Peace Comes from Within

Yael Eckstein  |  December 4, 2023

Jacob guarding Laban's herd

Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan. — Genesis 37:1

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Vayeshev, which means “and he lived,” from Genesis 37:1—40:23.

Have you ever noticed that while some people seem to have an easy life, they are in constant tumult on the inside? And then other people have their share of problems, yet they are completely calm? While most people assume that inner peace is a result of a tranquil outer environment, from what I have noticed, that is clearly not the case!

In this week’s Torah portion, we learn that Jacob returned to his homeland in Canaan and settled there. According to Jewish tradition, after decades of difficulties, Jacob prayed to finally have some peace in this next chapter of his life. However, as soon as he asked God for tranquility, the rift between his beloved son Joseph and his brothers began. Ultimately, the sibling rivalry resulted in Jacob’s sons selling Joseph and telling Jacob that Joseph had been killed.

Instead of the peace that Jacob asked for, he was faced with the most turbulent decades of his life!

It seems like God did not answer Jacob’s prayers, but the Jewish sages explained that when God caused more tumult and difficulty in Jacob’s life, He wasn’t denying Jacob’s request; He was granting it.

Peace Comes from Within

Sure, God could have granted Jacob’s request for peace with the absence of any turmoil. But that would be a conditional peace, one that could be broken at any moment. God wished to give His beloved servant an even greater tranquility, one that was deeper and more stable.

God wanted Jacob to learn that peace comes from within, not from conditions outside. Once Jacob went through the worst of everything, he could learn to weather anything. God provided him with a way to access peace in any situation of his life.

In the Book of Isaiah we read, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you” (26:3). Peace is not a result of our outer conditions, but a result of our inner state. When we learn to trust God in any situation, we will earn an everlasting peace that will accompany us through any circumstance.

Inner peace can be unconditional only when we unconditionally trust in God.

Be a Holy Land Hero

As people of faith, we put our trust in God to provide peace, even during the most trying times. Pledge today to pray for and support the Jewish people in this, their time of need.