In honor of Rashi’s 902nd yahrzeit [anniversary of passing]
Rashi’s Plan for Peace [see Rashi on Genesis 45:24]
Rashi, Bible scholar, (1040-1105 CE), Troyes, France
I was visiting with Rashi the poet on a hillside in eastern France,
it was winter. Snow on the ground. We were sitting on bales in a circle as the sun began to set. During our discussion, Rashi’s daughter I think her name was Miriam, was speaking in quiet tones from behind a screen to her father.
My daughter reminds me, Rashi used a word in medieval French for reminds,
there is a plan for peace concealed in the text. Rashi then told us three ideas, his plan for peace.
It was getting dark so Rashi lit some candles. He also gave us grapes about then, they were translucent dark, blue black, almost lapis, I had never seen such grapes. Rashi opened with this: don’t get theoretical. Stay away from general principles. Make peace person to person, not theory to theory. We were all eating grapes.
The second thing he said was to take small steps, one at a time, make peace manageable. Peace will take time. Start with an agreement, a treaty.
Here’s the third thing: Peace starts now.
Stay out of the past, out of guilt, recriminations, who did what to whom, stay away from blame and shame. Let the peace begin.
By this time it was dark. The candles had burned down. There were no candles left. Rashi asked me to get some icicles from across the field. I brought back four or five icicles, Rashi put them in the candle holders, lit them, and we continued learning.
Rashi said, the first light, created day one, was specially created, the light that sustains but was hidden away for the future.
As he spoke I saw him gather the light with his hands, like he was moving the air around above the flames, like he was gathering light into his arms.
james stone goodman
united states of america