Here's a great tip:
Enter your email address and we'll send you our weekly magazine by email with fresh, exciting and thoughtful content that will enrich your inbox and your life, week after week. And it's free.
Oh, and don't forget to like our facebook page too!
A new online course
Starting January 22nd
Register »
Contact Us

Peace or Piece?

Peace or Piece?


As the days and hours pass, we are nearing one of the scariest and most difficult periods in the history of the State of Israel. Within weeks, Jewish soldiers may be ordered to forcefully evacuate their brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, grandparents and grandchildren from the homes in Gush Katif and other parts of the Land of Israel where these Jews have lived for generations. These young soldiers, barely more than children themselves, will come face to face with fellow Jews in a confrontation in which both sides are unrelenting in their mission and determination. It is too painful to contemplate what the results could be. I rather choose to think about what change is necessary to tackle the root of the problem.

It is interesting to note that in English, "peace" (as in getting along) and "piece" (as in breaking a whole into smaller parts) are homonyms Of course, all this is being done in the name of peace. The world is demanding peace. Israel is screaming for peace. The only people who don't seem to be so concerned with peace are the very people with whom we are trying to achieve it.... Yet what is peace?

The world chooses to define "peace" as synonymous with compromise. It is interesting to note that in English, "peace" (as in getting along) and "piece" (as in breaking a whole into smaller parts) are homonyms. In Hebrew, however, the word for peace is shalom, from the root shalem, "wholeness." In the language of the Torah, if there is wholeness, then there is peace. The two go together. We do not achieve peace through division and fragmentation, but rather through completeness.

Our sages teach that there are three states of wholeness that we must always strive for: wholeness of the Jewish People, wholeness of the Torah and wholeness of the Land of Israel. If even one of the three is not complete, then the others will also suffer. True peace will only be accomplished when we have wholeness of the three.

Wholeness of the People

The Torah describes the people of Israel as ish echad b'lev echad---"one person with one heart." This means that we must not only think about the other, but feel for the other. We cannot view ourselves as separate entities, but must realize that each and every Jew is a vital part of the wholeness of the Jewish people.

The Jewish people are seen as one body. Just as a body is comprised of various limbs, muscles and organs, so, too, are the Jewish people comprised of millions of individual men, women and children, each of whom is needed to contribute to the communal whole the unique abilities, talents and personality that he or she has been blessed with. Because we are one body, when even the smallest part of our body is in pain, the entire body suffers: a tiny splinter in our little toe can distract our overall attention so much that it is as if the splinter is more important than our ability to walk, run, eat, think and function.

This is the meaning of love: that what is important and meaningful to one of us is respected and felt by the other. Each and every Jew shares a bond and connection that may, at times, be very deeply concealed—but that is precisely why it hurts so much. Worse than outright anger between those who should be close is when one or both parties are totally apathetic. If we argue and fight, at least it shows that we care. If we are cold, then we are so distant that nothing moves us. We have reached a low in which we don't even realize that we are all one family. More so, we have bought into the media's belief that we are really enemies amongst ourselves.

Recently we celebrated the holiday of Shavuot, the day on which all the Jewish people stood at Mount Sinai and received the Torah. We learn that it was not only our ancestors who were present—every single man, woman and child, including newborn babies, of that generation—but also the soul of each and every single Jew, of every generation of history. Our sages go so far as to say that if a single Jewish soul had been absent from Sinai, G‑d could not have chosen us as His people and given us the Torah. We could not have become the "People of Israel."

Wholeness of the Torah

In the same way the Jewish people need to be shalem, whole and complete, so, too, does our Torah. The Torah is not an Encyclopedia that can be picked through and taken in pieces. It is a scroll, the circle that encompasses our lives, and each and every letter within it must be complete, for truth is only truth in its wholeness.

On the most physical level, if even one single letter in a Torah scroll is missing, damaged or incomplete, the entire Torah is invalid. It cannot be read from or used in any way. Likewise, Maimonides counts as one of the thirteen foundations of Judaism the principle that to deny the truth and divinity of even a single word of Torah denies the entirety of Torah. For denying even one part of Torah denies the truth of its wholeness.

