גדול הוא השלום

GREAT  IS  PEACE

1. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi [1] said,
“Great is peace,
for it’s like leaven is to dough. [2]
If the Blessed Holy One hadn’t given peace to the world,
sword and beast would devour up the whole world,
as it’s written:
‘I’ll give peace in the land…and cause evil beasts to cease out of the land,
nor shall the sword go through your land…’ [3]
‘Land’ means nothing other than ‘Israel,’ as is stated:
‘All nations shall call you happy; for you shall be an enviable land.’ [4]
It’s written:
‘A generation goes, a generation comes, but the earth endures forever.’ [5]
King Solomon meant:
‘Although one generation passes and another comes, one kingdom passes and another comes, one decree passes and another comes from those who hate Israel, still Israel endures forever.’
G-d doesn’t abandon them; they’re never abandoned. They’re never annihilated, nor do they decrease, as is written:
‘For I, G-d, don’t change: you, sons of Jacob, haven’t ceased to be’ (i.e., as I’ve never changed and will never change, so you, sons of Jacob, have never ceased and will never cease to be) [6]
and:
‘You that cleaved to the L-rd your G-d are alive, every one of you, this day’. [7

2. There [in the Babylonian Yeshiva] they taught,
    “Rabban Shimon ben Gamaliel [8] used to say,
‘By three things the world endures: Justice, Truth, and Peace’. [9]
[About which]
      Rabbi Muna [10] said,
‘The three are one,
because if justice is done, truth has been effected and peace brought about;
and all three are mentioned in one verse, as it’s stated,
‘Execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates.’ [11]
Wherever there’s true justice, there’s peace (and wherever there’s true peace, there’s justice).”

3. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi [1] said,
“Great is peace,
for at the time Israel arose and said,
‘All that G-d has spoken will we do and obey,’ [12]
the Blessed Holy One was pleased to give them His Torah and bless them with peace, as it’s written:
‘G-d will bless his people with peace’. [13] “

4. Hezekiah [14] said,
“Great is peace,
for at every mitzvah [commandment] in Torah it’s written ‘if,’
as, for instance, ‘If you meet,’ [15] etc.,
which means: if such a thing happens to you, you must do the mitzvah.
But what’s written concerning peace?
‘Seek peace, and pursue it,’ [16]
which means:
Seek peace at the place where you are,
and if you don’t find it, seek it in other places.

5. Hezekiah [14] said,
“Great is peace:
about all of Israel’s journeys it’s written:
‘…they journeyed [ויסעו] . . . and . . . pitched [ויחנו],’
[the Hebrew being in the plural suggesting disunity] means that they journeyed in strife and encamped in strife. [17]
But when they came to Sinai, there was no more strife; they encamped in peace, as is written:
‘..Israel encamped [ויחן]…”
(the Hebrew verb is singular, suggesting unity; i.e., all Israel were united). [18]
The Blessed Holy One then said:
‘Because Israel hates discord and loves peace and all are united,
this is a favorable time and I’ll give them My Torah.’
Adoniah, the son of David, was killed because he was quarrelsome.
It’s permitted to support the accusation [against] a quarrelsome man,
as Natan the prophet did when Bat-Sheva accused Adoniah [David’s son and heir]:
‘[Natan said] I myself will come in after you, and confirm your words,’ [19]
     as Rabbi Yehudah Ha-Nasi [20] said:
‘All lying is prohibited, except to make peace between one and his neighbor’.” [21]

6. Bar Kappara [22] said,
“Great is peace,
for we find that Torah [*] modified a statement
to maintain peace between Avraham and Sarah.
At first it’s stated:
‘Sarah laughed within herself, saying…my lord being old,’ [23]
but in the end it’s written,
I who am old’.” [24]

7. Bar Kappara [22] said,
“Great is peace,
for we find that ‘Prophets’ [**], too, modified a statement
to maintain peace between Manoah and Chanah (his wife).
At first it’s written:
‘Behold, no you are barren…but you shall conceive and bare a son,’ [25]
but in the end it’s written,
‘Behold you shall conceive and bare a son,’  [26]
and there is no mention of the words ‘behold you are barren’.”

8. Bar Kappara [22] said,
“Great is peace,
as among the angels there’s no [qualities of]
animosity, jealousy, hatred, commanding, or quarrelling,
because the Blessed Holy One has made peace among them, as it’s written:
‘Dominion [משל] and dread [פחד] are with Him; He makes peace in His high places.’ [27] [***]
‘Dominion’ is the angel Michael and ‘Dread’ is Gabriel,
one of whom is ‘fire’ and the other ‘water’.
Yet still they don’t injure each other,
for the Blessed Holy One has made peace between them.
How much more do human beings, 
in whom are all these qualities,
need peace?”

