“May There Be Peace Within”

“May There Be Peace Within”

From the desk of Rabbi David Lyon

This difficult and prolonged period of social isolation defies our human nature to be socially connected. But, if we are to be socially connected again, then we have to survive our isolation. It’s circular logic, but we can emerge from it intact. Until then, the virus lurks around us invisibly, and the emotional toll hasn’t been fully registered yet. In the meantime, I want to share these words that a friend in the congregation sent to me. He wanted me to read and digest them. I did. I’m grateful. Now, I’d like to share them with you.

“Today may there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.” 

The poem reminds me of the Jewish morning prayer that praises God, as we awake, for creating within us a pure soul: “You, God, have created it and formed it, breathed it into me, and within me You sustain it. So long as I have breath, therefore, I will give thanks to You, Eternal One, Creator of every human spirit.” Such renewal comes to us no matter the weather, the schedule or the pandemic. Every day when we awaken, inside, alone, with children and family, or just pets, our pure soul is free “to sing, dance, praise and love.”

This week, the Torah portion, Kedoshim, begins with the words, “You shall be holy, for I, God, am holy” (Leviticus 19). Some teach that it means that we are already holy. Like the prayer and the poem, it validates what we hoped was true about us: we are created in God’s image with a pure soul. Others teach that it means we will become holy in the future. Like the concept of infinity, we’ll come close, but there’s always farther to go. Every day is a privilege to come a little closer. We can do it, step-by-step, if we “let this knowledge settle into [our] bones,” and remember “the infinite possibilities that are born in [us],” and “trust that are [we] are exactly where [we] are meant to be.” Why should we do it? The poem answers us as it begins, “Today, there may be peace within.”

Do as I did. Read and digest the words. Then share them with others. Perhaps the peace within will be found between us when we meet again, and the Source of that peace will be celebrated by us with gratitude. As Torah also tells us, “This Teaching is not too far from us; it is in our mouths and in our hearts to do it” (Deuteronomy 30).

From my family to yours, Shabbat Shalom,