Our Sages taught, “Peace is great; discord is despised.” We are deeply shaken by the upheaval and discord that has gripped our beloved State of Israel. In recent weeks, the Jewish tradition and the democratic value of vigorous debate have been replaced by something very dangerous and different. This is not the time to lay blame on one side or the other; it is the time to place the responsibility on all sides to lead us to a better place. The pause declared today provides a critical opportunity for the people of Israel and for Jews everywhere to find a way to come back together.
At times of substantive disagreement, the promotion of peace, unity, and stability may be seen as naive. This is not the case today as advancing internal peace and unity is the critical priority and responsibility of all Israeli and Jewish leaders. Unity, achdut, will not be achieved by those who seek political or other benefit from the continuation of the struggle. It will be achieved by strong, firm, and calming voices from all ranks of leadership whose priorities are peace, unity, and stability, bringing people off the streets and into conversation.
We salute and encourage those in Israel’s governing coalition and in the opposition who are acting with the recognition of the value of taking time, engaging with each other with honesty and humility, and proceeding to build consensus. All of us must speak and act in ways that promote peace, restoring proportion to the public debate, humanizing both sides, and recognizing and celebrating every step towards consensus and every bit of progress achieved.
We must sincerely pray that G-d send His light and His truth to Israel’s leaders and direct them with good counsel. And we must intensify our individual and communal prayers for peace, Shalom, in our ranks. As we say at the conclusion of every one of our prayers and every recitation of the kaddish, “Oseh Shalom bimromav Hu ya’aseh Shalom aleinu, May He Who makes peace in His highest places bring peace upon us and upon all Israel,” Amen.