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The final blessing of Shemoneh Esrei is Sim Shalom, where we ask Hashem to “Grant us Peace.” The Tur, zt”l, zy”a, explains that since right before this blessing we say the Birkas Kohanim, about which the Torah says, “V’samu es Shmi al Bnei Yisrael v’Ani avoracheim – And you (the Kohanim) shall place My Name on Yisrael and I will bless them.” Continues the Tur, since the blessing of Hashem is peace, like it says, “Hashem oz l’amo yitein, Hashem yivoreich es amo bashalom – Hashem grants Yisrael with strength and Hashem blesses His nation with peace,” therefore, it is appropriate that we follow the blessings of the Kohanim with the blessing of peace. The Iyun Tefillah adds, furthermore, since the last of the priestly blessings is “V’yaseim l’cha shalom – He should grant you peace,” it flows perfectly that immediately afterwards we should ask for peace.

As an aside, we cited the verse that “Hashem grants Yisrael with strength and He blesses us with peace.” What is the connection between strength and peace? In Avos d’Reb Nosson, it queries, “Eizahu gibor? Ha’oseh misono ahavo – Who is mighty? He who has the ability to make from an enemy a friend.” Thus, we see that the power of peacemaking is considered strength and thus we see the clear linkage between peace and strength.

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The Yerushalmi in Berachos [Chapter 2, Halacha 4] explains why we conclude the blessings of Shemoneh Esrei with the subject of peace. It comments that all blessings conclude with the subject of peace. The Shemoneh Esrei, the Birkas Kohanim, and our Bentching all conclude with shalom. Rashi, in Bechukosai [26:6], points out that the blessings of Bechukosai also finish off with the promise of peace. He explains that peace is mentioned last because it is shakul k’neged hakol, it equals all other blessings put together. He brings proof of this from the beginning of the longest bracha in our liturgy, the blessing of Yotzer Ohr, where we say, “Oseh shalom uvorei es hakol – Hashem makes peace and creates everything,” contrasting peace with everything else, thereby showing that they are of equal stature.

The entire Shas also concludes with the teaching of peace! It teaches in the final Mishna of Uktzin, “Lo matza HaKodosh Baruch Hu klei machzik bracha ela hashalom – Hashem did not find a vessel that can properly contain blessing except for peace.” Rabbi Berel Wein, shlit”a, has a delicious parable to illustrate what this means. Upon his moving to Eretz Yisrael, he went to the grocery for the first time to stock his new home. He filled several wagons with necessities and came to the counter. It was only then that he found to his chagrin that they didn’t give bags. Here he had all of his household needs but he had no way to take them home. Rabbi Wein aptly declared “Peace is the bag to contain all the other blessings of life!” Without peace, all other blessing flounder or, as Rashi (ibid) states succinctly, “Im ein shalom, ein klum – If there is no peace, there’s nothing.”

On a very practical level this means that we should train ourselves to make many sacrifices and overlook all trivialities in order to maintain the peace. In a similar vein, Rabbi Frand, shlit”a, famously recommended that there is almost no chumra, stringency, that is worth sacrificing your shalom bais, marital harmony over. This commodity is what we are asking for in this final blessing.

The Yaros Devash suggests that in this blessing we should pray that there should be peace amongst Klal Yisrael. There should be peace in our shuls, in our workplaces, in our neighborhoods, there should be peace between the Chassidishe and the Litvish, between different Chassidishe sects, and between the Chareidim and the Chilonim. He recommends that we pray in this blessing that we should be spared from jealousy and hate which invariably lead to strife. He then forcefully says that we should pray to be free from anger for anywhere that there is anger, peace departs.

The Olas Tamid adds that we should daven to be spared from death by the sword and by wild animals. We are taught in Masechtas Derech Eretz Zuta, in the chapter of peace, that if Hashem didn’t bless the world with peace we would be ravaged by the sword and by animals. Therefore, we ask in this blessing that we should be spared from wars, from terrorists, from criminals, from antisemitism. We also pray that we should be protected from animals with rabies, from snakes, from infected mosquitoes, and bears and wolves. In modern times, we should also ask for peace on the roads, for protection from drunk drivers, from distracted drivers, from road rage, falling asleep at the wheel, blowouts and black ice.

Rav Avigdor Miller, zt”l, zy”a, advises that when we ask for peace we should include the all-important request for peace of mind. This includes the essential petition for menuchas hanefesh, ease of our souls, that we shouldn’t suffer from depression and melancholy, and that we are spared from the plight of feeling unfulfilled or perpetually stressed. Likewise, we pray to be saved from an insatiable chemdas hamamon, the unquenchable lust for more and more money. And here is where we should certainly ask from Hashem that He save us from addictions which wreck so many lives such as the addiction to spirits or chemical dependencies, the addiction to gambling, the modern addiction of computer gaming, and the insidious addiction of forbidden images.

We should assuredly pray in this blessing for our shalom bais, tranquility and happiness in our homes and we should likewise ask Hashem for a healthy livelihood because it is only when our financial situation is stable that peace will reign in our homes. As Dovid HaMelech teaches us in Tehillim, “Hasam g’vuleich shalom, cheilev chitim yasbi’eich – He grants in our borders peace, satisfying us with the cream of wheat.” The Gemara explains this to mean that if there is sufficient wheat in our cupboard, only then will there be peace in our borders.

In the merit of our realizing that our peace is dependent upon Hashem’s beneficence, may he bless us with a multiplicity of peace, long life, good health, and everything wonderful.

 

Transcribed and edited by Shelley Zeitlin.

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Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss is now stepping-up his speaking engagement and scholar-in-residence weekends. To book him for a speaking circuit or evening in your community, please call Rabbi Daniel Green at 908.783.7321. To receive a weekly cassette tape or CD directly from Rabbi Weiss, please write to Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss, P.O. Box 658 Lakewood, New Jersey 08701 or contact him at [email protected]. Attend Rabbi Weiss’s weekly shiur at Rabbi Rotberg’s Shul in Toms River, Wednesday nights at 9:15 or join via zoom by going to zoom.com and entering meeting code 7189163100, or more simply by going to ZoomDaf.com. Rabbi Weiss’s Daf Yomi shiurim can be heard LIVE at 2 Valley Stream, Lakewood, New Jersey Sunday thru Thursday at 8 pm and motzoi Shabbos at 9:15 pm, or by joining on the zoom using the same method as the Chumash shiur. It is also accessible on Kol Haloshon at (718) 906-6400, and on Torahanytime.com. To Sponsor a Shiur, contact Rav Weiss by texting or calling 718.916.3100 or by email [email protected]. Shelley Zeitlin takes dictation of, and edits, Rabbi Weiss’s articles.