Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

26 Shevat 5760 - February 2, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Home and Family
Everyday Peace
by Ita Schneider

Peace. A simple enough word, but the meaning behind it and how to attain it is not as simple as it sounds. When people in the media talk about peace, they're generally referring to the Peace Process and Peace Talks. The possibility of non- Torah-oriented policy makers playing around with our boundaries and perhaps the safety of our people makes me cringe at first thought. But instead of falling into a panic, I close my ears, say a quick prayer and remind myself that, after all, Hashem runs the world, not the government and not the media. [Even Dovid Hamelech assures us that He will have the last laugh on those who presume they run the world.]

Then I address my energies towards matters which absorb the majority of my waking hours as a Jewish homemaker. Energy directed towards chessed in and out of the home is certainly a positive step towards peace, a better investment than worrying about matters beyond my control. Amidst the myriad duties, there are a couple of loads of laundry to be processed from hamper to closet, lunch to be made (again) and fifth grade math homework to make peace with -- in Hebrew terms. Go remember the Hebrew definition for an isosceles triangle (when I can barely remember how to spell it for this article) -- time and again, and dealing with it at the home `base'...

My friend and I have decided to do something for the peace process. Don't laugh. If the ripple effect has reached us, it can reach much further! We've begun studying A Lesson a Day based on the laws of shemiras haloshon. The idea really connected when we hit on the page where the Chofetz Chaim speaks of the importance of peace! What kind of peace is he referring to? Not media-`peace'!

I decided to do some research on the subject, and after clearing the kitchen table of crumbs, cornflakes and sugar crystals (how many days until Pesach?), I took out some seforim to see what the Sages say on the matter.

During the times of wicked Achav, the Jewish people were steeped in idolatry, but they lived peaceably among themselves, and were victorious over their enemies. However, during the era of the righteous Yehoshofot, when Jews were well versed in the intricacies of Torah but suffered from petty hatred, they were defeated in battle. How important peace is at the ground level!

Isn't it self evident that life is much more pleasant when we get along? But peace must sometimes be pursued: "Seek peace and run after it." At the expense of one's pride, sometimes, at the expense of expense - spending some money to obtain it.

Sounds nice, but needs practical application. A while ago, I realized one day that a neighbor was no longer responding to my `good mornings and `how are you?s. I couldn't imagine what I had said to hurt her, but she seemed peeved, and I had the unpleasant feeling that she was berogez. I asked a Rebbetzin for advice and she suggested that sometimes, all a person needs to hear are two little words: "I'm sorry." Whether we think it is justified or not. This is the meaning of `peace.' She also suggested buying a token gift.

So came Friday afternoon, just before Shabbos, I knocked on her door, a small pastry in hand. She was pleasantly surprised and whatever negative feelings she had been nursing dissipated right at her doorstep. Daas Torah, a humble spirit and a little luscious pastry. In three small steps peace was restored.

Peace between neighbors may be easier to maintain than domestic peace. Passing by an apartment one day, I overheard loud bickering. It was scary; I felt a need to run away like from a fire. No wonder the Shechina refuses to dwell where there is dissension! As I escaped the scene, I couldn't help wondering if I ever sound like that when I am upset. A humbling thought.

We think we can't control the way others speak, but if we can control the way we do, we can temper their responses through our own good temper. It takes working on a host of good character traits: judging others favorably, including closest relatives! Appreciating the positive and overlooking comments of people when they're uptight and stressed out; using loshon tov, appreciation and building others up. We have our homework cut out, where things are not always fifty- fifty, or the two sides of our triangles not always equal.

But isn't the effort worth it? Giving Hashem some nachas from His children? And blessing us with true peace?


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