For the Sake of Peace

Yael Eckstein  |  November 8, 2022

Fellowship volunteer hugging elderly woman

Turn from evil and do good;
    seek peace and pursue it. —
Psalm 34:14

Peace, shalom, is a paramount value for both Christians and Jews. Explore this elusive attribute through my devotions and what we can learn about adding it to our lives, our relationships, and our world.

Jewish tradition teaches that Aaron the High Priest was the champion of shalom, peace, between people. This is how Aaron would operate: As soon as he heard that two people were quarrelling, he would go to each side and claim that the other was remorseful. He would exaggerate how badly each one felt and the good things said by one party about the other.

For example, he would tell one party to the fight, “You know, I ran into Bob the other day. He told me about the issue between you guys. I have to tell you, he feels absolutely awful, just terrible. He just doesn’t feel comfortable approaching you.” Then he would say the same thing to the other side.

The result was both sides had a change of heart, and they would usually reconcile.

Yes, Aaron compromised the truth, but for the sake of peace. This, according to Judaism is not only permissible, but advisable. Hillel the Elder used to say: “Be a student of Aaron: love peace and pursue peace.”

For the Sake of Peace

This idea is echoed in the Psalms: “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” The end of the verse seems repetitive. Why both seek and pursue?

The Hebrew word for “seek” here is bakesh, which really means “ask” or “want.” This teaches that our attitude must always be oriented toward peace. We must always be on the lookout for opportunities to increase peace. But then the verse goes further.

It’s not enough to work toward peace when the opportunity presents itself. We must actively pursue peace. The Hebrew word for pursue here is the same as the word for chasing enemies on a battlefield. In other words, we have to fight for peace, and like a military commander, come up with strategies and tactics to make peace a reality.

If Aaron was able to sacrifice truth for the sake of peace, shalom, how much more so must we stay away from compromising shalom for the sake of truth?

Your Turn:

Do you know of a situation where you could be like Aaron and pursue peace? Let’s be bridge-builders and peacemakers.