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From Sefer Kavanos Halev, By Moshe at ilovetorah.com
Yisrael, Loving ones Fellow Jew
Holy One, blessed be He, said, ‘My beloved children, do I lack anything that I
have to ask you for it? All I ask is that you love and honor each other. Nothing
de’Bei Eliyahu Rabbah 26)
of the word shalom – peace - is shalaim
- whole, complete.
do people fight against others? It is because they are not whole or at peace
‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ implies not one command, but two, in
specific sequence. One can only come to love others if they first love
themselves. Animosity towards others is self-hatred turned outward. First make
yourself whole, find inner peace. You will then come to love your neighbor and
be at one with your fellow man.
The Nikolsburg Rebbe, one of the greatest tzaddikim
of this generation, constantly speaks about the importance of shalom
among the Jewish people. The
Kalaver Rebbe once spoke to me about shalom,
saying that all the proper pathways arrive at the same destination.
The exploration for peace must be
twofold: within the Jewish people as a whole and within each individual. Every
person must resolve conflicts that exist between the different parts of his
character. He must acquire a harmonious attitude toward his life experiences, so
that he doesn’t view them in either a positive or negative light: he will find
Hashem in everything. Through Torah
and the tzaddikim, both of which are called ‘peace’, each person can
attain this harmony and feel love for Hashem
and his fellow Jew. In this way, peace will extend throughout the Jewish people.
Without loving ones fellow Jew, a person cannot truly love Hashem.
The Baal Shem Tov used to say that love of the Jewish people is identical to love
of Hashem. “You are children unto Hashem
your Creator.” (Deuteronomy 14:1). When one loves their father, naturally one
loves their children.
Conversely, “if you do not respect your parents, your children will not
us wants to feel loved and cared for by others. Many of us are searching for
love, whether through marriage, friendship or even a brief encounter in the
person’s face should always be radiant, and he should receive every one with a
Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai always greeted others before they had the opportunity
to greet him, even in the market place. This was a gesture of Ahavas
Beyond the basics that are required for the body to survive, each of us
needs sustenance for our souls, which varies with each individual. Some of us
need understanding and acceptance, some seek sympathy, while others need
empathy. Much of this should be found within us but there is a lack of it from
those around us. When our reserves of self-love run low, we need to be able to
count on those close to us to give us a needed boost. Even though I’ve made
mistakes, Hashem was there to hold me.
There is no place I can fall that Hashem wouldn’t be there to pick me up. The same applies to a true
mortal friend. What is a friend? A friend is someone who is there for you when
you need them, when it really counts. “Two are better than one, for if one of
them falls, the other will lift up his fellow. Woe to the single one, for he has
no companion to lift him up.”
When I am at my lowest point, I don’t need someone else to scrutinize my
actions. I will recover better with a supportive ear and a verbal pat on the
back than with judgment and criticism.
What is ahavah?
In the literal sense, it means love and endearment, but its true meaning is much
deeper than that. Its gematria
(numerical value) equals 13.
The Torah commands us, “Love your
neighbor as yourself, I am the Hashem.”
(Leviticus 19:18). Two people who love one another become joined through their
love. The ahavah, 13 of one partner,
joined with the ahavah, 13 of the
other partner, become 26, which equals the gematria
of Hashem’s four-letter name YKVK.
Where man joins his fellow man in love, Hashem
chooses to dwell and make His presence felt.
Each of us wants to receive love that is one that is unconditional - no
strings attached! When love is
given conditionally, if whatever the love is based upon ceases to exist, love
ceases to exist. If the love is not dependent on some other factor, it never
ceases to exist.
Hashem gives us this love. No matter
what we do, He still loves us. “Hashem
is good to all, and His mercy is upon all His creatures.” (Psalms 145:9). We
honor Hashem when we show respect to
His creatures. Therefore, a person should not abuse any being that exists, for
all are made in Wisdom.
You should not uproot a plant unnecessarily; nor should you kill any living
thing without cause.
Unconditional love is what we receive from our parents and, in turn, give
to our children. We don’t say to our toddler, ‘if you’re a good boy, then
I’ll love you.’ There may be times when we don’t like how our children
behave, but they are always confident in our love for them. We all make
mistakes; in fact, the Jewish nation has wronged their Creator over and over.
