Peace is not the mere cessation of hostilities. America does not have peace with New Zealand, for instance — it just doesn’t know where it is. Lack of fighting does not mean peace, either: The fact that you don’t argue with your cleaning lady does not mean you have more peace with her than your spouse.
And real peace is a state of being, not just with yourself but with everyone around you. Simply not shooting each other is not peace any more than buying your wife a birthday card is love. It may be a start, but there is a lot more that is needed.
There is nothing wrong with wanting security. That’s fine. Just don’t confuse it with peace.
Let me give you an example. You are sitting at a restaurant in downtown Manhattan enjoying a great meal with your family. Across the street is a homeless child begging for dinner.
Do you have peace? No, of course not. Why? Because the world is not at peace. You have security, because that child is not going to shoot you for dinner. But because she doesn’t have peace, you don’t have peace either.
Someone who wants true peace wants peace with everyone he meets. You can want security and you can want peace, you just can’t want both at the same time. If you have peace then security is redundant. If you want security, it means you have given up on peace, at least for the time being.
Listen, nobody in the world wants peace more than Jews. The reason Jews give so much in charity is their desire for peace. We feel the incongruity and lack of harmony in the world, and therefore the lack of peace. This is what drives so many Jews to right the perceived wrongs in the world and bring harmony.
Israel is the land of peace, in that every Jew, whether left-wing or right wing or secular or religious, knows that if it came down to it the other would come to their rescue. They know that the other would die on their behalf.
I was once talking to a secular Israeli soldier. He told me about his antipathy for religious Jews. I asked him, if a building of religious Jews was being attacked, what would he do?
“Defend it, of course,” he said. “Even at the cost of my life!”
“So you are willing to die for these people, just not talk to them?” I retorted.
That’s family for you!
There isn’t much that would make me happier than to see a signed peace treaty between all the parties in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But for that to happen, all the sides have to learn to make peace with themselves. Peace is not giving in. Peace only happens when the parties join together in unity. They have to see every human being as precious and value life.
If you know how to make peace in your home, with your families, and with all of the Jewish people, you will know how to do it with your Arab neighbor. Once we learn peace with each other, we can and will teach it to the rest of the world.
Originally from London, Rabbi Stephen Baars resides in Rockville, Maryland, and serves as executive director of Aish Seminars. An educator and marriage counselor for the past 25 years, Rabbi Baars and his wife, Ruth, are blessed with seven children. Learn more about Rabbi Baars at www.getbliss.com and www.core9.live.