Mishpatim: Peace and Common Sense
People wonder all the time, 'How do we possibly overcome the threat of radical Islam and and global terror?' The answer is surprisingly simple...
by Rabbi Lazer Brody
"One who strikes a man to death shall surely be put to death." (Exodus 21:12)
What brings one human being to kill another human being?
Rebbe Nachman of Breslev teaches that there is a type of lust where a person craves victory, strife and war. This lust comes from his blood that hasn't yet served Hashem. Each person must uproot this lust and pursue peace; this is accomplished through profuse Torah learning and prayer, for this way, a person merits peace.
With Rebbe Nachman's above teaching in mind, we learn that the words of Torah and prayer that we speak rectifies our blood and leads to peace. This is easy to understand, since the Torah teaches us that “the blood is the soul”. Speech is also an aspect of the soul, for King Solomon said, “My soul left me as He spoke.” The pinnacle of quality speech is that which is utilized in Torah learning and in prayer, for it has the ability of mobilizing all the powers of the soul not only on a spiritual level but on a physiological level as well, for it activates all of a person's blood in the service of Hashem. As such, when a person prays and learns Torah, he is not left with any blood that hasn't yet served Hashem. His lust for victory, strife and war leaves him. In steading of pursuing a prospective victim, he pursues peace.
According to the above principle, a person can evaluate the effectiveness of his own praying and Torah learning. If he prays and learns Torah all day long, but still has the urge to win every argument with his learning partner or to quarrel with his wife and to defeat her too, then it's a clear sign that his prayers and Torah learning are weak, ineffective and maybe even worthless altogether. Since he hasn't corrected his spiritually-murky blood, he remains with his lust for victory. The lust within one's blood that hasn't yet been purified bring about the urge to spill other people's blood in varying degrees, from insulting a person in public to outright murder. The root is the same.
The Torah is life and peace, “For its ways are the ways of pleasantry and all its paths are peace.” True Torah learning and prayer require common sense. The Gemara teaches that where there is no common sense, there is no peace. The Gemara gives an interesting example in comparing several types of handicapped people's ability to marry; the Gemara says that two deaf people can live in peace, but not two insane people. The difference between them is common sense. Wherever there is no common sense, there is strife.
In effect, the power of Torah and prayer is much greater than the power of hate and strife. People wonder all the time, “How do we possibly overcome the threat of radical Islam and and global terror?” The answer is surprisingly simple. The Midrash says that when “Jacob sounds his voice, the hands of Esau cannot prevail.” “The voice of Jacob” is the sound of Torah learning and prayer, that which not only rectifies an individual, but rectifies the entire world, for it overrides the force of evil, eradicates strife and bloodshed, and brings peace to the world.
 - Likutei Moharan I:75
 - Deuteronomy 12:23
 - Song of Songs 5:6
 - Proverbs 3:17
 - Yevamot 112b
 - Breishit Raba 65:20
Rabbi Lazer Brody was born in Washington, D.C. in 1949. After receiving his bachelor's degree in agriculture from the University of Maryland in 1970, he moved to Israel and joined the Israel Defense Forces regular army, and served in one of the elite special-forces units. He is a decorated combat veteran of two wars and numerous of counter-insurgence and anti-terrorist missions on both sides of Israel's borders.
Rabbi Brody is the English-language editor of Breslev Israel's highly popular English-language website at www.breslev.co.il, and the founder and director of Emuna Outreach. Between Breslov Israel and Emuna Outreach, he devotes his time to spreading emuna and particularly the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev around the globe.
"Lazer Beams," Rabbi Brody's award-winning daily web journal, has been instrumental in helping tens of thousands of people around the globe find joy and fulfillment in their lives.