Ultimately, as it pertains to the practice of war, the prophet Isaiah calls us to beat swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. Each nation must not lift up sword against nation nor study any more war. (Isaiah 2:4). The prophecy marks a beautiful, peaceful aspiration, but one which we have yet to achieve. In the meantime, war has its place: to protect our citizens; to defend our greatest ideals like freedom and democracy. Indeed, Judaism values life to the highest degree. At the same time, we, the Jewish people, are not pacifists. While we’d prefer to eliminate evil in non-violent fashion, sometimes doing so is unrealistic. Sometimes we must act in violent, war-filled ways; and as long as we first offer peace, we can follow with acts of war should our peace efforts be spurned. Commenting on Deut. 20:12, Rashi tells us that dangerous disputes must be resolved because in that danger we often find an evil that can truly harm us. Thus, for as long as we have to combat this evil, we will need soldiers. And, for as long as we need soldiers, we must take days like Veterans Day to make the contributions of our soldier’s matter.
My deepest thanks to all our veterans for your service and sacrifice. To honor you, please come this Friday, November 17 for a blessing of appreciation. Our service begins at 8:00 pm. We look forward to welcoming you.
Make it a day of blessing and be a force for good.