie in the sky in any way, but there have been 20 years of kids in Afghanistan who have learned a different ideology and that ideology is not going to go away either. And the Taliban is not going to be able to squash that ideology either. It’s like energy. It doesn’t disappear. It just gets channeled somewhere else. So there’s something to me about education and the power of education that if you want to teach change, you have to teach ideology.

Elana Stein Hain:
That’s what you have to do. What was also a rude awakening for me as a 20 year old and now as a 40 year old, it’s just obvious is that yirat shamayim, fear of God, means such different things to different people. I’m a religious person. When I say fear of God, what that means is I’m going to be more honest. I’m going to be more diligent. I’m going to be kinder. I’m – that’s it, it doesn’t mean I’m going to hurt people in the name of my religion. Religious terrorism and religious violence is really a force to content with in every religion, right? And every ideology for that matter, but where it is in your religion, it really, it really tears me up. So that’s the first thing that I just want to put on the table is just that the focus on the way you think about the world, that interests, values, it’s the values piece.

Elana Stein Hain:
It’s, what’s your ideology? Your ideology to be self-preservation, but whatever it is, that’s, what’s actually going to lead you to do whatever you’re going to do. And then the second, which to me is kind of a mirror is a place where, you know, as much as I want to say, you can have two people who look the same, who have similar experiences in life and what differentiates, what they’re going to do with themselves is how they look at the world, what their understanding is of the world. There’s a place in Yom Kippur, where we actually emphasized that you could have two people who look alike and have a similar experience, but actually what distinguishes, the way they’re going to go is not their ideology, but actually just the uncertainty of life, just chance. So we have this mission in tractate Yoma about Yom Kippur, Chapter Six, Mishna 1, one of the central rituals of Yom Kippur is this symbolic distinction between inside and outside.

Elana Stein Hain:
And what I mean by that is we have these two goats – on Yom Kippur we have more than two goats on Yom Kippur, but this ritual with two goats on Yom Kippur, and there’s going to be a lottery over these goats. And one of these goats is going to be taken to a cliff outside the camp. And he’s essentially going to carry our sins in a symbolic way with it off a cliff. Okay? That’s like the outside, that’s the stuff we want gone. The other goat goes right into the center of the temple worship. Now what’s amazing. It’s a gorgeous symbolic ritual. It’s very hard to think about in our rational terms, but think about the symbolism of this ritual, the Mishnah in Yoma 6:1 says the following “these two goats of Yom Kippor the best thing is if they would be the same in their looks, they should look alike.

Elana Stein Hain:
They should be the same in their height. They should be equally priced and they should be bought together.” That’s the best way to do it. So what’s the symbolism of this? You have these two things look alike. You think they’re the same and what distinguishes them? You’re going to do a lottery. You’re going to pick something out of a hat. It wasn’t something else, but which one is going to go where it’s going to be determined by chance, by God, by something that’s out of your control. The uncertainty of that, the it’s not about your ideology and deciding how you’re going to let- the uncertainty of life. To me, it’s all over this. So when you’re talking, Yossi, what could we have known when we went in and what -? nothing. I think as an American, the way we got out is terrible. It’s just awful.

Elana Stein Hain:
And clearly we didn’t do what we could do, but when we started, of course, there’s uncertainty. That’s what this is. And as an American, I finally felt with my friends who told me about different, you know, terrorists and terror attacks in Israel, I finally felt that I was like, oh my gosh, what is it like to live a life that’s uncertain? What does that even, what does that even feel like? And I think it’s really important. I mean, we’re in Corona for two years. We know what uncertainty is. To me, the certainty with which, and I love the way you put it, Yossi, people are judging others. Instead of judging themselves, it’s actually missing the message. The message is actually uncertainty. And we’re trying, and we don’t know what’s going to what’s going to win. And then back to the ideology point, and this is my last piece, fundamentalist, ideologies, religious, not religious, what’s their goal? Their goal is to eliminate the radical uncertainty of life. They want to be certain. And so I look at the results of this war on terror. I look at the results of people’s own certainty about what we’re doing, right? And we’re doing wrong and fundamentalist ideologies that are cropping up all over America. And I say to myself, we really, really have to watch out life. There’s a lot of uncertainty in life and we actually have to embrace that uncertainty as uncomfortable as it is. That’s what I want to put on the table.

Donniel Hartman:
Elana, thank you very, very much. Can I just ask you a small question about the end doesn’t certainty, then create determinism? How do you connect uncertainty with teshuva? Like how, how does uncertainty not freeze you into saying, you know, I’m like one of the goats, whether I’m going to go to out to the desert, one is going to live and one’s going to like, it’s just chance. So what do you do?

Elana Stein Hain:
You know, me, I’m always a “yes – and” meaning the way that I look at this: Ideology and uncertainty are actually intention with each other, because ideology, we can fix the world. We can look at it the right way. We can view it. We can create it. We can shape it. And then uncertainty tells you, but hold on a second, hold on. Before you’ve decided what your grand new Afghanistan is to look like. So, you actually don’t know what you don’t know. And I think part of that is the humility that you mentioned before. They’re both true. We know that.

Donniel Hartman:
Ideology and its certainty are the enemy of humility and the uncertainty is the catalyst for it.

Elana Stein Hain:
And yet, if you can have an ideology that makes room for uncertainty, but doesn’t get paralyzed by it. Then I think you’re living a full human life, right? That’s what it means to be human. What we’re not going to sit. And that’s what Rabbi Hanina meant It’s all in the hands of heaven, but you can choose how to interpret it. You can choose how to shape it.

Donniel Hartman:
Elana, thank you. Yossi, but any last thoughts as you look back and these 20 years.

Yossi Klein Halevi:
I think that Elana really is is leaving us with the keynote of where our conversation has been struggling to go, which is the need for the ability of Yom Kippur to infuse our decision-making, our self-awareness our self-examination. That’s really why I so much appreciate the conversations with both of you. I feel that the quest for humility defines in some sense, the project of this podcast. This podcast is really an attempt to infuse our year with something of the sensibility of Yom Kippur. I want to thank both of you and just to say how honored I am to be your partner.

Donniel Hartman:
Thank you. And so let’s end Yom Kippur, 9/11 with that bracha of humility, but not be so humble to not aspire for Tikkun Olam me. It’s not me.

Elana Stein Hain:
No, you’re absolutely – that can be a fundamentalism too. Absolutely.

Yossi Klein Halevi:
Look who thinks he’s so humble.

Donniel Hartman:
It’s no – it’s so interesting. When you look back at something, these anniversaries on the one hand, they’re so arbitrary, but they’re really important because it lets you control or at least have the fantasy of finding those aspects of what you might want to do differently in that we don’t have to live the next 20 years, we will always have to mourn 9/11, and we’re going to have to learn the lessons of 9/11, but we’re also going to have to learn the lessons of the lessons we learned from 9/11. And they might not always be the same. And it’ll be interesting to see what we do, but it starts with Yom Kippur.

Donniel Hartman:
For Heaven’s Sake is a product of the Shalom Hartman Institute. It was produced by David Zvi Kalman and edited by Joelle Fredman. Transcripts of our shows are now available on our website typically a week after an episode airs. To find them and to learn more about the Shalom Hartman Institute, visit us online shalomhartman.org We want to know what you think about the show. You can rate and review us on iTunes to help more people discover the show. You can also write to us at, [email protected], subscribe to our show in the Apple podcast app, Spotify, SoundCloud, audible, and everywhere else. Podcasts are available. Thanks for listening. And Yossi and Elana, it’s a pleasure to be with you. Shana Tova and Gmar Hatima Tova.