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Peace in the ME: You carry the key



Rabbi Asher Deren

Chabad of the West Coast


But he isn’t the only one hoping for peace in the Middle East this week.

“And I will return in peace to the house of my father.”

These words are from the narrative of this week’s parsha, immediately after Yaakov wakes up from the dream of the ladder and the angels ascending and descending from heaven.

These are the words of Yaakov, brother of Esav, nephew of Ishma’el and soon to be son-in-law of Laban, all of whom would have gladly offered him peace – in the context of “rest in peace” our beloved Yaakov, G-d forbid.

But what is this peace that Yaakov is hoping for after everything else he asks for? He’ll already be, as the verse says “with G-d” and have his needs provided for, be protected, and everything will be OK. What’s this “AND I will return in peace” that he is looking for?

Sure, we’ll be OK. The Jewish people have thankfully “had G-d with them” from the yeshiva in Africa that Yaakov himself established in Goshen, all the way through to the plethora of beautiful Jewish day schools and shuls in South Africa today.

Yes, “He will watch over us on the way” from the military crisis with Esav that Yaakov by the grace of G-d avoided, all the way through to the Iron Dome defence systems today, He has always found ways to watch over us.

But will I “return in peace?” The absence of peace is a reflection of our own inner war. Israel is at war with itself in defining what it does mean to be “Jewish,” as a state, a nation, and the borders around that. That war – the inner war – is what our enemies live off of.

Yaakov wasn’t worried about survival. That he knew G-d would ensure. But he wondered about the purpose and meaning of all this. Would anything useful and different be achieved on this journey that he was setting out on?

Instead of us just fuming on Facebook about President Zuma (and Prime Minister Netanyahu for that matter), we need to face the brutal truth that peace in Israel requires a far more holistic and internal solution than this or that status update. Yes, YOU carry the key to peace in the Middle East – and your midlife crisis.

Make peace in your home. Work on it. Make peace between the truth of Torah and our faith in G-d and a secular world that denies its existence. Be more Jewish yourself. That makes the Jewish state more Jewish – and more peaceful.

Yaakov realised that it was his own inner peace that would bring peace to his father’s home. Maybe it’s time we realise that as well. 

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