The concept of “peace” has been so badly distorted in this generation, that the very mention of the word has come to represent a specific political point of view. What is even worse is that when an opposing point of view adopts this concept, they are compelled to adopt the same axioms of the “new” and twisted interpretation of the concept of peace.
The Torah Policy of Peace
Though it is not an easy task, we suggest examining the original concept of “peace” as it was meant to be understood in our sources. In such a way we will be able to map out our “basic policy guidelines” for Torah peace that, with G-d’s help, will eventually guide the Jewish government in the land of Israel.
The original source for learning the proper interpretation for the concept of “peace” is from Pinchas, who embodies the ultimate man of peace. Why him? Because he is the man who G-d Himself chose to give the covenant of peace. Such a covenant was not even given to his grandfather Aaron the Cohen, who was coined “lover and pursuer of peace”! Pinchas’ attribute of “peace” was on a higher level than Aaron’s. In this article we will try to understand why.
Peace with the Wicked is not Peace
The question that begs asking in Parshat Pinchas is: “Why was Pinchas given of all things, the covenant of peace? Wouldn’t it have been more appropriate to give him the covenant of zealousness, or the covenant of saving Israel, or the convenant of saving the honor of Israel, etc. Does not Pinchas’ act of killing represent the absolute opposite of today’s concept of “peace”??
It is this very question which portrays the confusion and perversion of concepts relating to the idea of “peace”. After all, what has peace come to mean today? It means shaking hands with evil (and the more evil he is, the grander the peace is, for “peace you make with enemies”), saying “Peace, Shalom, Saalam,” and being photographed on the White House lawn – hoping that now they will stop killing you. In other words, the new and distorted concept of “peace” means that one comes to terms, or makes peace with the evil.
Obviously, for any logically thinking person, this definition does not go down “smooth”. After all, normal instincts say that no good can come about by giving in to evil and making peace with it. Nonetheless, many people get dragged along behind the distorted interpretion, due to lack of an alternate interpretion. And so, against their will, they take the lofty and holy concept of “peace” – and start defining it in ways that they themselves have doubts about.
First Step – Uprooting of Evil
What we must do then, is to rescue the concept of peace, and define it properly so that we can restore the holiness of the concept. By doing so, not only will we know the Jewish definition of the concept, but we will have the added benefit of not having to associate the holy concept of peace with the abominable ideas of murdereous Western leaders!
Pinchas’ act of killing Zimri and afterwards meriting the peace covenantteaches us that the Torah’s way of bringing peace is by making the world a better place. The first step towards this goal is the uprooting of evil and evil-doers from the world. “Sur Me Rah” – turn from evil, or remove evil – this is the first step in making the world a better place. On the other hand, making peace with evil, or even worse, giving in to it, is the very opposite step that one can take if he wants to arrive at peace.
Peace is not the mixing of good and evil and the attempt to create acoexistence between them, as we have been trained to think! The very opposite. There is no coexistence between good and evil, nor is there partnership between good people and evil people! The Master of the Universe expects from the righteous that they will burn out the evil from the world – “and you shall burn out the evil from thy midst”, the Torah commands us in so many places – and only in such a way will peace reign in the world.
Pincahs Didn’t Cry
This concept is so powerful, that the sages compare the offering of sacrifices on the altar which is a symbol of peace — to the killing of the wicked. “To teach you, that when the blood of the wicked is spilled, it is as if a sacrifice was offered”. (Tanchuma, Pinchas, 1) For these are the two sides to the peace – remove yourself from evil – do good. There is not one without the other.
That is why Pinchas was worthy of receiving the peace coveneant. For when all the leaders, including Moshe and Aaron cried (“and they cried”) from the wicked’s threat, hiding themselves in their tents or in their yeshivas, the younger Pinchas arose, and eradicated the evil. True, his grandfather Aaron was a symbol of the love and pursual of peace, but evidently he was weaker in the area of uprooting evil. And since there is no peace without the purging of evil, Aaron had to leave the peace covenant for his grandson Pinchas, who was able to intergrate both sides of the peace.
“As long as the wicked rule in the world, so to speak, the Holy One Blessed Be He does not sit on his throne.” (Yilkot Shmoney, Tehilim 47)