Thus we are taught that each Jew is represented by a letter in the Torah. In other words, the wholeness of the Jewish people and the wholeness of the Torah are intertwined. Every Jew is integral to the wholeness of the Torah, and our commitment to Torah is how we achieve wholeness as a people.

Wholeness of the Land of Israel

Once we recognize the completeness of the Torah and the completeness of the Jewish people—only then can we value the idea of the wholeness of the Land of Israel.

The Torah teaches us that each and every Jew possesses a portion of the Land of Israel and is forever connected to the land, regardless of where he or she is living. For the Land of Israel is G‑d's eternal gift to the Jewish people. It is integral to our divine mission as the place imbued with the holiness and special spiritual qualities that empower us to flourish as a people and serve as G‑d's light unto the nations.

Ultimately, this is our only true claim to the Land of Israel. The land is not ours because Lord Balfour so declared in 1917 or because the UN so voted in 1947; it's not even ours because we lived there for thousands of years or because we "deserved" a homeland after the Holocaust. These may all be valid arguments, but others can present counter-arguments to them. The Land of Israel is ours because the Creator declared in his Torah that the Land of Israel is the eternal inheritance of the people of Israel.

Every square foot of the land is integral to its wholeness, as is every letter to the wholeness of the Torah and every Jew to the wholeness of the Jewish people Every square foot of the land is integral to its wholeness, as every letter is integral to the wholeness of the Torah and every individual Jew is integral to the wholeness of the Jewish people.

True Peace

Yes, the path to peace requires compromise. When we find ourselves in discord with others, we must be prepared to reexamine our behavior, our desires and our preconceptions, as well as our perspective of ourselves and others. For all discord is based on falsehood and fragmentation—the opposite of shalom, wholeness and peace. So we must be willing to ask ourselves: where have we gone wrong? How have we damaged the wholeness upon which peace is dependent? We must be willing to relinquish the false attitudes and behaviors that have become entrenched in us—so entrenched that we call them true and convince ourselves that they are.

To achieve peace, we must first know the truth of who we are and what we believe. In this, the Torah is our guide: it is what has kept us together as a people and ensured our survival for thirty-three tumultuous centuries; it is what gives us the knowledge of what is true and the strength to pursue that truth. And as Jews, it is our responsibility to make the truth of the Torah accessible, understandable and beautiful to the world.

The path to true peace must be predicated on truth; when we discuss giving away parts of the Land of Israel, we deny truth, precluding any chance of peace This is the path to true peace: peace predicated on truth. When we will have the courage to unabashedly proclaim the Torah's truth to the world—that the land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people, and that we, as Jews, have neither the authority nor the ability to reject the Divine gift—then there will be peace; peace amongst us and peace with our enemies. For every human being was created by the same G‑d, and therefore, on the most essential level, every single human being ultimately desires truth, and when presented with the truth, will respect it and accept it.

On the other hand, peace that is predicated on falsehood, peace that is predicated on compromise of the truth, can never be a true peace. For something that is false is never whole, and peace only comes from wholeness.

When we discuss giving away parts of the Land of Israel, G‑d forbid, we deny our own truth, undermining the wholeness and integrity that is the only source of true peace. Not only do we show that we don't value what we were given, but even more so, that we don't value or respect the Giver and the purpose for which He gave us the gift. It should therefore come as no surprise that if we have no sense of responsibility to our Creator and our mission in life, the next step is to have no value of another's life, which is how it becomes possible to make decisions that will clearly result in the deaths of countless innocent victims.

Learning from our Enemies

We are so desperate for the euphoric idea of peace that we are willing to sacrifice human life in order to achieve that end. Thus we have the absurdity of a "peace" that is the very opposite of peace. From every perspective—from historical, geographical, economical, and military points of view—giving away land is disastrous for the security of Israel. We are dealing with an enemy who has time and time again made it very clear that they do not want part of our land, they want all of our land, and that they will keeping fighting us until they get it all, G‑d forbid.

