-Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh
found on twitter
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
-Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)
Most Christians will immediately connect the words of Rabbi Ginsburgh with the passage from Isaiah and arrive at the Messiah, the Savior, Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. He came as a teacher and prophet, a humble man of God, who was led like a lamb to the slaughter. He will one day return as the Lion of Judah, the conquering King of the Jews, who will restore Israel to a place of high honor and bring peace to all the world.
In Rabbi Ginsburgh’s blog post The secret of peace, he describes the following:
In the Torah portion of Behar, we read that as a consequence of observing the sabbatical and jubilee years, God’s promises us, “…You shall settle the land securely… and you shall settle securely upon it.” This twice repeated promise recurs a third time at the beginning of the next Torah portion, Bechukotai, which is often read in conjunction with the portion of Behar: “And you shall settle securely in your land,” and is immediately followed by the blessing of peace, “And I will grant peace in the land.” Rashi asks, “If you were to say, ‘We have food and we have drink, but if there is no peace then they are worthless!’ for this reason the Torah continues, ‘I will grant peace in the land.’” From here we learn that peace is as important as the sum of all other blessings.” Another blessing that concludes with “peace” is the Priestly Blessing. The Amidah, the main prayer repeated three times a day, also concludes with a blessing for peace. Peace is the link that connects all the prophetic visions of the ultimate redemption and it is the universal catchword and today, everyone wants peace…
We are promised peace in the days of the Messiah, but we are not content to wait (and it’s difficult to be content when there’s no peace). We want our peace; our shalom right now. But in a world of chaos and turmoil, where can it be found?
We seek peace everywhere; with our families and friends, with our neighbors and co-workers, in every area of our lives, but we don’t often find it. We substitute true peace for temporary entertainment and distraction, and the desire to distract ourselves has become a multi-billion dollar industry (just look how well the movie The Avengers has done at the box office recently). I’m not sure that even people of faith can find a true and lasting peace in the world around us. Is it any wonder that those who do not even seek God can find no true and lasting peace at all?
So we wait for the Prince of Peace to come. Rabbi Ginsburgh’s commentary continues:
Obviously, the messianic goal doesn’t end with peace amongst Jews alone, but aims even higher, to achieve universal peace. The Mashiach will teach the entire world how to make true peace: peace between the soul and the body, family harmony, fraternal peace, peace between Jews and the nations, and peace between all of humanity. As the prophet Zechariah said of the Mashiach, “And he shall speak peace to the nations, and his rule shall be from the sea to the west and from the river to the ends of the earth.” [The word “peace” (shalom) appears explicitly in this verse, and in the initial letters of the words, “peace to the nations, and his rule shall be from the sea."] World peace does not marginalize the unique light of the Jewish nation. On the contrary, the peace that spreads out so far, “to the ends of the earth,” is the perfect setting from the special qualities of the Jewish nation to be revealed, for in the end, peace between Jewish souls comes from the most exalted source of all.
The Master said that Salvation is from the Jews,” (John 4:22) but then, so is peace. This is another reason why we Christians, and indeed, the entire world, owes the Jews a debt that can never be repaid. It is their King who will finally come and bring peace for everyone, not just the nation of Israel, but the nations of the earth.
…but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken. -Micah 4:4 (ESV)
In spite of what I said before, Rabbi Ginsburgh believes we can achieve a sort of peace in the present world through pursuing righteousness.
These three circles of peace can help us understand Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai’s words in the Zohar regarding the Mashiach, who is called, “the minister of peace” – “The minister of peace is a righteous person who is at peace with the world, at peace in the home [peace among Jews] and at peace with the Divine Presence.” These three circles of peace form a progression, with each higher than the previous one. We hope to see all three revealed speedily in our days by the minister of peace, the Mashiach.
It’s interesting that Rabbi Ginsburgh says that a righteous person is at peace with the Divine Presence rather than at peace with God. The Divine Presence, also known as the Shekhinah, is that expression of God which descended upon the Tabernacle in the desert (and later Solomon’s Temple) and inhabited it; God dwelling among His people. This is just an opinion, but maybe we weren’t designed to understand peace between us and the great, unknowable Ein Sof God, but only that expression of the Divine that allows itself to enter into our world.