A RABBINIC CALL TO PREVENT A NUCLEAR “FLOOD OF FIRE” AND TO SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT

When you approach a city to wage war against it, you shall first offer it terms of peace.
Deuteronomy 20:10

I will create a new expression of the lips:
“Peace, Peace to the one who is far off and the one who is near,” says God…
Isaiah 57:19

Wisdom is better than weapons of war.
Ecclesiastes 9:18


In a world of extreme, violent power, with leaders who posture dangerously with zealous, immoderate rhetoric, we rabbis in the United States have joined to express a demand and a prayer, based in the sacred legacy of our tradition and the profound suffering of Jewish and world history.
 
This is a time for diplomacy not destruction, discussion not discord, a leadership of level-headedness not the bravado of brinksmanship.  Recent actions of the government of North  Korea (the People’s Republic of Korea, PRK) represent a severe, urgent threat to the United States but we must not let its leader succeed in his provocations, triggering our fears in such a way that we add to the fury and fire rather than pursue a comprehensive strategy of diplomatic, economic, psychological, and other approaches.
 
We urge the United States Government to offer the government of the People's Republic of Korea a guarantee, embodied in a treaty ratified by the US Senate to become the law of the land, that the United States will not invade the PRK, nor attack it, nor attempt to overthrow its government; that in exchange, the PRK will in stages to be negotiated reduce and eliminate its nuclear weapons in step with action by the US and the UN to reduce and eliminate sanctions against the PRK.

Internally, we urge that Congress pass legislation to forbid the first use of nuclear weapons by the United States, to reduce the US nuclear arsenal to numbers that provide deterrence against nuclear attack, rather than a meaningless dominance in nuclear instruments of holocaust; and to commit the US to a schedule for adherence to the Treaty abolishing nuclear weapons just adopted by the United Nations, in accordance with the adherence to that treaty by other nuclear or would-be nuclear powers.

We invoke the ancient rabbinic midrash that Humankind may come to face not a Flood of Water but a Flood of Fire; that the Rainbow is the symbol of our own commitment to prevent a Flood of Fire; and that we are taught to “seek peace and pursue it” to remind us to pursue peace even if it seems to  be running away from us.

We are the generation that stands
between the fires:
Behind us the flame and smoke
that rose from Auschwitz and from Hiroshima
And from the burning of the Amazon forest;
Before us the nightmare of a Flood of Fire,
The flame and smoke that could consume all Earth.

It is our task to make from fire not fury,
Not an all-consuming blaze —  
But the light in which we see each other fully.
All of us different, All of us bearing
One Spark.

We light these fires to see more clearly
That the Earth and all who live as part of it
Are not for burning.
We light these fires to see more clearly
The Rainbow in the many-colored faces of all life.
Blessed is the One within the many.
Blessed are the many who make One.

[Light a Shabbat or Havdalah candle or a "Candle of Commitment."]

Please complete the following information. Fields with * are required.

Draw down for list of titles (Rabbi, Ms., etc)
First and last name will be shared with other visitors to the site.
The name of your congregation or other Jewish institution will be noted for identification only, and it will be clear that it does not mean an organizational endorsement of this Rabbinic Letter.
Your state/province and country of residence may be shared with others so folks can find others in their community.