Choosing A Peaceful Path In a Time Of Violence

July 3, 2014 by Shelly

In Pirke Avot, we learn that one mitzvah leads,even causes another mitzvah to be done. Likewise, one transgression leads to another. It seem that, in human affairs, we do tend to imitate each other. When there is an atmosphere around us of anger and violence, we often have the impulse to follow suit. Our anger is kindled, and we are capable of committing violence as well. On the other hand, when a hand is extended to another in compassion and friendship, often there will be reciprocal gestures. What seems especially hard and even unnatural is to break this powerful cycle, to change the direction by responding to violence with restraint and even a token of respect and hope.

In Israel and the West Bank at this moment, we stand now at such a precipice. Cruel violence has been committed. We ask ourselves so searchingly how best to respond. Of course justice must be pursued so that those who murdered innocent young people are severely judged. Yet, beyond justice, there are choices. The tradition is so clear. “Do not seek vengeance”. Instead, “Seek peace and pursue it.” We are now at a time of momentous decision making. May we learn restraint and pursue peacemaking with even more determination.


  1. Linda Mayor says:

    Very wise words, Shelly. If only people will listen and follow the peaceful path. I pray that it will be.

  2. Bob Baird says:

    Rabbi Louis,

    I have heard you speak at Beth David and wish to share an idea with you. I have been promoting a unique approach to peace between Israelis and Palestinians. I have been searching for a name and “A No-Fault Approach to Peace” come closest. I see you are giving a talk at the Los Gatos JCC on October 19th on the “Golden Rule.” Coincidentally, that is the first principle for the approach, which I am advocating. I have written a paper on “Ethical Precepts – Foundations for Peace” that you might like to read ( and make comments. I would be honored for you to meet with me a help promote this approach before time runs out on Israel as we know it and we hope it to become.

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