Why has Hashem been so patient with
us? He does not focus on our errors; He
focuses on finding
the good of His people. Shouldn’t we do the same with our fellow Jews?
What do I want from friendship? I want to know that no matter what I do,
you will never look down upon me. Whether I bag groceries or I’m a doctor, I
want to know that you will support me. I want you to see into my heart and not
be blinded by my exterior. I don’t
want you to judge me positively because Hashem
blessed me with physical beauty. I don’t want you to judge me poorly because I’m
overweight or have a disability. I want you to judge the real me, the one that
is inside this superficial covering. Most importantly, I want you to remain my
friend when we have differences of opinion. We do not always have to like the
same things; we do not always have to dislike the same things. We can agree to
disagree, still love each other and remain friends.
Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach taught, “The question is not how much you love
each other. Rather the question is how much you love one another when you hate
Love cannot be taught; it is a gift from heaven. We are taught to hate and this,
we must unlearn. Love is the force that binds us together with our neighbor, our
co-worker, millions of people we’ve yet to meet and those we will never meet.
Let there to be love connecting us. We learned to love in Heaven, before we were
born and we need to return to that pure, untarnished emotion.
If we could envision a picture in our minds of all the people around the
world and choose whom we want to love, would anyone be left out? Of course we
have adversaries. Therefore we learn: “Who is a hero? Who is mighty? He who
turns an enemy into a friend.”
significance of peace is to join opposites. You shouldn’t be troubled when you
come across someone who is your exact opposite and whose thoughts are contrary
to yours. Do not conclude that you will never be able to live harmoniously. The
laws of physics dictate that opposites attract. If you see two individuals who
are totally different, you should not decide it is inconceivable to make peace
between them. On the contrary, absolute peace is achieved through the effort to
make peace between opposites, just as Hashem
makes peace in His high places between fire and water, which are opposing
forces. The pathway to peace is to sanctify the name of Hashem, through complete self-sacrifice. Then it is possible to pray
with genuine devotion.
A tzaddik who was not a
follower of the Baal Shem Tov was once
sitting alone in his study when he heard a knock at the door. “Come in”, the
tzaddik called. A beggar entered with
his knapsack on this back. “Shalom Aleichem”,
he greeted the beggar. “What is a Jew’s name and where do you come from?”
The beggar replied, “I am ashes and dust, that is my name. And who are you?”
he asked the tzaddik. “I too am
ashes and dust.” The beggar stated, “If we are both mere ashes and dust, why
must there be controversy between us”? The tzaddik
understood that his visitor was his now former adversary, none other then
the Baal Shem Tov.
The holy Baal Shem Tov was saying to
his fellow Jew, I don’t know how we became enemies. You are supposed to love
me because we have one creator! “Why do people hate one another? Deep down
they do not believe Hashem created
them. If only it
was clear to them that there is only one Hashem
and that He
created them, they would love each other.”
Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev explained, “The Torah completes the verse in Vayikra
19:18 ‘Love your fellow man,’ with the statement, ‘I am the A-mighty.’
This is to impart to us that we are to love others as ourselves because we all
have one Creator. Therefore, we should feel the happiness of others and,
similarly, empathize with their misfortunes. Herein is the essence of all of our
obligations towards our fellow man.”
Akiva had twenty-four thousand students who all died within a short time because
they failed to honor one another properly.
Each of the students was a talmud chochum
(Torah scholar) in his own right, yet they all lacked respect for
Torah learning amassed by their fellow students. They created a chillul
Hashem (desecration) when others viewed their lack of Ahavas
Yisroel. They failed to fulfill the expectations of how men of their stature
and learning should behave. B’nai
Yisroel merited receiving the Torah
because of the achdus (unity) they
displayed at Mt. Sinai. We celebrate Shavuos
when we ‘re-receive’ the Torah,
every year. Since the students of Rabbi Akiva did not treat each other with
respect, they did not merit living until Shavuos.
All Jews are kin to one another, for their souls
include one another. In each soul, there is a component of every other soul.
