Shmuel Sackett
Shmuel SackettCourtesy

Allow me to answer the question right away; we pray for both! Our daily tefillot are filled with requests for peace. In Shacharit alone, we mention the word “Shalom” about 20 times. Yet, in those same morning prayers, we recite chapter 149 of Tehillim with the words, “To exact vengeance among the nations”.

On certain days of the year, we say “Avinu Malkenu” which includes the request; “Our Father, our King, avenge before our eyes the spilled blood of Your servants”. On Shabbat, just prior to returning the Torah, we say; “May He (Hashem) before our eyes, exact retribution for the spilled blood of His servants, as is written in the Torah of Moshe, the man of G-d, ‘Oh nations, sing the praise of His people for He will avenge the blood of His servants and bring retribution upon His foes’… Why should the nations say, ‘Where is their G-d?’ Let there be known among the nations, before our eyes, revenge for Your servants’ spilled blood…”

While many people may be bothered by this contradiction, it makes perfect sense to me. Peace is truly a wonderful thing, and one needs peace in his/her home to nurture a family. Peace is vital between neighbors, in a community, in the workplace and in our schools and shuls. Think about how much money, time, energy, and effort has been invested in attempting to make peace between countries because peace allows free travel, commerce/trade and lifts a big stone off one’s chest when the neighboring country is not out to kill you.

Yes, peace is important… but it does not come at any price. On the personal level, if someone caused embarrassment and financial damage, our Rabbis have instructed us to forgive the embarrassment and make amends. Yet, the Halakha is clear that while Reuven should forgive Shimon for the hurt and the pain, he does not need to forgive Shimon for the $5,000 he caused him to lose! Shimon can, once again, become Reuven’s best friend… but he must pay him back what he owes.

Let’s turn now to the national level. What happens when Amalek wants to apologize and make peace? Can we simply sign some agreement on the White House lawn and “let bygones be bygones”? OK, that was an obvious question, so let me ask a harder one; What happens when Germany wants to apologize and make peace? Spain? The Church? Hamas? Do we jump for joy at the prospect of peace, or do we give a different answer? And if all we want is peace (because the Germans of today are not the ones who killed 6,000,000…) then what do we mean when we keep praying for Hashem to “avenge before our eyes the spilled blood of Your servants”??

Here's the answer; Yes, we want peace but first we want revenge. We want to avenge the murders of our brothers and sisters who were innocently slaughtered by the millions. We want the barbarians – and those who supported them – who made Jewish children into Jewish orphans, pay for what they did. Only after “Our Father, Our King avenges before our eyes the spilled blood” will we work out a peace plan.

There are those who will consider my words to be extreme, but I disagree. I take the davening very seriously and if we pray for both peace and revenge then that is exactly what needs to happen; Hashem must avenge the blood of innocent Jews and then – and only then – will Hashem bring peace to the region. “Hashem oz le’amo ye’ten, Hashem yivarech et amo ba’shalom” – “Hashem will give might to His people, Hashem will bless His people with peace” (Tehillim 29:11) –

Only when the Jewish enemy sees might, strength and vengeance from Heaven will they stop their daily terror. These actions – by a strong and proud Jewish army, unafraid of world opinion and political correctness – will then see blessing from the Almighty and true, everlasting peace. May this happen very soon!