Candle Lighting time 8:13 PM
In our tradition peace, shalom, is the highest ethical value even greater than truth, emet. Midrash Rabbah Numbers (21:1) teaches that the entire Torah is peace as it is written “Its ways are ways of pleasantness and all its paths are peace.” Our major prayers conclude with peace, like the priestly benediction (May God turn His countenance toward you and grant you peace), the Amidah’s last blessing is Sim Shalom (Grant peace) in the morning and Shalom Rav (Bestow abundant peace) in the evening, and finally the full Kaddish and the mourner’s Kaddish ends with Oseh Shalom (He Who makes peace in His high heavens). No wonder Rabbi Shimon ben Halafta said, “The Holy One Blessed be He did not find a better vessel to hold blessings than peace as it is written ‘May the LORD grant strength to His people; may the LORD bestow on His people peace.’”
At the very beginning of this week’s Torah portion, Pinkhas, God gave Pinkhas a covenant of peace because he saved the Jewish people from annihilation by slaying the Jewish and the Midian ringleaders leading Israelites to apostasy. “The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Pinkhas, son of Eleazar son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the Israelites by displaying among them his passion for Me, so that I did not wipe out the Israelite people in My passion.* Say, therefore, ‘I grant him My covenant of peace.” (Numbers 25:10-12)
By granting him a covenant of peace, I think that God wants to show us through Pinkhas a better way to handle crisis than with violence. In our troubled world beset with violence, extremism, racism, we need to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. Nor should we stand idly by and do nothing. Susan Dale’s prayer should be our prayer to inspire us to live a life of shalom.
Creator of light and giver of life …
May your light shine through each one of us
that we may be:
beacons of justice,
channels of peace,
agents of reconciliation and
bearers of hope.
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