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August 23, 1991 - Image 108

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-08-23

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Peace As A Duty
Renouncing Doubts

PHILIP SLOMOVITZ

Editor Emeritus

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FRIDAY, AUGUST 23, 1991

eace is now more fre-
quently pronounced
and repeated than
perhaps any other
ideological term. It is begin-
ning to be asserted as fre-
quently as shalom, its Heb-
rew originator. It has its
doubters and skeptics, but
the Jewish way advocates it
with a positiveness.
The Hebraic shalom is not
only repeated prayerwise
but in the traditions traced
to Talmudic times. It is
treated as a compulsion even
in friendly interchanges of
greetings. Among the in-
stinctive Jewish concepts
that were assembled by
Rabbi Philip Birnbaum,
there is a fascinating defini-
tion for this humanizing way
of life; it teaches mankind
not to corrupt friendships.
The Talmudic lesson ap-
pended to the Birnbaum
concept is illustrated in the
following:
The responsibility of the
individual toward the
community is illustrated
as follows: "It is to be
compared to people sit-
ting on board a ship, one
of the passengers of
which took an awl and
began to bore holes in the
bottom of the vessel. Ask-
ed to desist from his
dangerous occupation, he
answered: Why, I am only
making holes in my own
seat. He was forgetting
that when the water came
in it would sink the whole
ship." The sin of a single
person might endanger
the whole of humanity.
"The world is judged after
the merits or demerits of
the majority, so that a sin-
gle individual by his good
or bad actions can decide
the fate of his fellow men,
as it may happen that he
is just the one who con-
stitutes this majority."
In this connection,
treating the ideal as a con-
ception of humanism, it is
worth accepting Rabbi Birn-
baum's definition of shalom
as the way of life for all of us.
Here is how Rabbi Birn-
baum wants to treat the
term:
The Hebrew word
shalom has a wider mean-
ing than the English
equivalent peace, for it
signifies welfare of every
kind: security, content-
ment, sound health, pros-

perity, friendship, peace
of mind and heart, as
opposed to the dissatis-
faction and unrest caused
by evil (Isaiah 32:17;
48:22). Hillel said: "Love
peace and strive for
peace" (Avoth 1:12)
Among talmudic
statements about peace
the following may be
quoted: "The whole Torah
exists only for the sake of
peace. For the sake of
peace, truth may be
sacrificed."
Many movements have
been instituted for peace,
and often there have been
illusions and doubts which
demanded more serious
commitments to shalom.
One such experience is wor-

Mr. Truman
dropped the pen
with which he was
autographing the
printed program
and he said,
"There is no
peace!"

th recalling here. In 1966 a
movement was instituted to
honor the former president
Harry S. Truman, known as
the Truman Peace Center, a
part of the Hebrew Univer-
sity in Jerusalem. The idea
was inaugurated at im-
pressive ceremonies in In-
dependence, Mo.
The movement was made
possible with contributions
of $100,000 each from 36
prominent American Jews.
They were then designated
in accordance with a great
tradition as Lamed-Vav
Tzaddikim. This concept is
defined by Rabbi Birnbaum.
The thirty-six hidden
saints described by
legend as being extremely
modest and upright, con-
cealing their identity
behind a mask of ig-
norance and poverty and
earning their livelihood
by the sweat of their
brow, are generally re-
ferred to as lamedvov-
niks. This widely-held
belief among pious Jews
is based on a talmudic
statement to the effect
that there are in the world
no fewer than thirty-six
righteous men in every
generation who "greet the
Shekhinah", the Divine
Presence.

Emma Schaver and Abra-
ham Borman were
Detroiters in the list of 36
who established the Turman
Hebrew University Center.
It would be unfair not to
give due credit to Emma
Schaver as a leader in our
community who plays a role
not only as a musician but in
scores of major causes and
encourages preservation of
historic facts in relation to
the Truman Center.
Now it is necessary to
recall the doubts that were
expressed by Mr. Truman in
the possibilities of realizing
the hope for peace. The day
after the inauguration of the
idea for the Truman Center
this episode occurred. I ex-
pressed my enthusiasm for
the ideal with confidence
that it would be historically
embracing. Mr. Truman drop-
ped the pen with which he
was autographing the printed
program and he said, "There
is no peace!"
It is not under the title
Truman Peace Center that
the idea was realized;, it is
perpetuated at the Hebrew
University in Jerusalem as
the Harry S. Truman
Research Institute for the
Advancement of Peace. It is
as such that it is now one of
the world's great peace-
advancing centers.

N

Tributes to Truman em-
phasized the significance
about a Hebrew University
function held in Jerusalem N
for the presentation of the
newly established Truman
Peace Prize. The selection of
Simone Veil was announced
in a JTA dispatch:
The Harry S. Truman
Research Institute for the
Advancement of Peace
will award its first prize to
French stateswoman
Simone Veil next week.
Veil, who received an
honorary doctorate from
the Hebrew University in
1980, is a former president
of the Parliament of
Europe and a former
health minister in the
French government.
/
As a survivor of
Auschwitz and Bergen-
Belsen, she has been at
the forefront of
movements to ensure that
the Holocaust is never
forgotten.The com-
mitments at the Hebrew
University defy skepticism.
They would appeal to Harry
S. Truman for fulfillment of
the tribute linked to his
name. It will surely always

(

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