Parshios Behar & Bechukosai
The Peace We Seek
By Rabbi Label Lam
If you will follow My decrees and observe My commandments and perform
them, then I will provide your rains in their time, and the land will give
its produce and the tree of the field will gives its fruit. Your threshing
will last until the vintage and the vintage will last until the sowing;
you will eat your bread to satiety and you will dwell securely in the
land. I will grant Shalom in the land... (Vayikra 26:3-6)
If you will follow My decrees: That you should be striving in Torah
I will grant Shalom: Maybe you’ll say well there’s plenty of food and
there’s drink too but you should know that without peace there is nothing.
All these things and then “I will grant you peace” teaches us that peace
is equivalent to everything. (Rashi)
What is this ingredient called “Shalom”?
Under normal circumstances increased material goods tend to complicate
life, as the Mishne in Avos states, “The more possessions the more
worry!” Rebbe Nachman made the following profound observation; “The more
money a person has the further it is removed from him while the more Torah
a person has the closer it becomes.” If one has $100.00 it is likely in
his pocket. If he has $100,000.000 it’s in a bank. If one has millions of
dollars the money is scattered throughout the globe diversified in a
variety investments. However if one learns a single Mishne it stands
outside his heart. As one continues to learn chapters and tractates the
understanding of the original Mishne is greatly improved and internalized.
To the untutored eye material and spiritual pursuits seem to be at odds
with each other.
Our Sages tells us, “One cannot find a vessel to retain blessings stronger
than Shalom.” “Shalom” serves to prioritize and harmonize all the various
goods so that they do not negate one another in the war for our attention.
How can this be achieved?
Many years ago a remarkable “believe it or not” style story was reported
in France. An extraordinarily wealthy businessman received terrifying news
from his accountant. Without realizing it his fortune was drastically
reduced within a short period. Instead of having hundreds of millions he
was suddenly made aware that he was worth only tens of millions. The shock
was so great that he immediately died of a heart attack. The wealthy
businessman had no children. The sole heir to his remaining fortune was a
nephew who was a life long struggling artist. When he was informed that
his uncle had left him tens of millions of Francs as an inheritance he was
so shocked by the news that he too died of a sudden heart attack.
As bizarre as it sounds, and I admit it’s extra bizarre, both were struck
with the same exact report. For one the number was frighteningly small and
for the other the same number was shockingly large.
It can easily be observed that so much of what we hope for in the best of
relationships finds a weaker substitute in the marketplace: We are sold on
the notion of Securities, Bonds, Mutuals, Providence, Trust, Futures. The
promise of “Shalom” we speak of here, however, is preceded by a striving
to learn and to fulfill the precepts of Torah. Those supernal principles
of organization “whose “paths are peace” form the foundation of- the peace
Text Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.