Therefore, a person should always wish his fellow well and regard any good that
comes to his fellow’s lot with pleasure. His fellow’s honor should be as
important to him as his own, for in truth it is his own. It is for this reason
we were commanded, “love thy neighbor as thyself.”,
We must work on acquiring proper sensitivity towards others, as it does not
The Chazon Ish once advised, “For a
person to be able to feel the suffering of others he must first train himself to
do everything he can to help them and to save them from suffering. These types
of actions will affect his emotions. In addition, he should pray for the welfare
of others even if at initially he does not actually feel their anguish.”
The Rabbi of
Hornosteipel, once said, “If any of my chassidim
experience pain, even in the tip of his little finger, I feel that pain myself.”
Rabbi Dovid of Lelov had a son who was, at a time, gravely ill. The community,
who loved the Rabbi and his son dearly, gathered together in order to say Tehillim
that he should regain his health. When the young boy started showing signs of
recovery, they ran to Rabbi Dovid to tell him the good news. Upon hearing the
news, he began to cry. Taken aback by his outcry, they asked him, “the child
is so much better, why are you crying?” The Rabbi responded, “Yes, my son is
better because people gathered together and offered up special prayers for him,
donating large sums to charity. But let me ask you, what about other people’s
children? When they become ill, the shul
is not filled with people praying for their recovery. So why should I not cry?”
Dovid of Lelov truly cared about his fellow Jews. He would travel from town to
town, going out of his way to greet his brothers, inquiring if there was
anything he could do for them. He was an owner of a small shop with a meager
income, yet even in business, his midos
were impeccable. He was about to open his shop one day, when he noticed that,
although customers were waiting outside his competitor’s store, it was still
closed. Rabbi Dovid knew that if he opened his doors, the customers would come
to him. Therefore, he ran to his competitor’s house calling him, “Hurry,
there are customers at your store.” He understood that his income was
predetermined and would come his way; he was not going to take advantage of his competitor
The Chofetz Chaim, the
preeminent authority on proper speech, writes that even if someone does not say
or do anything against another person, but merely refuses to talk to him, he
violates the prohibition against hating others. Moreover, for every second that
one feels hatred toward another person, one violates this prohibition.
“Man can catch sight of his reflection in water only when he bends down
close to it. The heart of man, too, must lean toward the heart of his fellow,
then it will see itself within his heart.”
When so many Jews have fallen, don’t you think they are waiting for you to
be there for them, to lift them up back to Yiddisheit?
They are screaming for help, but we’ve closed our ears and we just don’t
hear them! All they want is to know is that when they have fallen from faith and
traditions, we still love them. We must show them our love. The Baal
Shem Tov once saw one of his followers kiss his little boy. He remarked, “I
love the lowest and worst Jew in the world even more then you love your only
many branches and sects of Judaism in our time, how does a person know where
they belong and to how much ritual they should adhere? This is a difficult
question to answer, considering how much controversy there is, not only between
the various religions but also within the individual religions themselves.
Judaism isn’t just a religion; it’s a way of life. We possess a special
power to change the world and make a difference in the spiritual realms. We are,
after all, G-D’s chosen people; with this designation comes responsibility.
Being Jewish transcends each of us as individuals, but includes all the Jewish
people and the entire world. If you have not discovered the special greatness of
your soul, you will, through learning more of your roots and continuous study of
our Torah. Reading this sefer
(book) or any other that is geared at helping us reach a higher madreiga
(spiritual level) is significant to our growth as Jews. As we grow in our
knowledge and our adherence to religious ritual, we might think it necessary to
separate ourselves from those who are less inclined toward Yiddishkeit. This is not necessary. Each of us can have a tremendous
impact on others; by observing us, they can see that we become more loving, less
judgmental, emulating the midos of Hashem.
many pathways, how are we to know which one is right for us? One has to search
their entire life, always seeking the best paths to follow. There is no one
correct course, but there are many which follow the code of Jewish law, halacha.
Some of our greatest sages wrote The Talmud
so we would know
how to follow the laws of the Torah.
