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May 13, 2012 / conservadox

Dvar Torah- Behar-Bechukothai

This week’s portion, the last one of Leviticus, closes with a list of blessings and curses.  One of the blessings is “peace in the land.” (Lev. 26:6).  You might think that this means the absence of war.  But Nachmanides lists numerous possible meanings for the phrase “peace” including:

1.  “peace among you, and no man shall fight among his brother” (i.e. no conflict or civil war within Israel).

2.  God “will cause evil beasts to cease out of the land” (i.e. no predatory animals, and perhaps more broadly no other natural disasters)

3.  “you will pursue your enemies” (i.e. victory in war, as opposed to the absence of same)

4. a mystical “all-inclusive peace”.

In other words, the term “peace”, which seems so simple, has an enormous variety of possible meanings.  And to get political, if your enemies say they want “peace” it might not mean what you think it means (at least if your enemy has read Nachmanides!)

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