PARSHAT NASO: RAV KOOK on ‘THE VOICE OF PEACE’

At the center of Parshat Naso (6:22-26), we find the following instructions to the Kohanim/Priests of Israel:

וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃ The LORD spoke to Moses:

דַּבֵּ֤ר אֶֽל־אַהֲרֹן֙ וְאֶל־בָּנָ֣יו לֵאמֹ֔ר כֹּ֥ה תְבָרְכ֖וּ אֶת־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל אָמ֖וֹר לָהֶֽם׃- Speak to Aaron and his sons: Thus shall you bless the people of Israel. Say to them:

יְבָרֶכְךָ֥ יְהֹוָ֖ה וְיִשְׁמְרֶֽךָ׃- HaShem will  bless you and protect you!

יָאֵ֨ר יְהֹוָ֧ה ׀ פָּנָ֛יו אֵלֶ֖יךָ וִֽיחֻנֶּֽךָּ׃-HaShem will  deal kindly and graciously with you!

יִשָּׂ֨א יְהֹוָ֤ה ׀ פָּנָיו֙ אֵלֶ֔יךָ וְיָשֵׂ֥ם לְךָ֖ שָׁלֽוֹם׃- HaShem will  bestow His favor upon you and grant you peace!

The blessings conclude with the blessing for Shalom/Peace. Rav Kook was a Kohen who would have clearly been the Kohen Gadol/High Priest of Israel if the Beit HaMikdash/Holy Temple was standing in his time. His teachings on war and peace are extensive.

The world has been in the throes of war since Cain murdered Abel at the beginning of recorded history. Currently Israel is engaged in another difficult battle with Hamas.

What would Rav Kook teach us about the dynamics of war and peace? He was in Europe when World War One broke out and witnessed the agony and bloodshed that occurred. Early on while in Switzerland in the second half of 1914 and 1915, he wrote a passage which his primary student, Rabbi David Cohen-HaRav HaNazir entitled ‘Kol HaShalom-The Voice of Peace’.

“Two awesome voices are being heard in the world with a very loud noise. Each one demands that it’s likeness be powerfully dominant. Each one is striving to build it’s building.

The harmonic voice calls for compatibility, positive direction and equality. It is the voice of peace…

And opposing it is the  thunderous voice, sowing confusion, demanding its individual power, struggling to overtake its neighbour. It demands the prominence of its individual identity and the power to swallow up all others. Each attribute thus thunders and the voice of war is heard throughout the world.

Among all the voices the same vocal stream penetrates—that of a supreme voice, a harmonious voice, the uniting, exalting, and guiding voice.

And from the fullness of the world these voices come to every creature, to every spirit and soul, into every heart and mind; to each individual in his individuality, to each collective in its collectivity, and to each nation in its nationality.

The central souls are thirsting for the living vitality of the harmonic voice. In them burns a holy fire, thirsting for peace and they themselves are the angels of peace in this world.” (Eight Notebooks, 5:120)

Israel is called on to be “ מַמְלֶכֶת כֹּהֲנִים וְגוֹי קָדוֹשׁ-A Kingdom of Priests and a Holy Nation.”  We must manifest the harmonious voice, we must kindle the holy fire that thirsts for peace. Thus we will be angels of peace in this world.

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