In terms of security, it is clear that when land is given away, the result is an increase in attacks and terrorism. When giving our enemy this vantage point, we not only provide them with the physical and geographical ability to better attack us, but most importantly, we show that we are weak, that we are scared, that we are desperate. Willingness to hand land to one's enemy is the proof that we do not feel capable of protecting it, and do not find it valuable enough to fight for.

We need not search too far back in history for the prototype of such a delusional "peace": a scant twelve years ago the government of Israel entered into the Oslo "Peace Process" and began implementing it by installing and arming the PLO as a "Palestinian Authority" within the Land of Israel, resulting in thousands of deaths and tens of thousands of injuries of Jews by terrorists, and even more casualties and suffering among the Arabs.

Throughout history, it has been our enemies who have taught us what it is we need to value Throughout history, it has been our enemies who have taught us what it is we need to value. When we tried to assimilate in Spain, the Inquisition made it clear that no matter how much we tried to act, look and behave like a Spaniard, a Jew was a Jew was a Jew. Hundreds of years later, when Hitler came to power in Germany, he didn't care if someone felt Jewish, if they looked Jewish, if they lived a Jewish life. If there was any trace of Jewish blood, that was all that counted. In a sick, twisted and morbid irony, he showed the world that what exists in a Jew is something innate and unchangeable. And now, as the Arabs terrorize the world, bombing buses and pizzerias and shooting babies at point blank range, we blindly offer to give and give and give, hoping that it will be enough to satisfy their bloodthirsty desires.

But while we foolishly fall for the media's and politician's promises, our enemies have never changed their story. Until they have driven all the Jews into the sea and have conquered the Land of Israel in its entirety, they will not rest. At the rate we are going, they won't need to, since we seem to be all too willing to do it ourselves.

The Wisdom of Solomon

The Book of Kings relates how shortly after King Solomon was crowned king of Israel, G‑d appeared to him in a dream and asked: what do you desire? wealth? power? fame? Solomon asked for one thing only: wisdom.

The next morning, two women appeared before him. There was a beautiful baby boy, and each claimed be the mother of this child. It was clear that there was only one mother, but it seemed impossible to know which woman was telling the truth.

King Solomon issued his ruling: "Bring forth a sword; we will cut the baby in two, and each woman will receive one half."

Immediately upon hearing this, one of the women began crying and screaming that the other woman could have the baby, just as long as the baby is not hurt in any way. The other woman stood by impassively. "Give her the child," said King Solomon, pointing to the first woman. "She is the true mother."

One of the greatest symptoms of our dark exile is not just that the Jewish people are willing to let the land of Israel be divided. Perhaps even more distressing is that we have forgotten that we are the true mother.

It is time for us to give up the falsehoods of exile, and pursue the true path of "land for peace"--a whole and integral land, people and Torah, as the key for a true, eternal peace.

Sara Esther Crispe, a writer, inspirational speaker and mother of four, is the co-director of Interinclusion, a nonprofit multi-layered educational initiative celebrating the convergence between contemporary arts and sciences and timeless Jewish wisdom. Prior to that she was the editor of, and wrote the popular weekly blog Musing for Meaning. To book Sara Esther for a speaking engagement, please click here.
Based on the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, as presented in the book, Rectifying the State of Israel, by Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh
Image by web artist Bentzi Sudak
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with's copyright policy.
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
1000 characters remaining
Chad South Africa October 24, 2015

Why have people especially Jews bought into the lie that the Palestinians should get anything of Israel?
First off there is no evidence that Moslems are descended from Ismail.
Second,Ishmael was the child of Abram the uncircumcised and a slave girl. Yitzchok was the heir of Abraham the circumcised and his legal wife Sarah.
Third, the Palestinians are the descendants of 13th century Arab colonists. What right have they to Israel?