Talmud, Rabbi Yosef Caro wrote the Shulchan
Aruch, which is followed by many
such as the Mishna Berurah, by the
Chafetz Chaim. Halacha is the
foundation from which Judaism is built. Every country has laws by which its
citizens must abide; we have the guidelines ordained by Chazal (our Sages), in their interpretation of Jewish law. Halacha
was not created to put added stress into our lives, but it is a way, the
only way, to come close to G-D. Rebbe Nachman says that the Shulchan
Aruch is the main work a Jew should learn. Assimilation has affected so much
of the Jewish population that most people do not conform with the basic code of
Jewish law today. The Baal Teshuva
movement has returned thousands of Jews from all walks of life back to their
roots. Without a code of law, how would they know what rituals to follow?
Nachman once said that the Baal Shem Tov
had achieved the holiness and purity of Moshe Rabbeinu.
The Chazan Ish said we relate to the Gaon
of Vilna as being in the line of Moshe Rabbeinu.
Aren’t they both sitting with shalom
together in Gan Eden (the Garden of
Eden, considered as ‘Utopia’, where our souls go after departing this
world)? These were both very holy Rabbis who, with their different ways of
serving Hashem, remained in compliance with the code of Jewish law.
Each of us is Hashem’s unique
creation: Like snowflakes, no two of us are alike. As Jews, we are in the habit
of labeling one another. Does the term Litvish,
Chassidish, Conservative, or Reform
define an individual? Are we too stubborn to explore the teachings of those that
are different? Rabbi Taub of Baltimore told me that a Chassidish man with a short coat in Baltimore could reach a higher madreiga
then one wearing a long coat in Israel. Why must we prejudge? Why must there be
even the slightest confrontation and antagonism? Must we look at a Chassid with our predetermined notions of what a Chassid
is like? Shall we view all Litvish
Jews the same? Each of us is completely unique with special qualities that can
be shared with everyone. Germany tore down the dividing wall long ago. We should
be seeking the similarities that bring us together rather than the differences
that tear us apart. It is time that we come together with one goal, to bring the
Moshiach (Messiah). We must learn to
look at one another with righteousness and be dan l’kaf z’chus – judge each person favorably.
can single-handedly change the world; we have to do it together. Let us make a
deal: First, we will love each other and together we will show others love. They
in turn will show more love until it multiplies and reaches everyone. Since it
has to start someplace, let it be with us, especially from the example we set
for our children. A child cannot learn Ahavas Yisrael when they do not understand why their parents
constantly fight. The real victims of the escalating divorce rate are the
children who grow up in broken homes. How are they supposed to learn respect for
others when their parents do not treat each other with respect? How are these
same kids supposed to understand love when they do not live in a loving
environment? Children live what they learn. If they only learn how to hate when
they are home, what will they bring out into the world? Where there is peace in
the home, the Shechinah resides.
very important to not forget the honor due one’s parents. “Honor your father
and mother in order that your days may be long upon the land which the Hashem
your Hashem gives to you.” (Shemos 20:12). As a young man, Rabbi Leib of Kelm once came home very late
at night from the Bais Hamedrash.
His parents had already gone to bed and he didn’t have a key with him. So as
not to awaken them, he remained in the street all night despite the extreme
If you fail to properly honor your parents, then you will be deficient in
your respect of Rabbanim. We learn that there are three partners in creation of man:
Hashem, his father and mother. Chazal
(the sages) taught that when a man honors his parents, it is as if he had
brought down the Shechinah to dwell
with them and honored Hashem. But
whenever a man’s actions cause his parents to grieve, Hashem
withholds His Presence so that He might not be grieved as well.” 
should treat their Rebbeim with the
utmost respect. One should show them that they appreciate their time, advice and
Torah learning. Some Rebbes
humble themselves more than usual to be friendly; it is vital that you take
special care not to treat them as you would a peer. You have to respect them for
there Torah learning and daas (knowledge).
In Sefer Chasidim, it says, “Included
in the mitzvah of loving Hashem
is the mitzvah of loving a Torah
scholar, who studies the word of Hashem.”
The Talmud says, “A person who loves
a Torah scholar will be blessed with
children who will be Torah scholars.”
Rabbi Scheinberg entered the Bais Medrash
one day and everyone stood up. He motioned to them to sit, but my friend was
told he could continue to stand. When asked why, Rabbi Scheinberg replied, “When
you stand up, you are honoring me for my Torah learning while they are standing to show me honor.”
learn a great deal about love and respect from tzaddikim.
