SHALOM BAYIT – Create Peace in the Home
Undertaking conscious acts of self-restraint, love and
generosity may yield greater peace at home.
The source for this week’s mitzvah of the week comes from Genesis 18:13. Three mysterious guests visit Abraham, 99-years-old at the time, and foretells that Sarah, who is about 10 years younger, will have a child. Sarah, outside the tent, overhears the promise and laughs, just as Abraham had laughed when he heard it. Sarah laughs because, “…am I to have enjoyment, with my husband so old?” However, God paraphrases Sarah’s words, intentionally misquoting her for the sake of peace between husband and wife: “…Shall I in truth bear a child, as old as I am?”
Sarah’s words reflect on Abraham’s age; God’s retelling draws attention to Sarah’s age instead, so that her husband would not be offended. The Talmud, using this passage as a proof text, teaches that one may even speak an untruth for the sake of peace.
Creating and maintaining peace in the home, peace in the family, is an important mitzvah. Often we are most sharp with family members, presumably because it is safer to speak our minds. Some of the things we say to loved ones we would never consider saying to friends and colleagues. To be able to be so comfortable with loved ones is a blessing, but it can’t be at the expense of their feelings or well being.
At this time of Thanksgiving, when many of us are challenged by familial relationships, we must be especially conscious of this mitzvah. Pursue peace we are taught, in all spheres, and let it begin at home!
May you experience a Thanksgiving that lives up to its name – being conscious of the blessings we are so fortunate to experience. We live in a community of generosity and calm, we have sufficient food to eat, we feel secure in our homes. We are truly blessed. Happy Thanksgiving and may you experience a Shabbat of peace.
Rabbi Debbie Israel