“Seek Peace! Spread Peace!” A Letter from the Vizhnitzer Rebbe of London

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29 Adar II, The London-Clinic Hospital

With respect to all of the Jews residing in London and around the world:

I feel compelled to write this, to bring awareness to the importance to increase shalom, peace, in our times.

At first, I questioned whether it was appropriate for me to write this. However, now that I am in the hospital, I have had time to contemplate the awesome responsibility someone has when they are able to make a difference and influence others. I spoke with gedolei Yisroel and decided to write this for the Jewish people, in the name of all Jews. For everyone desires peace. And this letter is not meant to speak ill of anyone or a particular community.

It is even more critical and time sensitive to address this issue now, as we are once again seeing signs of ikvesa d’Meshicha. The seforim hakedoshim explain that there have been several times in our history when the world and the Jewish people were ready for the final redemption and the arrival of Moshiach. However, the Soton succeeded in delaying the redemption by increasing disagreements, instilling division and baseless hatred in our communities, the very behaviors that destroyed the Bais Hamikdosh.

We are grateful to Hashem for the incredible increase in Torah, tzedakah and other mitzvos that we have seen in recent times. However, the state of shalom, peace and unity in our generation, is terrible, and it is diminishing every single day. We are at the point where some Jews rejoice not in the success and joy of their fellow Jews, but in their suffering. Some are even on the level of “swallowing their neighbor alive” (Pirkei Avos 3:2), and through this spiteful behavior, they desecrate Hashem’s name in public.

At such a time, there is a tremendous mitzvah for everyone, especially those who are influential, such as rabbonim, teachers, and community leaders, to condemn divisions and arguments, and praise peace and unity. There are countless teachings of Chazal regarding this.

Talking is not enough. We also need to try to place this into action and fulfill the posuk that says, “To seek peace and chase after it” (Tehillim 34:15). And then, “Then the G‑d-fearing conversed with one another” (Malachi 3:16), to make a ruckus and noise in the worlds and to seek advice on how to do this with the many, the entire community, to bring salvation to our people.

Even with large disputes that have deep-seated emotions, disputes that seem impossible to undo, we already know the reality that once you make the effort and start, Hashem helps with the completion. Nothing can stand in the way of a Jew’s will, and the greater light comes from amidst the darkness.

Typically, money is not required to observe this mitzvah. All that is required is that one change their thought process and behavior.

This applies to any of the categories of arguments and hatred, which mainly are:

  1. Baseless Hatred (Sinas Chinom)

Most disputes are born from baseless hatred, built upon rumors, gossip, false ideas, feeling one’s honor is slighted, etc. Most of the time, when you start mediating and speaking to each side, you quickly realize that the entire dispute is based on a simple misunderstanding. There is no real substance behind the arguments. Even when someone was actually harmed or hurt by another, if that person were to look at the other with an ayin tovah, a favorable eye, and would give them the benefit of the doubt, they will immediately push aside that hurt and forgive the other person. As the great tzaddik, the Ahavas Yisroel zt”l, taught, “baseless love” will bring the final redemption.

  1. Monetary Disputes

Whenever there is a conflict or argument over a monetary issue, every Jew needs to think to themselves, and explain to others, that despite this dispute, the byproduct cannot be hatred and controversy. After all, each party only wants what they think is rightfully theirs and nothing more. Since it is difficult to remain objective when a person has an inevitable bias for their own outcome, they must go together to a bais din and seek guidance and an answer to what belongs to whom according to Torah Law. They must adhere to that final judgment free of any emotions, just like when you ask a rov or a bais din a kashrus question. The ruling must be accepted without resentment and without trying to find another heter to rule in your favor. Even in a case where the other party actually caused you to unfairly lose money, you should forgive and move on. Nothing is gained by holding on to controversies for years.

  1. Disputes in Spiritual Matters

There are times when Jews argue about spiritual matters, matters in halacha or Jewish philosophy, etc. In fact, this is how Torah is learned, and the Gemara is filled with disputes and disagreements. However, even when these arguments are necessary, they should never lead to division in our communities. Rather, we should understand that for each opinion, there is a counter, like we see with Bais Shammai and Bais Hillel. The Ahavas Shalom zt”l interprets the phrase when Hashem says that “it is difficult for Me to part from you” to mean that it is difficult for Hashem when He sees division amongst the Jewish people caused by arguments regarding Hashem’s Will.

In order to increase shalom in the world, you need to also observe acts of kindness. We believe in the words of Chazal that nothing good, nothing positive, can come from a squabble. Even those who are involved in disagreement and division have an inner desire for peace. They have drifted into these behaviors mistakenly, and now it is hard for them to find their way out. They feel imprisoned without an escape plan. However, if someone can overcome this temptation, if they can withstand the desire to enter into these disputes and arguments even within their family, they will dance with simcha and see positive outcomes even in their physical lives.

Joyful are those who have a portion in this work, in this effort, especially the leaders of the community who are the talmidei chachomim who bring peace and tranquility into this world. This is a tremendous merit for them and their forefathers. Bringing peace into this world is one of the mitzvos that a person merits to “eat its fruits in this world and a portion in the World to Come.”

I recently heard that my father, the rebbe zt”l, once told a prestigious Jew who managed to bring peace to a big argument that he envied his portion in the World to Come.

These leaders and influential individuals – or anyone who is involved in this critical work of increasing peace in the world – also have a unique merit in helping bring the final redemption closer. I would apply to these Jews what I had heard from the Satmar Rov zt”l regarding another matter, that when Moshiach comes, he will point with his finger and say that it was these Jews who brought the redemption.

May it be Hashem’s Will that in the merit of this work, you will merit and receive all the blessings, like it is taught that Hashem was unable to find a vessel to hold His blessings for the Jews except for peace.

May we receive healing and recovery from illness and salvations in this month when redemption and salvation are overpowering. This is alluded to in the tefillah we say every morning that Hashem “makes peace and creates everything.” The Hebrew word for “create” is rooted in the same word as health. Through making peace, we can bring recovery to all of the suffering and ailments of the Jewish people. And, as when we left the land of Egypt with miracles and wonders, may we quickly see wonders in our day. Amein.

 

 

 

 


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