Israel Forever

For the week ending 24 May 2003 / 22 Iyyar 5763

Earning Peace

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Peace is the sweet dream of all Mankind. It has particular significance for the Jewish People whose history is filled with so much conflict, exile and persecution.

In the little more than half a century of its existence, the modern State of Israel has experienced half a dozen wars on its borders, and the threat of missile attacks in two wars beyond its borders. No wonder then that a special emotion will surge in the heart of the Jew who hears the Divine promise of "peace in your land" in this weeks Torah reading.

Peace, however, cannot be achieved by simply dreaming of it or even fighting and negotiating for it. Peace, says the Torah, must be earned by the people who received the Torah as a guide for living their individual and national lives.

How does one earn the right to peace, without which all the blessings of economic prosperity listed at the outset of this weeks Torah portion are meaningless?

The answer is clearly stated in the very first words of this portion: "If you shall go in My statutes and observe My commandments".

"Go in My statutes," explain our Sages, "does not refer to the fulfillment of G-ds commandments which is explicitly mentioned. It refers rather to the additional need for the diligent study of Torah.

It is indeed tragic to witness the change of governmental attitude towards the support of yeshivot and kolelim in Eretz Yisrael. For virtually all the years of statehood there has been financial support for these institutions. Even though that support was considerably less than what was provided for universities and secular schools it did contribute significantly to the ability of the Torah world to persevere in its diligent study of Torah and earn Heavenly protection for a beleaguered land. When Jews hear the promise of peace this week and the conditions for this dream coming true they should offer a prayer that G-d opens the eyes of misguiding leaders who fail to see what protects Israel forever.

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