Nasso: Why is peace like a suitcase?
Peace is a suitcase. Now why do I say that? In Parshat Nasso we’re given the Birkat Kohanim – the ‘duchaning’ – the blessing that the Kohanim bring from Hashem to the people, and the entire blessing leads to a crescendo with the words (Bamidbar 6:26),
“Veyaseim lecha shalom,” – “May Hashem give you peace.”
The impression given here is that peace means everything.
The Midrash (Bamidbar Rabbah 21:1) on this verse and the Talmud Yerushalmi both tell us, that from here we learn,
“Ein kli machzik bracha eila shalom.” – “Peace is a vessel that contains blessings within it like none other.”
Why is peace described in this particular way?
Let’s say you’re going on a train journey. You’re going somewhere for the weekend, and you take an old suitcase with you and in the suitcase you’ve got your clothes and many valuable possessions. When you arrive at the station, lo and behold your old suitcase falls apart! You have to pick up all of your valuable possessions and hold them in your arms, and you have to schlepp them like this until you get to your hotel.
I can guarantee you that by the time you reach your destination there’ll be hardly anything left because they’ll all slip from your arms. That’s the reason why our sages tell us, “Ein kli machzik bracha eilah shalom.” – “Peace is a vessel that contains your blessings within it, like none other.”
It’s like that suitcase. Because without being able to hold onto your blessings they’ll all slip away. It is for this reason that when, in Parshat Bechukotai, the Torah gives us the promise (Vayikra 26:6),
“Venatati shalom ba’aretz,” – “I will give peace in the land,”
Rashi comments as follows: What happens if people say, “But we’ve got everything already! You’ve promised us the lot! Why is peace necessary?” Rashi answers, “Magid shehashalom shakul keneged hakol.” – “From here we learn that peace equals everything.”
How true it is. One can be blessed with enormous material wealth. One can have relationships. One can have all types of blessings. But if one’s life is full of tension, if there is divisiveness, if there is a poisonous atmosphere without peace, you actually end up having hardly anything at all.
That is why in our daily prayers we say,
“Oseh shalom uvoreih et hakol,” – “Hashem makes peace and He creates everything.”
Let’s never forget that peace is like a suitcase and without it, we end up having nothing at all.