Peace at Home for Peace in the World – Naso 5781

D'var Torah | Numbers

The culmination of the priestly blessing is the call for peace: “May God lift up His face towards you and grant you peace” (Numbers 6:26). And, as Rabbi Yehudah Shaviv notes, it is not the only time in the opening chapters of the book of Numbers that the importance of peace is stressed.


The Talmud (Hullin 141a) notes that peace between husband and wife is so great a virtue that God allows for his own name to be erased in order to promote marital peace. What the Talmud has in mind is the fact that the ordeal of the suspected woman includes writing the curse ‘May God cause you to become infertile’ and dissolving the papyrus on which it was written in the bitter waters from which she was to drink. Going through the ordeal is the way to assure the husband that his wife was not unfaithful. But the ordeal also requires “erasing” God’s name – a violation of the Torah (Deuteronomy 12:3-4). Yet God welcomes the erasure of His name if the ordeal results in the restoration of trust and the happy reunion of husband and wife.


Indeed, peace is quintessential value. So great is peace, the Rabbis advocate, even idolaters who dwell together in peace are protected from punishment (Sifre, Naso 42). So great is peace, the rabbis say elsewhere (Leviticus Rabbah 9), that all blessings are included in it. So great is peace, Maimonides goes on to say (Laws of Hanukkah 4:14), that the sole purpose of the giving of the Torah was to bring peace to the world.


But peace in the world is a grand hope and lies beyond the abilities of ordinary folk to achieve. This, however, is not the case with peace among family members. In order to bring peace to the world, it is best to start with making peace among parents and children, spouses, the older generations and the younger. And it is through making peace locally that we can end up with peace enjoyed globally.


Words to Live By

What lies behind you and what lies ahead of you pales in comparison to what lies inside you.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

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