A number of years ago, acquaintances of mine, Josh and his wife Marg, got divorced. His story was that they were always fighting over money. He felt that on his meagre earnings he could never afford to make her happy. He wished he could be like his brother Frank, but Frank was a cardiologist and Josh worked in construction.
Last year, Jane left Frank. Josh was shocked! Frank had all the money in the world – they lived like kings. Why didn’t their marriage work?
Three times a day, we pray the Shmoneh-Esrei, the prayer that originated as eighteen blessings and is now nineteen. The order of these blessings was established by the Men of the Great Assembly at the end of the Second Temple period. The Gemara discusses why they ordered the blessings as they did, beginning with the first blessing of ‘Shield of Abraham’ and continuing through the prayer until the final blessing of ‘Grant peace.’
Why did the Men of the Great Assembly see fit to place the final blessing of ‘Grant peace’ after the Priestly blessing? For immediately following the priestly blessing in the Book of Numbers, the Torah states, “And they (the priests) shall place My Name over the Children of Israel and I shall bless them.” And the blessing of the Almighty is Peace, as it is written, “G-d will bless his nation with peace.”
The first message to note here is that the kohanim (priests) do not bless us. The Torah states clearly that they place G-d’s Name over us, but ultimately the blessing comes from Him. The Talmud then explains: What is the greatest blessing of G-d? Peace. There is no greater blessing than peace.
On an individual level, when you are blessed with peace at home (shalom bayis), everything else flows from there. It doesn’t matter whether you’re rich or poor, those are secondary needs. The first and foremost blessing we seek is peace. Peace – shalom – comes from the word shalem, meaning complete. When you and your spouse are at peace with one another, you are a complete entity and you can conquer any challenge together. Sometimes challenges will be related to money, other times health or children. Whatever the challenge is, with shalom bayis you can rise above, because you have each other and you are working as a single, united entity.
Money is not the cause of marital strife. Marital strife comes first and then the lack of peace between you and your spouse engenders a lack of the wherewithal to face life’s other challenges. If you want to overcome the challenges of life, first you need to make sure that you have a solid unified marriage unit. Once you have a complete marriage no challenge will destroy your unity. But achieving that unity entails doing whatever you can to make your spouse happy and praying to G-d constantly for peace at home.
On a national level, we need peace desperately now. Our people are at war with an enemy that seeks to destroy us. They refuse to acknowledge this important truth, that if only they would seek peace, all their other needs would flow forth – economic stability, human rights issues, etc. But they don’t want peace and therefore their poor citizens are being put in harm’s way, despite our inordinate efforts to protect them.
We must pray for peace. G-d’s blessing is peace. G-d desires peace for all His children. May the Almighty grant us peace in our homes, communities and Israel very soon.