Tetzave – Levels of Peace in the World

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“Shalom, peace, is one of the most exalted character traits in existence, for it is one of Hashem’s names, as it says: ‘And he called to Him Hashem, Shalom’(Shoftim6:24).” The Maalos Hamiddos also says: “Any place peace is found, fear of Heaven can be found, and any place peace cannot be found, fear of Heaven cannot be found” (Maalos Hamiddos, chapter 24, ma’alas HaShalom).

If one Googles the definition of the word peace he will find: peace [pees] NOUN
1. The normal, nonwarring condition of a nation, group of nations, or the world.
2. (Often initial capital letter) an agreement or treaty between warring or antagonistic nations, groups, etc., to end hostilities and abstain from further fighting or antagonism: the Peace of Ryswick.
3. A state of mutual harmony between people or groups, especially in personal relations: Try to live in peace with your neighbors.
4. The normal freedom from civil commotion and violence of a community; public order and security: He was arrested for being drunk and disturbing the peace.
5. Cessation of or freedom from any strife or dissension.

Yet Rashi says in this week’s haftorah for the Torah portion of Tetzaveh: “I found the following: The second Aliyah to the Holy Land through Ezra was merited to be like the first entry through Yehoshua, to come about by force and through a miracle, as expounded (Berachos 4a, Shemos 15:16); ‘until…pass.’ This building [of the beis hamikdash] would then have been fit for them as of then, when they emerged from exile, to an everlasting redemption. But their sin caused this not to happen for their repentance was not suitable, i.e. they did not resolve to stop sinning. Therefore, they emerged to freedom only through the sanction of Cyrus and his son.” (Rashi on Yechezkel 43:11) (Click here and here for Hebrew text.)

According to Rashi, the world could have been a totally different place if the Jewish people would have repented 100% and would have decided with complete resolve to not sin ever again; Moshiach would have come. It would seem that the dimensions of the beis hamikdash would have been different than the way in which the second beis hamikdash was actually built. The dimensions described in Yechezkel, the Radak and others say, were that of the third beis hamikdash, may it come speedily in our days. But, in fact, if Moshiach would have come and this would have been the final, perfected version of mankind, then the architecture of the second beis hamikdash would have been, as Yechezkel describes, the third. The process of returning the Land of Israel would have been different as well; instead of Cyrus and his son peacefully allowing the Jewish people to return to their homeland after 70 years of exile and rebuilding the beis hamikdash, Ezra and the rest of the Jewish people would have conquered the land by force, presumably from the Persians, with open miracles, just as Yehoshua and the Jewish people did when conquering the land back in their day.

If peace is so important that the Mishna in Pirkei Avos says: “On three things the world exists, on judgement, on truth, and on peace” (Avos 1:18), and the Maalos Hamiddos further says: “My son, come and see how great the power of peace is, that even the enemy, Hashem says, one should offer them peace, as it says, ‘When you come close to a city to wage war upon it, and you shall first offer it peace’ (Devarim 20:10),” then why was Hashem ready to take back the Land of Israel by force with miracles in order to set the stage for the final redemption and the coming of Moshiach, if Cyrus and his son were willing to peacefully hand it over to them, as they in fact did?

It would seem that there are two states of peace, which by definition means there are two definitions, or levels of peace. One is a compromise, a state of being where there is officially no fighting, no violence, all is serene and peaceful; but it is not necessarily permanent or guaranteed.

However, Hashem in His Divine understanding and with ultimate goals, has another peace in mind, one which we in fact pray for at the end of our Shemone Esrei in Sim Shalom and conclude as we take 3 steps back: “He who makes peace in His heights, may He make peace upon us,and upon all of Israel.” Peace in Hebrew, Shalom, comes from the root ש.ל.מ., complete or full, i.e. perfection. Hashem’s ultimate state of peace is perfection, a time when the entire world will be ready to embrace Him as The Creator of the Universe, King of all Kings, The Holy One Blessed Be He.

It would seem that there are certain times in history when it is more opportune for this state to come about, though it is possible at any moment. One of these times could have been the rebuilding of the second beis hamikdash, but in order for this perfect state to exist, (A) the Jewish People had to have fully committed themselves to a state of perfection, not to sin ever again. (It would seem that at the time they reached a level possibly higher than what was reached at Mount Sinai when they reaccepted the Torah out of pure love of Hashem after the miracle of Purim as it says in Shabbos 88a, but on some tiny, tiny, minute level they must not have fully accepted to not sin ever again, therefore they were not deserving of the ultimate redemption). However, (B) hand in hand with the ultimate redemption and a state of completion in the world, everyone else, all the non-Jews would have to be ready to accept this yoke of Heaven, in their own right. It would seem that if Moshiach and a new advent in history was ready to take place then being under the control of the Persians and then being let go back to our home land to rebuild the beis hamikdash would have been a sign of their control and power, with all their viewpoints and ways that would have clashed with the ultimate state of perfection. Therefore, force and miracles would have to have been taken to annihilate any other power and to show the world that Hashem is in reality the only Truth.

It would not seem that Hashem would generally advocate violence; on the contrary, the harmony of everything in nature is run through peace, and order, night, day, land and oceans, stars, planets, galaxies even the angels all need peace in order to be unified and not to collide or swallow up each other, but this is only part of the perfection of the world which Hashem has created. Hashem is waiting for us to join this state of peace and perfection and on the contrary Hashem is very deliberate with His ways and would prefer all of humanity to acknowledge and live by the knowledge of His existence and Oneness but if the time comes and humanity as a whole is not ready to accept perfection then with calculated force and miracles, not brutal violence, Hashem’s greatness will shine and be made clear throughout the entire world, may it come speedily in our days!

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