We all woke up this morning to a world that had changed overnight.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine presents a terrible scenario of a suffering, pain, and loss of life.
Further, it promises a destabilized Europe, and thus, a further destabilized world.
The Jewish community of Ukraine is especially on my mind, for history shows that amidst armed conflict and uncertainty, often the Jews of the land are especially vulnerable.
(If you would like to support the Ukraine Jewry through these days to come, doing so through the World Union For Progressive Judaism’s Ukraine Crisis Fund).
Jewish prayers traditionally carve out space for us to pray for peace.
In fact, our Sages suggest that anytime we are praying as a community, we must prayer for peace.
Perhaps tying into the theology that if we pray for it, God will ‘hear’ it, and act accordingly.
Or, perhaps our prayers tie into the idea that we ought to be aware of those who suffer in conflict, even if our land is quiet. For no one can be an ‘island’ unto themselves.
I like the idea that by praying for peace, together, and often, that we lionize the ideal that our world can have peace. That it is possible. And, that we each may have a part to play: how we speak, how we interact, what we buy (or don’t buy), how we vote, etc.
When we are praying for ‘shalom’, the ‘peace’ we are praying for is one that involves all parties having a high degree of tolerance for others, and learning to live with our differences. It is a peace that involves compromise, and enlightenment.
This is different than the peace known as ‘Pax Romana’, Roman peace. Which is the quiet that comes when one group has conquered another.
Say it aloud as you read these words, let your prayer be heard (at least by your own ears).
Oseh Shalom bimromav. Hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu. V’al Kol Yisrael V’imru Amen.
May the One who makes peace in the high places, bring peace to us all, and upon all Israel. Believe.