There are fifteen characteristics stated of a Torah scholar: stately in approach, saintly in sitting, subtle in
wisdom, wise in act, knowing his place, rejoicing in his lot, not according
credit to himself, assimilative [in intellect], retentive, reflective, asking
and answering, listening and adding [something novel] to each matter [under
discussion], paying attendance upon the sages, and learning for the sake of
looking for their bashert,
(predestined marital partner), singles tend to look for someone like himself or
herself. A real zivug (match) is a
match between opposites. The purpose of marriage is to grow with your partner.
You can’t grow if you don’t see what is missing inside you. The job of your
partner is to help you find what you cannot see. Pushing, pulling, yelling, and
putting your partner down aren’t the ways to show someone areas in which they
need to improve. You have to use tact, brilliance and most of all, love. Most
important, one must be patient, as no one can make changes overnight.
Furthermore, while your partner is working on incorporating your suggested
changes into their being, they are helping you discover your shortcomings and
internalize those improvements. To properly appreciate a spouse or friend, you
have to take time out to reflect. Everyday your spouse does hundreds of things
for you that you don’t notice or appreciate. We may not be aware of some of
the things our mate does for us. Especially when a couple has been together for
a long time, they begin to take these small, unnoticed favors for granted and,
as a result, take their mate for granted. We have to stop regularly and take
notice. Just as we learn to thank Hashem
for all He does for us, we have to learn to appreciate our partner in life. On
his return from shul Friday night,
Rabbi Simcha Zissel Ziv would not enter his home immediately, but would pause by
the door and gaze at the set table and pleasant food his wife had prepared. He
did this to feel grateful for all that she did for him.
couple is meant to help each other grow and improve, constantly correcting
someone leads to an acrimonious relationship. The most successful technique is
to change your own ways and then your partner will naturally do the same. If you
don’t want chas v’
shalom a divorce, first improve your
own midos; with patience, your spouse
will want to please you back. It is important for Ahavas Yisrael to start in the home. If you cannot properly love
your spouse and treat her with respect, then you are fooling yourself if you
think you are treating others well. True chessed
begins at home and extends beyond.
Yisroel Salanter said that when he first started learning mussar, he became
angry at the world, but remained at peace within. As he studied further, he also
became angry with himself. Finally, only the anger for him remained while his
anger for others melted away and he became dan
l’kaf zchus – judging others favorably. 
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev spotted a man greasing the wheels of
his wagon while he was wearing his tallis
and tefillin. Instead of being furious at this sacrilege, the Rabbi
turned his eyes towards heaven and proclaimed, “See, Master of the World, how
holy Your children are! Even when he is engaged in greasing his wheels, he
nevertheless remembers to pray to You.” The person who judges his neighbor in
the scale of merit is himself judged favorably [by Hashem].”
Reb Levi Yitzchok trained himself to be dan
l’kaf z’chus – to judge everyone positively. However, favorable
judgment by an onlooker does not diminish the error made by a person who misuses
objects of kedushah, (holiness), such
as a man who wears tallis and tfillin
when he attends to everyday, common activities.
Whether marriage or friendship, the key to any relationship is giving
without the thought of receiving back. The same holds true with Ahavas
Yisrael. If you want to feel loved by your fellow Jews, you have to it give
to them. The thought may occur to you, what if they don’t give back to me?
Give to them anyway and Hashem will
reward you in return. There are so many Jews out there waiting for someone to
give them love in the simplest form.
During the Passover
Seder, one of Rabbi Akiva Eiger’s
guests accidentally spilled some wine on the tablecloth. Perceiving his guest’s
embarrassment, Rabbi Akiva Eiger discreetly shook the table so that his cup of
wine also tumbled over. “It looks like something must be wrong with the table.
It’s not standing properly,” Rabbi Eiger explained.
Yechuzkail Levenstein explains true chessed
toward ones fellow, “A person who has a love for wealth will persistently look
for ways to obtain more money. So, too, when you acquire the trait of loving to
do chessed, you will look for every
possible occasion to do chessed. Even
though other people could do the same acts of kindness, knowing that you
personally gain when you do chessed,
and therefore you will want to do all you possibly can for others. “Be
concerned about the welfare of others even when they do not look for you to
assist them. Be motivated to do chessed
because of an inner desire to help others. “Likewise, loving to do chessed
means you will not find fault with the potential recipient of the chessed.
