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The Gift of Peace

By Paula Stern
1/29/2010, 12:00 AM
What a misleading title that is...the gift of peace. No, I don't really believe Israel and the Middle East will see peace any time soon. I could point fingers at the Arab countries who refuse to accept our existence, to the Palestinians who continue on the path of violence. I could list the rock throwing, firebombing, ongoing rocket attacks and tell you how many Arabs were caught with how many knives this week in varying lengths.

I could write of our current and past leadership that showed weakness to an enemy that thrives on it and to a world that accepts, again and again, the injustice of blaming the victim rather than finding the true cause.

There is no gift of peace any time soon in the Middle East - no matter what other leaders such as Barack Hussein Obama mistakenly believes or wants to believe. His suggestion that everyone is responsible for blocking peace...Netanyahu, the right-wing, the left-wing, perhaps the last man on the moon...shows he understands nothing.

I can tell you of increasingly dangerous armaments, or Iran's nuclear plans and Europe's blindness. I can write of Al Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah - all born of the same violent cloth, and I can write of all that threatens the future here and where you are too...but that would be the opposite of my direction for today.

Because despite all that I have written so far, the truth is simply that peace will come - today, in fact...in not so many hours.It will come for a brief time only - sad, but true...at last so far. Today is Friday - the first day of our brief weekend, the last work day for some. It's a day of preparation here in Israel - we are preparing for tomorrow.What I love about Fridays is that they represent endings and beginnings.

We are saying goodbye to the past week - whatever we didn't do...we let go. It will be there on Sunday and need to be done. Whatever disappointments we had, whatever didn't go right...Sunday will come and allow us yet another chance to correct it. So we end and know on Sunday we will begin again.Shabbat, Saturday, is about cleansing - your house, your body, your mind, your soul.

It's about taking time to make a bigger, better meal than you had time for the rest of the week. Taking more time for your family, longer discussions - and not about work and daily pressures. It's about putting away the trappings of this world - the phones, the computers, the televisions, the cars...whatever.It is so symbolic of where I am in my life.

Shabbat is the day in between last week and next week - and yet it has a character all its own. It is a moment of calm because psychologically you really do succeed in forgetting the past and the future. If ever time were to stop...this is the moment we would want to hold. If tomorrow never comes...we can actually relish staying here in this moment.Elie is finishing the army.

Shmulik is beginning. This transition period has its own character, its own sweetness. What will Elie do after the army? Will he really leave it or choose at the last minute to continue (as some do)? I don't know and won't know until one or the other happens.Will Shmulik go into the Tank Division? So far, it is looking strongly that he won't. Kfir? Givati? Golani? Does it really matter in the end? I won't know where he is going for a few more days or weeks.

But there is peace coming today - peace in having Shmulik home, in knowing that Elie is returning right after Shabbat for a special course he will attend next week. Peace in knowing that he isn't really in a dangerous place. His checkpoint, though surrounded by Arab villages, is in a relatively quiet place and the base itself is well located and secure. Next week, he'll be sleeping at home each night - a whole week of seeing him each evening.

There is peace in the smell of food filling the house; the candles set and ready to be lit on the small table near the mirror. The gift of peace is one that comes each week with the Sabbath...and leaves with it as well. To live in a world of quiet, of family, of home - it is a taste of better times to come. When? I don't know but with the Sabbath comes the knowledge that we can survive the whole week, month, year, and the decades and centuries because each week we are given that small bit of time in which we pull into ourselves and our families.

May God grant peace to the world, to Israel, His people.

May He grant peace to the medics and rescue workers who have returned from Haiti; and to little Wadley Elysee, a six-year old Haitian child suffering from severe heart defects. Wadley's medical record was sent to Israel several months ago, but there was no way to get him to Israel for surgery that he needs to save his life. Without the surgery, Wadley would probably not live to see the age of 10. While in Haiti, Israeli doctors took the time to find him amidst all the chaos and destruction. Wadley and his mother were flown back to Israel with the returning aid mission and he will soon have his surgery, another gift from Israel. May Wadley know the peace of Shabbat and live a long and healthy and happy life.

And finally, to my sons - to the three...and to the two. To each of them, to all of them. May you always cherish the Sabbath as a time of peace, no matter what wars you are called upon to fight in the future. May you be safe everywhere you go, blessed for your service and know that wherever you go, you take my prayers and my love.

Shabbat shalom.