True peace is the oneness that sprouts from diversity, from a panorama of colors, strokes and textures. From the harmony of many instruments each playing a unique part, not one overlapping the other’s kingdom by even the breadth of a hair. There, in the most delightful beauty of this world, there shines G‑d’s most profound oneness.
Those who attempt to blur those borders, they are unwittingly destroying the world. Beginning with the crucial border between man and woman—for this is the beginning of all diversity, the sharpest focus of G‑d’s oneness, shining intensely upon His precious world.
—Likkutei Sichot, volume 18, Korach 3
-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
“A Different Peace”
Based on letters and talks of the Rebbe
Rabbi M. M. Schneerson
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)
Given some of the topics I choose to discuss on my blog, it may not always be apparent that I am seeking peace. I seek peace with my fellow human beings and I seek peace with God. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a peaceful world, in either the general or the personal sense. Both the world around us and our own personal worlds are often filled with chaos and strife. Those of us who are disciples of the Master long for his return for the sake of peace. Jews who do not share our view on Jesus being the Messiah look forward anxiously to the Moshiach’s coming, also for the sake of peace.
But is any sort of peace possible in the world we live in today, especially when its occupied by so many different and contradictory cultures, viewpoints, and people?
The Alter Rebbe writes in his Siddur: It is proper to say before prayer, I hereby take upon myself to fulfill the mitzva – “Love your fellowman as yourself.” This means that the precept of ahavat yisrael is the entry-gate through which man can pass to stand before G-d to daven. By merit of that love the worshipper’s prayer is accepted.
Monday, Tamuz 2, 5703
Compiled and arranged by the Lubavitcher Rebbe
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, in 5703 (1943)
from the talks and letters of the sixth Chabad Rebbe
Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, of righteous memory
Translated by Yitschak Meir Kagan
While the Alter Rebbe is talking about love of one Jew for another, I believe we as disciples of our Master, can apply this to a wider audience. I can only hope that my own audience represents every tribe, people, and tongue from among the nations as well as those of Israel. I want to appeal to such an audience to “Love your fellowman as yourself” for the ways of peace, since God is the God of all humanity.
But let’s be reasonable. Humanity contains a lot of different people. We don’t always get along.
My friend Gene Shlomovich commented on this blog post Are Christians/Gentile believers “spiritual Jews” or “Israelites?” – Part II:
Some people may think that all this talk of distinction will serve to create division between Jews and Gentiles. I think that the total opposite is actually the case. When people, whether they are Jews or Gentiles, know who they are and are comfortable being who G-d made them to be, don’t view themselves as somehow inferior or superior to their brothers or sisters, there is or will be no jealously, no resentment, no envy, no grass is greener on the other side. True peace, contentment, love and fellowship are the only outcome.
I agree that peace isn’t found in the total homogenization of the human race, making us all one type and kind. As the old saying goes, “it takes all kinds to make a world.” I find myself sometimes wishing that some of those “kinds” would learn to be silent, especially when they give me a hard time on the blogosphere (I say this tongue-in-cheek), but God is King of the Universe, not me. In fact, I suspect that peace actually requires that we are all different, because we have all been assigned different roles to fulfill in God’s plan.
Now we see that both Jews and Christians are vital to the realization of God’s plan and the return of the Messiah. The nation of Israel must be the centerpiece of the world so that Messiah can rule and reign. Christians must support Israel’s return to the Torah or the nation will fail and we will never see the Messiah’s return. No one has to be ashamed of who they are, whether they’re Jewish or Christian, and I’m indebted to the brilliant, young Jewish scholar Jordan Levy for presenting this point just prior to Boaz’s final teaching. I also thank her for saying something I hope I’ll never forget and something I don’t want you to ever forget. She said that in fulfilling our role as supporters of the redemption of Israel, we become “the crown jewels of the nations.” What a wonderful blessing for us to have as we bless Israel and play our part in restoring her to God.
While the realization of this hope still needs to be fleshed out, particularly in light of Scripture, it is a stone laid with optimism in the building of a road that leads from alienation and isolation to a form of unity of humanity and purpose in the plans of God as He fulfills His vows to Israel and sends the Messiah to establish final peace for all the world.
The resolution of this question depends on the definition of unity. Absolute, elementary oneness is impossible in our material world. As Rashi comments: (Rashi, commenting on Numbers 16:5.) “The Holy One, blessed be He, has defined limits in His world. Can you turn morning into evening?” Every entity has its own distinct nature.
The concept of division need not, however, run contrary to our endeavors toward unity. On the contrary, unity is more complete when it encompasses divergent entities, each with a nature of its own.
This is the intent of the peace which the Torah was given to establish. Not that differences should not exist, but that they should merge in synergistic harmony. There is thus a place for Korach in the Torah for the Torah teaches that division can serve a positive purpose, and that diversity need not lead to strife.
Peace within ourselves, peace with our fellow humans, and peace with God doesn’t depend on changing ourselves into something we’re not. Peace comes from finding out who God created each of us to be and then living in the place we are meant to occupy in the “cosmic reality” of His plan, being part of a greater and diverse whole which will certainly result in the return of Messiah and his establishing final, lasting peace.
I feel like we’re all being carried along in this enormous cosmic wave of destiny and purpose. Within that wave, we are struggling for position and seeking clues as to what it all means. We want our answers now because we believe the purpose of our lives are directly attached to knowing everything there is to know.
Someday, we’ll all turn around and look at what has been accomplished, at all of the prophesies that God fulfilled, and we’ll finally understand. Until then, we wrestle with God and each other (and ourselves) within the wave.
Someday, the wave will break and we will be where ever it has deposited us at the end of all things. Then we will look back and see so very clearly what we have done and why God made each of us to be who we are. And there will finally be no more fears, no more sorrow, and there will be peace between all people and peace with God.
We only have our faith to sustain us in the present and to summon the future. We each have our own unique path to travel. Walk your trail that leads to the mountain of God. Within the chaos of the wave that sweeps us all along, it’s on that trail where we will find the peace we need to keep us whole and safe. May the Messiah come soon and in our day.
“True peace is not merely the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice.”
-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Montgomery, Alabama, 1955