Straight Talk Parshat Naso: Personal Peace
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Naso(Numbers 4:21-7:89)

Personal Peace

This week's parsha contains the Priestly blessing that we say in synagogue. It ends with a prayer that God should give us peace.

This blessing is worded in the singular, which would indicate that it is a blessing for each individual, not a national blessing. Wouldn't it make more sense to bless a nation with peace? There is probably nothing more fundamental for a nation. Furthermore, while peace is important on an interpersonal level, there are surely more, or at least equally, significant issues in the life of an individual - such as health, love, personal satisfaction... What exactly is this personal peace, and why is it singled out?

Every human being is made up of a body and a soul. The soul yearns to be Godly, while the body wants to sleep. That's quite a dichotomy. You wake up in the morning in the midst of a raging battle. The soul wants to get up and do Godly things; the body clings tightly onto the pillow. Assuming you do actually make it out of bed, the soul now wants to get on with meaningful accomplishment, while the body urgently wants to escape into the newspaper, the TV or anything it can find - the more mindless, the better.

On your way into work, the soul wants to smile at the other souls. The body wants you to look as miserable as you can for the other bodies - after all, you dragged it out of bed this morning. The soul wants you to be full of life and energy for your day. The body wants you to mope around depressed.

The soul wants to have deep, meaningful relationships with other people; the body wants you to chew on them until you don't need them any more, and then spit out the bones. The soul wants to engage in reality; the body wants drugs and other stimuli to help it escape reality.

This battle between body and soul is constant. There is hardly a situation in life in which the two do not have diametrically different preferences. We are faced with constant turmoil. It is peace from this turmoil to which the Priestly blessing refers.

The Sages say there is only one way to achieve this "personal peace." The soul will never make peace with the body. Its drive for God is too deep. But, given time, the body can learn to enjoy the pleasures of the soul.

If you succumb to the desires and passions of the body, say our Sages, you will be in turmoil forever. Struggle to live as a soul, however, and peace becomes a real possibility. This sense of inner harmony and completeness is what we humans are all ultimately searching for. As such, this is the most fitting theme for the priestly blessing.

Published: May 23, 2009

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Visitor Comments: 4

(4) Anonymous, May 30, 2014 1:36 PM

Excellent!

This is excellent! Thank you so much for posting it!

(3) j LaLone, June 6, 2009 6:14 PM

Thanks

I saved this to read again another day. It is an old lesson told differently, and it reached my heart.

(2) andrew, June 1, 2009 4:29 PM

Excellent!

Thanks Rabbi. How deep your insigth. How real. Its wonderfull to learn about ourselves. How manage the life each day!

(1) mandy, May 30, 2009 5:26 AM

GOOD READ

Hello my Friend, good read from this week's Parasha. Enjoy. Love M.

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