- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On September 30, 2016
- 0 Comments
Welcome again to Shabbat Awakenings, a weekly reflection as we move toward Shabbat. This week we honor the memory of Israel’s leader, Shimon Peres.
Today is the funeral of Shimon Peres. The world still needs people like him. The Jewish people especially. His passion for peace, for progress, and for possibility formed the foundation of his life. He didn’t end up where he started. He immigrated to Israel as a boy and worked as as a kibbutz shepherd, but he finished his life as a shepherd of a different sort, guiding Israel on a path toward stability by building upon and fostering relationships with the various populations within and surrounding Israel. He aimed for optimism in a neighborhood that made it difficult to be positive.
Shimon Peres, as President, Prime Minister, and perpetual statesman showed that our lives continue to evolve. He fostered Israel’s might as its military strategic architect in the earlier years of the nation but modeled that it is possible to negotiate toward peace as he did with the Oslo Accords. His was the observation that one does not make peace with friends but rather with enemies. He sought to take his own advice. As President Obama said, “Peres’ commitment to Israel’s security and pursuit of peace was rooted in his own unshakeable moral foundation and unflagging optimism.”
Rather than remain static he became a dynamic exemplar of how to continue to chase progress and build upon relationship. He appreciated how much Israel could start up again and again with new discoveries and modern technology. He could have represented the past; and it would have been a magnificent legacy, but he pursued what was still possible as a beacon of hope for the future.
He demonstrated by his life what this week’s Torah portion speaks of when it says, “You stand this day all of you…from woodchopper to the water drawer…to enter into the covenant with the Eternal your God.” (Deuteronomy 29:9) Each person could be part of the Divine promise. Each soul could be included. Shimon Peres embodied this kind of inclusion by calling upon his fellow citizens in Israel and its neighbors to stand together and reach for peace. He did not see it as “too far away or too out of reach but rather in one’s heart and mouth to achieve it.” It remained his belief to the end of his life.
The Torah places the choice before us: blessing or curse, life or death. (Deuteronomy 31:19) Shimon Peres, over the course of his many experiences and exposure to war, violence, compromise and acceptance, chose life and with that blessing.
Though we cannot yet say that peace is upon the world, for Shimon Peres, who sought after it in his life, we can say Alav Hashalom, May peace be upon him into eternity.
As we join together for Shabbat and then for the New Year 5777, I wish you and your family hope, optimism, and perseverance for goodness and justice.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts and reactions. Please feel free to connect with me here. I’m grateful for the many responses and comments you have sent to me.