I am no longer able to sing the popular Israeli song composed by Mosh Ben-Ari which has become part of our liturgy at Friday night services in the Kol HaNeshama congregation in Jerusalem:
“Peace will come upon us” ” עוד יבוא שלום עלינו”
There are those who believe that achieving inner peace will help bring outer peace nearer. That may be true. However, the reason I no longer sing the song as written is that I do not believe that peace will simply come upon us. That’s not the way peace works. As Psalm 34 says, “Seek peace and pursue it.” The word translated as ‘pursue’ is a very active word – ‘rodef.’ It suggests chasing something, hunting it down, not simply sitting back and waiting for it to arrive. There are a couple of organizations that use the phrase “Waging Peace.” Peace doesn’t just come along. We’re not going to wake up one morning and find that the era of world peace has begun – or at least, that’s not my understanding of the way the world works. We need to wage peace with the same energy with which war is waged .
The prayers and songs that ask for God’s help in bringing peace don’t annoy me in the same way. We could certainly use some spiritual power to help us in the peace struggle. But for those of us who don’t really believe a Messiah is coming any time soon, it’s really up to each and every one of us to go out and bring peace a little closer. We have to go out there and make it happen. We need to take action – get involved, support an organization, go and demonstrate, write a letter, speak up for social change.
That’s why I have changed the words to the song. It’s a very small (one word in Hebrew) but I believe significant change, one that reminds me each week that peace is up to us.
“We will yet bring peace upon us” “עוד נביא שלום עלינו”