Give them the Sinai peninsula to be their homeland if they want one. Israel is already taken. Reply

Daniel Masri modiin August 2, 2013

OMG! OMG!! nothing else to say! Live long and prosper! Reply

ros England March 23, 2013

Piece or Peace Great article!No,you must never give up any more land-even if every Jew left Israel they would still be pursued until the ends of the earth because the Arab will never accept the Jew and it all stems from Isaac and Ishmael.This is G--d's will and certain things must come about before true peace is achieved.You are G--d's chosen,don't ever forget that and who can fight against G-d? Reply

shlomo toronto, Ontario canada December 23, 2010

I am a scared Jew I used to think it was so cut and dry but now I think twice about it now that the world has swarmed us like I do not know what and personally every night is a nightmare is there anything we can do to calm the world down a little, I am looking for your response to sooth my fears and tears Reply

Ariel Shayn LA, CA December 24, 2009

It is up to us to re-populate Israel. "Pray as if everything depends on G0d, act as if everything depends on, you." Reply

danny rosenberg September 4, 2008

my mind i have always been pro withdrawal because i believed that peace is more important than land, but this is making me think twice. i know that giving up land will be better economically but i dont belive that they only want part of the land. Reply

Nick Sydney, Australia October 24, 2007

Zionism & Its Bureaucracies The Price We Pay As a Jew, ho many times have goyim made profoundly ignorant comments about Jews and Israel. Jews the world over need to be equipped with the facts about what Islam and Arabs really stand for. Jews, thanks to the so-called zionist educationalists are not only being denied facts about Israel, but are also not being taught Torah True Judaism. The result is both ignorance and assimilation.

What is disturbing is the fact that the Israeli secular government has never produced articulate spokespeople, except for Abba Eban. The result is that ignorance becomes other nations' government foreign policy. Also due to the fact that Arabs are excellent at the media game and making their lies presentable and concealing their evil truths.

Bureaucracies cost a nation money, thereby robbing its citizens of vital resources, services etc. Reply

Paul Pomona, CA January 10, 2007

An anonymous Israeli Jew posted an important point on July 31, 2005: "It is easy to advocate extremist positions from the diaspora." Indeed, American Jews should consider who will die as the Israeli right seeks to establish "one state from the Miditerranean to the Jordan." Israelis will die, and for each Israeli, 10 Arabs will die. Meanwhile, the American Jew will sit in a Manhattan condo and enjoy an upper middle class lifestyle in secular America Reply

Robin Clark Lacrosse, Wisconsin November 28, 2005

I liked the story about piece or peace I don't think will ever see peace in this world or even in isreal or in jerusalem. I will pray for all the jews in this world so that the jewish people can have an inner peace within there own hearts for today. Reply

Anonymous Ny, NY October 9, 2005

Zionism I read both the article, Peace or Piece? by Mrs. Crispe and the posted comments. What really intrigued me was the reference to the Lubavitcher Rebbe's view on Zionism. Are Lubavitchers really so strongly against the State of Israel? And where can I find the sources to see what the Rebbe and his predecessor, the Rebbe Rashab actually wrote/said?
Thank you for a wonderful site.

David Stein philadelphia, Pa August 25, 2005

Gaza Wheather the disengagement for Gaza contributes to peace or not, I am still 100% behind the decision. It was a terrible waste of state resourses to support isolated settlements in a stop of land that we had no business being in the first place. Obviously I hope for peace through territorial compromise. The next disengagement from territory has to come as a result of a peace agreement and nothing else. It is inevitable that some sort of Palestinian entity come in existence and many of the settlers have to come to accept this. The occupation of land with well over a million Palestinians is not healthy for a Democratic Jewish state. Reply

Anonymous Philadelphia, PA August 10, 2005

"Pikuach Nefesh" trumps all other values... Dear Religious Israeli,

"In regards to Pikuach Nefesh trumping all other values including the "land of Israel"".

I thought Pikuach Nefesh trumped all minus THREE. One of them being saving life itself.

The argument I hear coming from Israel is that this puts the Israeli Jews in danger!

Also, if "pikuach Nefesh" trumps all values. Does that mean that one should never go to war if he can retreat and hide? Or is there a limit to how far you can retreat and hide before you or someone else is attacked?