9. Rabbi Yishmael [28] said,
“Great is peace,
for we find that the Blessed Holy One allowed His Name,
though written in holiness,
to be blotted out in water,
to restore peace between husband and wife.” [29]

10. Rabbi Yehoshua [30] said,
“Great is peace,
in that the covenant of the priests was made with peace,
as it’s written:
‘I give him My covenant of peace’.” [31]

11. Rabbi Yehoshua [30] said.
“The name of the Holy One, blessed be He, is also ‘Peace’ (Shalom),
as it’s written:
‘And called it Adonai-Shalom’.” [32]
      Rabbi Hiyya bar Abba [33] said,
“Therefore, it can be deduced that
a person may not extend a greeting of peace to his fellow in a place of filth,
because it’s stated:
‘Gideon built an altar there and called it ‘Adonai-Shalom.’ [34]
Now, if an altar
— that does not eat, drink or smell
and was erected only to make atonement for the sins of Israel —
is called ‘Peace,’
how much moreso he who loves peace, and pursues peace,
who welcomes people with the greeting of peace and responds with peace
and who maintains peace between Israel and their Father in Heaven!”
      Rabbi Yosi the Galilean [35] said,
“Even the name of the Moshiach [Messiah]
is called ‘Peace’
as it’s stated
‘His name is called … ‘Prince Peace’.” [36

12. Rabbi Yehoshua [30] said,
“Great is peace,
for Israel is called ‘Peace,’
as it’s written:
‘…the seed of peace…’ [37]
Who is ‘peace’?
The seed [i.e. Israel] is ‘peace’.” [38]

13. Rabbi Yosi the Galilean [35] said,
“When King Moshiach [the Messiah] reveals himself to Israel,
he’ll begin only with peace,
as it’s written:
‘How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet
of the messenger of good news,
who proclaims peace…’.” [39]

14. He also said,
“Great is peace,
because even in a time of war,
one should begin with peace,
as it’s written:
‘When you near a city to war against it,
[first] call out to it for peace’.” [40]

15. Rabbi Yehoshua [30] said,
“In the future,
the Blessed Holy One
will uphold the righteous with peace,
as it’s written:
“Thou keepest him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee…’.” [41]

16. Again he said,
“Great is peace,
because it’s given to the living as well as the dead:
To the living, as it’s written:
‘Yitro [Jethro] said to Mosheh, ‘Go in peace’.’ [42]
To the dead, as it’s written:
“…you’ll come to your fathers [i.e. die] in peace’.” [43]

17. Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel [8] said,
“Great is peace,
for we find that the tribes [44] reported an untrue statement
in order to maintain peace
between Yosef [Joseph] and his brothers,
as it’s stated:
‘Your father [Yakov/Jacob] commanded before he died, saying,
‘Say to Yosef,
‘Forgive, I beg you,
your brothers’ transgression and sin,’ [45]
but we don’t find that Yakov had given them any such command.”

18. Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel [8] said,
“Great is peace,
for Aharon [Aaron], the High Priest,
was praised [****] only for peace.
He loved peace, pursued peace,
greeted with peace [‘Shalom Aleichem’]
and answered with it [‘Aleichem Shalom’],
as it’s written:
‘He walked with Me [G-d] in uprightness and peace…’ [46]
      It teaches:
when he saw two people hating each other,
he’d first go to one and say,
‘Why do you hate so-and-so?
He’s already come to my house, prostrated himself before me and said,
‘I sinned against so-and-so. Please, go pacify him’.’
When he [Aharon] left this one,
he went to the other and said the same thing to him,
making peace, love and friendship between one person and another.
What’s written after that [in TaNaCh]?
‘…for he [Aharon] is G-d’s messenger [or angel]’.” [47]

19. Rabbi Yehoshua of Sakhnin [48] said in the name of Rabbi Levi [49],
“Great is peace,
in that all the benedictions and prayers conclude with ‘peace.’
The ‘Shema’ concludes with ‘peace’  — ‘…spread the tent of Your peace;’ [50]
the ‘Priests’ Blessing’ concludes with peace — ‘and give you peace;’ [51]
and the ‘Shemonah Esrei/Amidah’ concludes, ‘Bless You, Who makes peace’.” [52]

20. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi [1] said, 
“The Blessed Holy One said to Israel,
‘You’ve caused Me to destroy My house
and exile My children.
Now, pray for peace and I’ll forgive you,’
as it’s written:
‘Pray for the peace of Jerusalem’ [53]
and
‘Peace be within your walls’ [54]
and
‘Peace be within you’.” [55]
Therefore,
he who loves peace, runs after peace,
greets with ‘peace’ and answers with ‘peace,’
the Blessed Holy One makes to inherit
the life of this world and the life of the world to come,
as it’s written:
‘…the meek shall inherit the land,
and delight themselves because of the abundant peace’.” [56]

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

[1] see: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joshua_ben_Levi  and  http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/112287/jewish/Rabbi-Joshua-Ben-Levi.htm

[2] The Pesach/Passover story notwithstanding, leaven is ordinarily a necessary element in causing dough to become enjoyable bread to eat. R. Yehoshuah says that peace is similarly necessary to make the world an enjoyable place to live.

