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Inner Peace

By: Mrs Michal Porat-Zibman

This week’s Parsha finishes up Sefer VaYikra. Parshat Bechukotai opens with a recitation of the Brachot and tochacha (blessings and rebuke) that Bnei Yisrael will receive depending on their actions.  While reading the Parsha at first glance it may seem to us that the Torah invests a lot more discussion on the rebuke (30 psukim) than the brachot (13 psukim). However, the Ibn Ezra encourages us not to read it as face value, but to look deeper into the text and realize that the Brachot were said in the general sense.  Thankfully there are way too many brachot to put into detail, but the rebuke, the curses, were actually given in detail to 'scare' the listeners and make them realize the consequences of their actions.

Within the greater picture of the Brachot that we are blessed with, the Torah tells us that if we do as we are commanded 'You will dwell securely in your land; (26;5). The following pasuk states "And I will give peace within the land'. 

Many of the commentators are puzzled by this, for it seems like the obvious result of 'dwelling securely in your land'. If a nation dwells securely, why might they need an additional blessing of peace?

Rav Shimshon Refael Hirsch (19th cen. Germany) says that this peace is referring to a 'social' peace which is the result of inner peace and stability.  Perhaps he is referring to the idea that often happens in a society where people live together, and it can easily become a competitive social environment because each person is concerned that his or her own accomplishments aren’t good enough when they look over at their neighbors/friends/colleagues accomplishments. Maybe the message here is that while peace from our external enemies is truly a hope, a blessing and a prayer, we also must strive individually for that sense of inner peace, within and amongst ourselves. The Hebrew word for feeling complete, or whole, with oneself is 'shalem', which is the same root as the word 'shalom'.

Shalom is something that is not just done with ones enemies, or even ones friends. It’s something that one must strive to have within his or her own self.

As we look back on this past week of Yom Ha’aztmaut and Zikaron, we feel the tremendous need for prayers for national peace with those who aim to destroy us. But during this time of Sefirat Ha’omer we try to work on  shalom with each other as we remember the downfall of Rabbi Akivas students. IY’H as we prepare to celebrate Lag B'Omer this weekend, may we truly strive to light the fire within ourselves of pursuing shalom on all levels, and may it burn as strong as a fire of authentic inner peace.

Shabbat Shalom




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