Let's just remember we are all seeking the same outcome. (I hope).

shalom b. brooklyn, n.y. August 5, 2005

Gaza is part of the Promised Land To Meni from Natanya

The Bible classes taught you that they hadn't been conquered but they definitely are part of the Promised Land. This week's Tora portion ma'asai states that the southwest border is "the river of Egypt" which all agree is way past Gaza! Reply

Michael Marlboro, NJ August 4, 2005

Through Truth comes Peace It's only when we deny the truth that we deny the possibilty of achieving any peace. That was the mistake of the Rabin government. The author is absolutely right: we have neither tht authority nor the ability to give up a single inch of the land of Israel. Only truth can penetrate the heart of an enemy. Reply

Sylvia Rachel Quinn Kihei August 3, 2005

peace or piece True peace will eventually come to all of Israel and the World too for that matter. Mashiach is watching and waiting for the right time to do away with everything as we know it. Be patient, He/She is about to make that glorious appearance that we have all been waiting for. Pay a little more attention to what's happening in the world and you'll start to see quite clearly and you may even start sensing his/her presence. True peace is right within our hearts if we just search there. Our creator has always told us to search there first before anywhere else. If all humans were to search their hearts then their souls would be a whole lot happier. But alas we were created to live with darkness and light and we were left to decide which one we like better. So peace thru normal diplomatic arenas is quite futile as history has presented this as a matter of fact. Reply

Meni Netanya, Israel August 2, 2005

Complete land Is Gaza a part of the land that G-d gave us? If I remember correctly from my Bible classes, it is not!

I think the issue here is more security then divinity!.

Ronni East Meadow, NY August 2, 2005

Giving back Gaza After reading the very eloquent and most intelligent article by Sara Esther Crisp, I was even more convinced about the danger and stupidity of giving back land to the enemy, than I was before. The truth be that the Palestinians have no claim to the land, they are not from Israel and were forceably kicked out of every other country in which they resided. Why doesnt one of the other Arab countries, who are their brothers, give them land and autonomy - because they are not that foolish. Jews have been known forever to be forgiving and trusting to a fault. The holocaust should have taught us that one cannot surrender quietly or he will be destroyed.

Frankly the main point is that you cannot make a deal with the devil. He will not ever uphold his part of the bargain and therefore you cannot win. There will never be peace in the Middle East, not as long as there is one breathing Jew and one hating Arab - therefore, why give strength to the enemy.


Michael Lewis Netanya, Israel August 2, 2005

Peace or Piece article I fully understand those who cannot abide by giving land away. However, when it comes down to it, there is a basic brit in the Shema which says that if we keep G-d's commandments then He will let us live fully in Eretz Yisroel. But if, G-d forbid, we don't, we will be expelled from the land.

At this point we should realise that the disengagement plan is a Divine decree, and should be accepted as such. Those that divide the Jewish people at the moment are the religious - the 'settlers' who cling on to land that is guarded every day - putting the lives of soldiers at risk.

The religious camp in Israel should use this to spur them onto a greater level of Yirat Shamayim and Bein Adam L'Adam mitzvot. Only through these actions can we hope to fulfil our part of the bargain - not through active resistance. Reply

Adam Neira Melbourne, Australia August 2, 2005

The Redemption As Jeremiah reiterated..."Seek the welfare of the nation you dwell in, until Moshiach leads you back to the Holy Land."

Jeremiah out trumps Jabotinsky by a country mile.

A Messianic State in the Holy Land is the prophesied solution, and that is what will unfold.

The whims and vagaries of vox populi come and go like the wind. Prophecy however is immutable. Reply

Thomas Karp August 2, 2005

To Sarah Esther Crispe This is quite a good article of yours, and I can find virtually no fault in it. If I may paraphrase you: The only real peace plan for Medinah Yisrael [the State of Israel] actually requires that it not give up it's land. 'Land for peace' is a futile idea, and those within Bnai Israel who subscribe to this notion need to change their minds. I know this first hand because I spent 2 and half years living and practicing as a Muslim, and the corruption of extremist fanaticism within it is too deeply entrenched to be remedied by Medinah Yisrael giving away the little that it has in land. No, instead real peace can only come by Bnai Israel standing it's ground. Sara you seem to understand this quite well, and you did a good job putting it all in a Torah context here. Todah rabbah. Reply