[3] Vayikra/Lev. 26: 6

[4] Mal. 3:12

[5] Kohelet/Eccl. 1: 4

[6] Mal. 3: 6

[7] D’varim/Deut. 4:4

[8] see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shimon_ben_Gamliel

[9] Pirkei Avot 1:18 (Soncino)

[10] Rav Muna edited the Jerusalem Talmud in c. 350 CE

[11] Zachariah/Zech. 8:16

[12] Shemot/Ex. 24:7

[13] Tehillim/Ps. 29:11

[14] see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hezekiah_(Amora)

[15] Shemot/Ex. 23:4

[16] Tehillim/Ps. 34:15

[17] Bamidbar/Num. 33:5 [In Hebrew, “journeyed” and “pitched” are in the plural; “the plural number implying that they journeyed in dissension and pitched (camp]) in dissension” (Soncino Talmud commentary)]

[18] Shemot/Ex. 19: 2

[19] I Kings 1:14

[20] see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judah_the_Prince  and  http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/112279/jewish/Rabbi-Judah-the-Prince.htm

[21] see: Avot de Rabbi Natan XII

[22] see: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bar_Kappara

[*] Bar Kappara demonstrates the greatness of peace with reference to the entire TaNaCh. He begins with Torah.

[23] Ber./Gen. 18:12

[24] Ber./Gen. 18:13  G-d repeats Sarah’s statement, but conceals from Avraham that Sarah had referred to him as being “old.”

[**] Bar Kappara quotes from “N’vi’im/Prophets,” the second section of TaNaCh/Hebrew Scriptures. The book of “Shoftim/Judges” falls within the “N’vi’im/Prophets” section.

[25] Shoftim/Judges 13:3

[26] ibid. 13:7  In the text, Chana herself changes the angel’s wording.

[27] Ayov/Job 25: 2

[***] Bar Kappara quotes from Ayov/Job, which falls within the “Ketuvim/Writings” section of TaNaCh. Here he completes his reference to each of the three sections of TaNaCh, implying that the greatness of peace is found in the entire TaNaCh.

[28] see: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabbi_Ishmael

[29] Bamidbar/Num. 5:21 (the curse, including G-d’s Name); 23 (rinsing it into water)

[30] see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joshua_ben_Hananiah,
or
http://agudasachim.org/education/adult-education/rabbi-mitchs-pages/rabbi-joshua/
or
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0011_0_10356.html

[31] Bamidbar/Num. 25:12

[32] Shoftim/Judges 6:24

[33] see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiyya_bar_Abba

[34] Shoftim/Judges 6:24 (see Soncino commentary)

[35] see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jose_the_Galilean

[36] Yishiyahu/Isa. 9: 5. I modified the translation for clarity. [שר שלום] is usually translated “Prince of Peace.”

[37] Zachariah/Zech. 8:12

[38] Rabbi Yehoshua seems to be playing on the word “seed” as a metaphor for “child” — i.e. the Children of Israel.

[39] Yishiyahu/Isa. 52:7. “Peace” is the first of several things that Moshiach will proclaim, and therefore the most important.

[40] D’varim/Deut. 20:10

[41] Yishiyahu/Isa. 26:3. I cited the King James translation, rather than a modern English one, because I’ve always liked the poetry of the KJ translation of this verse.

[42Shemot/Ex. 4:18

[43] Bereishith/Gen. 15:15

[44] Yakov’s other sons; or, it’s implied, members of their tribes/families spoke to Yosef on their behalf

[45] Bereishith/Gen. 15:16

[****] Aharon’s praised by being called G-d’s “messenger” or “angel” at the end of this paragraph.

[46] Malachi 2:6

[47] ibid. 2:7. The Hebrew word [מלאך] means both “messenger” and “angel.”

[48] “…was a fourth generation Eretz Yisrael Amora. He was a student of Rabbi Levi and a friend of Rabbi Yossi of Malachia. Often can be found quoting the Aggadic words of his teacher throughout the Talmud Yirushalmi and Midrashim. In the Talmud Bavli, Rabbi Yehoshua of Sakhnin is mentioned only once. He was the spiritual leader of the town of Sichnin and was buried there upon his passing.” (www.zissil.com/topics/Rabbi-Yehoshua-of-Sakhnin; the link seems no longer active);
and (on the town of Sakhnin or “Sikhnin”) —
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sakhnin

[49]  http://www.zissil.com/topics/Rabbi-Levi-bar-Sisi
see also:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levi_ben_Sisi

[50] The end of the 2nd blessing after the evening Shema in Shabbat/Festival prayers

[51] based on Bamidbar/Num. 6:26

[52] [עשה שלום]

[53] Tehillim/Ps. 122:6

[54] ibid. vs. 8

[55] ibid.

[56] Tehillim/Ps. 37:11.
Rabbi Levi means:
“the meek [or humble; those who are peaceful and patient, especially in suffering] shall inherit the land” — i.e. this world —
“and delight themselves because of the abundant peace” — i.e. in the world-to-come.