Peace - Shalom - is a pretty central concept to our culture. So we asked Mother to say a few words about it.
*waves a paw dramatically* Take it awaaaaay, Mommy!
(*eyeroll* There's one in every crowd... )
For many years, the U.S. had a governmental affairs office in D.C. headed by a man named Moshe Shearer. This man, a rabbi, had a very interesting insight into the concept of peace.
One of the oldest practices in Judaism, he said, involves a prayer that concludes with Oseh Shalom. Oseh Shalom is probably the most famous prayer for peace in the Hebrew language – and in my opinion one of the most beautiful, especially when you hear its melody. Translated, it goes something like this:
“May he who makes peace in the high places make peace for us…”
Interestingly, tradition requires you begin by taking three steps back then, as you say the prayer, you bow to the left, to the right and to the front.
Rabbi Sherer taught that the reason for this was to remind us that there is only one way to truly achieve peace among people.
Stepping back represents stepping back from oneself, dropping personal agendas and willingly letting go of those strongly held personal viewpoints. This helps remove obstacles that stand in the way of objectivity. And while pure objectivity may never be achieved, this practice helps you to better understand the viewpoint of your adversary.
But stepping back isn’t enough. Keeping an open mind and striving for objectivity are a critical first step, true, but if we truly want peace we need to be willing to bend. A little bit of compromise (whether it’s the left, the right or the center) is a necessary component to achieving true peace.
May we all learn to step back and be willing to bend - whether it's to the left, to the right or to the center.
Oseh Shalom Bimromav. Hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu. V'yal kol Israel, v'imru Amein.