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TAO: The South Florida Center for Jewish Renewal, Kabbalah, Spiritual, Meditation, Temple Adath Or, Synagogue, Shul, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Palm Beach, Boca Raton, South Florida, Rabbi Shoni Labowitz, Rabbi Marc Labowitz
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Rabbi  Marc  Labowitz
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Creating Peace

by Rabbi Marc Labowitz

This is dedicated to the lives of Col. Ilan Ramon and all the holy crew of the space shuttle Columbia.

There is a need expressed in this and every conscious community now for Peace and the common question is: What Can I do to make Peace happen? According to our masters, we occupy three worlds...

  • The world of the Self - Me
  • The world of the Community - Jew, Christian, Moslem, American, Floridian... etc.
  • The world Beyond - I am a part of the Human race

To be at peace, we must make peace in all three worlds together. We can get there by asking these three questions: How can I make peace for me, my community, and my world?

The Torah likens the tree of the field to man (Devarim, 20:19)

I am creating a system by which I can grow peace one branch at a time. I mention branch because they are extensions of one well-rooted trunk; that is you.

How can I create peace in me?

Peace, as any other issue that faces us today, requires our care and attention. We start by cultivating peace in our self. I used to work for Green Peace and saw the following scenario repeatedly: Someone developed great peace rallies, protecting our water systems, banning toxic incineration and protecting all of Gods beautiful creatures. Then this same person would go home and insult his wife, argue with his family, and go to bed unhappy only to wake up again the following day to make peace for the rest of the world.

This man had all of his branches directed toward peace without a solid trunk for his tree. This solid trunk is the foundation for Self peace, peace for himself and then hopefully peace for his family.

There is much we can learn from a gardener. How does the gardener tend to his own tree? He waters it, tends to its stability, soil and growth. If I am the gardener of my own tree, then when I am with my tree, my focus for that moment is entirely with that tree. This way my tree gets properly nourished and cultivated so it can bloom and be robust and just by being the self contained tree that it is it contributes to the betterment of it's surroundings. The tree as it begins to grow and strengthen is a beautiful metaphor for the self. For instead of water we must nourish ourselves with peace and principles of peace.

Here's an example: Be kind to your self. Create intimacy with and listen to the needs of your self. Learn what promotes peace within you, and nourish your self with those ingredients that create peace and serenity within You. Be unconcerned with what is conventionally peaceful. Focus on what inspires peacefulness in you. Nourish that.

Once I've nourished my tree fully and established my trunk and grown firm and deep roots by giving my self what it needs, I can begin to venture outward. It is now time to give to the world around me.

What can I do to create peace for my people?

My gardener cultivated a strong sense of peace in his tree in his garden, so my garden is developing heartily on it's own. I, the Gardener, take some of my seeds and fruits and soil and send them to my family living in another land to contribute to their garden. Here's a beautiful example:

Col. Ilan Ramon, father and husband, is a colonel in the Israeli Air Force, a pilot in the Yom Kippur war, and the son of a Holocaust survivor of Auschwitz. He has ties to his community and his people Israel. He is also a self-described "secular Jew." Ramon honored his heritage and religion during the mission by eating kosher food and looking for a way to practice the Sabbath.

Although Jewish astronauts had flown in space before -- most notably Judy Resnik, who was lost in the 1986 Challenger disaster -- Ramon's queries caught the space agency a little off guard, officials were able to handle the requests. "As an Israeli and as a Jew I asked NASA to supply kosher food for my menu in space," Ramon said. "I was surprised and overwhelmed with the effort NASA put in trying to accommodate my request."

Another way Ramon plans to commemorate the history of Jews is by carrying into space a pencil drawing entitled "Moon Landscape." Created by a 14-year-old boy named Peter Ginz, it is a drawing that shows how Earth might look if you were on the Moon and looking back at our home world. What makes the drawing so important to Ramon is that it was created while Ginz was in a Nazi concentration camp, before the boy died in 1944.

"I know my flight is symbolic for the people of Israel, especially the Holocaust survivors." Ramon continued, "Because I was born in Israel, many people will see this as a dream that is come true." (Source: NASA website)

The astronaut, Col. Ilan Ramon, wasn't a particularly religious or observant Jew. He did recognize, however, that he was no longer flying for himself. He was flying for Israel and Jews across the globe, so he made himself an extension for Jews religious and secular alike, Jews spiritually linked to their faith and Jews linked by Heritage. He was the Gardener. He recognized that his tree trunk had been watered and fully developed, for he was at his peak professionally. By making these requests of NASA not as an astronaut but as a Jew, Ramon involved his community, his people, his religious family. He moved to the next level of this system of creating peace: he took some of his roots and his growth and shared it with his larger family. Not only did he make this a great step for himself, Col. Ramon, which he deserved, he made it one giant leap for Jews and Israel. In this pivotal moment in his life and career, he asked, "What can I do for my people Israel?" and he brought his community into the moment where they could shine as well.

What can I do for the globe and my brothers and sister worldwide?

This is the heart of your tree, because it only requires that you expand your heart a little. It means getting to know other trees and gardens, cultures and people. It means getting involved in global and local peace foundations, programs, and initiatives.

Greet people outside your community. Look them in the eye and smile! That's the easy part, and we can start here. Then learn to live with others outside your community. This is where the fun begins... and it can be wonderful, colorful fun. It requires only your flexibility. This is where we feel our branches, because to open your self to others demands nothing more than a smile, patience and flexibility. Trees with firm roots and strong trunks bend and shake. Its branches dance and its leaves sing. It is the most elegant example nature offers of flexibility. It means more than just opening yourself up; it means remaining flexible.

Developing strength

Triangles are the strongest shapes. It is the one figure that is impossible to push off balance. It is firmly rooted on its stance, the most grounded of all shapes. Our triangle is our three points: self-development, community awareness, and global awareness. So while it's important to focus on your self and your community, give special focus to the world beyond these two levels to complete the triangle. This is where the branches of peace begin to extend.

This is not talking about peace or shouting about peace... but living peace. Peace occupies every world I do. And I am connected to a peace that is my very base.

So how does this translate into your life?

Keep your spiritual practice consistent. Make sure it nurtures you, truly you. Don't meditate because everyone else is; what truly nourishes your spirit.

Share your personal practice with your community. Contribute to the energy of your community. Otherwise your peace stays on the level of self. Come to services. Sing with your friends. Talk about God with your loved ones. Talk to God with your loved ones.

Encourage your community to reach out to other communities. Join the efforts of JAM, Rabbi Arthur Waskow and the Shalom Center, our own Dr. Florence Ross's peace initiatives, and other organizations that promote peace.

As beings of light and Beings of God,

Speak in the nature. Celebrate the peace you have. First believe it in yourself. Therefore you must test it and play with it. Challenge it and investigate peace until you know there is no other way to exist. Once you find this solid truth, you will plant your feet and violence and distortion; you will join Godliness in the task of healing the earth (based on the writings of Emmanuel).

B'ahava / Love
Rabbi Marc

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