SALT - Sunday, 14 Iyar 5779 - May 19, 2019

  • Rav David Silverberg
This week's SALT shiurim are dedicated in memory of
David Moshe ben Harav Yehuda Leib Silverberg z"l,
whose yahrzeit is Thursday 18 Iyar, May 23
            Parashat Bechukotai begins with the description of the blessings God promises to bestow upon Benei Yisrael in reward for their observance of His laws.  God proclaims in this section, “I shall grant peace in the land, and you shall lie without dread” (26:6).
            Or Ha-chayim raises the question of why this promise was necessary, considering that just prior to this verse, God promises, “You shall dwell securely in your land.”  Once God has granted us security, Or Ha-chayim asks, why do we then need an additional promise of “peace” and the ability to sleep at night without fear?
            Or Ha-chayim’s first explanation (which was already suggested by Ibn Ezra) is that the promise of “peace” refers to peace within the nation.  We are promised that besides enjoying security from external threats, we will also enjoy peaceful relations among ourselves, and not find ourselves embroiled in internecine conflicts.
            Or Ha-chayim then suggests a second possibility, noting that whereas the first verse speaks of security “be-artzekhem” – “in your land,” the second promises peace “ba-aretz” – “in the land.”  In light of this distinction, Or Ha-chayim proposes that the second verse refers to a blessing of peace not only in Eretz Yisrael, but throughout the world.  Meaning, the word “ba-aretz” in this verse should be understood as referring to the entire world, and not just to the Land of Israel.  Or Ha-chayim explains that besides the inherent value of universal peace, which is something we should be wishing and praying for, conditions in other parts of the world affect us wherever we are.  Even if we live in peace, hearing about violent conflicts elsewhere causes us anxiety and uneasiness, as we wonder whether the unrest could spread to our region.  And thus God promises not only security in our land, but also peace throughout the world so that “you shall lie without dread” – the peaceful state of the world will bring us peace of mind and a sense of true security.
            Or Ha-chayim’s comments perhaps teach that the conditions we create within our own small circle have an effect far beyond that circle.  Fighting and discord within a family or community negatively impact upon not only that family and community, but also many others, generating tension and negativity that could easily spread far and wide.  Conversely, maintaining peaceful and amicable relations within our own circle can have the effect of spreading positive energy and harmony well beyond our circle of direct influence.  We must therefore work towards creating a peaceful, joyous environment not only for our own sake and the sake of the people around us, but also as part of our responsibility for the world at large.