Jul 29, 2014

An Inside Look at Peace

Oseh Shalom Bimromav"May He who makes peace above make peace below."

An Inside Look at Peace

" Oseh Shalom Bimromav."

"May He who makes peace above make peace below."

These words are part of daily Jewish prayer, also the end of the Kaddish prayer, and they express the universal yearning within each soul.  

Can two people with opposite opinions truly embrace in peace? Can fire and water not extinguish each other  Can the wolf really lay with the lamb?

Imagine this: Professor Larry is a staunch conservative, and his neighbor professor Harry is a diehard liberal. Harry is well known for his passionate views on climate change and for his fervent speeches on the legacy of our planet. In contrast, Larry blames "people like" Harry for the high prices of gas at the pump, and for environmental regulations increasing the cost of living.

When Larry and Harry decided to tone down their rhetoric, they became best of friends. If Harry and Larry are committed to discovering what is best for mankind, then that idea becomes more important than their differences. Stop for a moment to contemplate the vast differences that exist within nature, and the peaceful synergy of nature. For example, note the sun's perfect distance from our planet, to allow us to enjoy her light and heat; yet, we do not get consumed by her fiery power and strength. Can human beings mirror that peaceful harmony?

The Talmud, the book that contains important Torah discussions, and is responsible for much of Jewish thought. It includes many discussions with conflicting lines of thought.

There are two sages that are famous for their constant opposition throughout the Talmud; Hillel and Shamai. They argue about religious matters and philosophy.  Despite their differences, they display mutual respect.

Our sages tell us that the disagreements of Shamai and Hillel were "leshaim shamayim" for the sake of heaven. – Avot 5:17

What does this imply?

When we stake an ideological position, it is common  to lose sight of the "purpose" of our respective positions. When the schools of Shammai and Hillel argued, they were each genuinely looking for the "right path" of the Torah. Therefore, the Torah was the more important truth, not their respective ideas. And "peace" is at the core of Torah's values; thus each person and their supporters never lost site of this and were respectful and civil.

Said Hillel: Be of the disciples of Aaron--a lover of peace, a pursuer of peace, one who loves the creatures… Avot 1:12

Thus in the prayer of “osesh shalom” we turn to our Maker with our heartfelt prayer, May He who makes the possibility of peace a reality in the heavenly abode, amongst the stellar planets of our universe, allow us humans here on earth to be enlightened with that which will make our desire and yearning for true peace overpower all other differences.

Our universe is filled with opposing energies.   But there is something higher that brings us together.  I recall observing this in the great unity the day after 9-11.  It seemed as if a higher truth had connected us.

What happened and where did that feeling go? 

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