As the latest round of Mideast peace talks begin anew, we understand the need to be realistic peacemakers, as those who understand the huge risks of making peace, and who are pained by all the deaths and misery and stress that has gone before and may well continue after these next nine months are spent talking. After all, many in our community have close relatives in the IDF, and no one with half a heart and half a brain wants more bloodshed. And certainly, the closer we get to a possible peace agreement, the more likely the terrorists will ramp up the violence to sabotage the talks...and we Jews will say, “Don’t bother.”
The Torah and Talmud are very clear about the pursuit of peace... Tanach and Chazalhave always been more concerned with peace than war. After all, the Torah is a reaction formation against the societies and mores and values that surrounded Am Yisroel back in the pagan tribal days, and the Torah was the first document to ever discuss peace as a normal condition of life. Devorim 20 makes it clear Hashem is our warrior, and anyone who ever committed an aveyrah cannot be a soldier. Even the order to murder Amalek is problematical. See the Rambam in Melochim 6! Devorim states that a Jewish army can’t lay a siege, pillage or rape women in the cities of its enemies with impunity. The Torah also makes it clear that the rulers of the Jewish people need to have a sefer Torah written and kept at their side to remind them that Hashem is the ultimate power.
As it says in Yehoshua 23:3-13, “A single man of you put a thousand of them to flight, for it is Hashem who has fought for you.” Shmuel Alef, 8:19-20 warns the people that there will always be war and taxes if they took on a king, and that doing so is an evil thing to do.
So despite all the pain and tzaar, despite all that has gone before, because of the chaos in the Middle East that has nothing to do with Israel, no matter how much our enemies want to blame Israel for the coups against Morsi and Assad, and Erdogan’s fevered dream of a new Muslim Brotherhood Ottoman Empire being thwarted by, he says, the Israelis, we still, because we are Jews, must give peace a chance. How many times a day do we utter the phrase, “Oseh Shalom Bimromov, Hu Yaaseh Shalom Aleinu vi Al Kol Yisroel, Amen?”Does that phrase carry meaning? If it does, the answer is Rodeph Shalom, pursuing peace.