Since you recognize it is your own need and desire to do acts of kindness, you
will not be concerned about whether the person could have done something for
himself. Your love of chessed gives
you an gratitude for each opportunity to do an act of kindness.”
Shlomo Carlebach once said, “Often, I mention holy beggars, but people ask me,
who, mamish is really a holy beggar?
Open your hearts my most beautiful chaverim.
A holy beggar is someone who is begging you to allow him to give!” If your
ears are not open to the cries of the poor, then your ears are deaf and you will
not be able to hear Hashem calling
either.” Reb Shlomo was one of the most famous singers in Jewish history,
making thousands of dollars per concert. When he died, he was penniless. They
even had to collect to pay his funeral expenses. His entire life was devoted to
the people and he gave all his money away.”
Peace is among the highest of qualities; it is one of the
names of Hashem. Whenever you find
peace, fear of Heaven is found; where there is no peace, there is no fear of
person who loves peace and pursues it will merit and witness the coming of Moshiach,
who, at his arrival,
initiate first with peace, as it is written: “How comely upon the mountains
are the feet of the herald, announcing peace!”
sages of blessed memory, declared, “There isn’t any vessel for holding
blessings but peace, as it is written: ’Hashem
will give strength to His people and Hashem
will bless His people with peace.’
Through practicing what you have learned in Kavanos
Halev, you will come to peace. With Hashem’s help, you should be able to pursue a peace between
yourself, your fellow man and Hashem.
For it is through the power of peace that the world endures.
I believe that you can fulfill all of your goals and desires
to serve Hashem properly. After all,
“The thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart to do it.”
All of the mussar sefarim
are useless unless you want to implement true change in yourself. Few are man’s
days under the sun. The time is now, with love.
Shel Olom, no being can ever comprehend the chessed You do for Your creations every moment. I am just one of the
many whom You have treated with an enormous amount of mercy. For this, I am
I want to imitate this midah of
kindliness that you possess, Hashem, to the best of my ability. I want
performance of chessed to be a natural
part of my being, that I do so without even thinking. Not only this, Hashem,
but I want to literally crave doing mitzvos
of this kind.
Master of the World, let me not fall into the trap of judging others
negatively, whether it be my spouse, friend or a stranger. Help me to see only
the good in others. Help me to see the subtle contrasts, not just in black and
white. All Jews are important and there is a spark of holiness in each and every
one of us. Please open my eyes and heart to this.
Thank you, once again Hashem
for encouraging us to love our fellow man. There is nothing in the world more
important to me then to serve You righteously. Even though I am not worthy, You
have treated me with so much love and understanding.
 The Secrets of Hebrew Words p. 105
 Likutey Etzos, Peace 6
 Hayom Yom, p.81
 Rambam, Moreh Nevuchim
 Tomer Devorah 2:7
 Koheles 4:9-10
 Aleph=1, He=5, Vet=2, He=5
 Yod=10 he=5,vav=6 he=5
 The Secrets of Hebrew Words P. 93
 Pirkei Avos 5:19
 Using herbs, animals for food can elevate their being. It is important for kosher animals to be slaughtered according to Jewish traditional laws or it is considered abuse.
 Tomer Devorah Ch.3
 Open your hearts, p.15
 Open your Hearts, p.14
 Avos de R’Noson 23
 Likutey Etzos, Peace 10
 Sipurei Besht
 Open your Hearts p.18
 Consulting the Wise 10:3
 Yevamos 62b
 Leviticus 19:18
 Tomer Devorah 1:4
 Chochmah Umussar, vol 1, p.11
 Kovetz Igros Chazon Ish, vol. 1, 123
 Not Just Stories p. 134
 Ahavas Yisrael, ch. 2 & 4
 Divrei Chassidim
 Shulchan HaTaho
 Chayai Hamussar, Vol. 2, p.38
 Kiddushin 31a
 Shabbos 23b
 Derech Eretz Zuta 5:6
 Tnuas Hamussar, vol. 2, p.45
 Ohr Mamussar, vol. 1, p. 55
 Shabbos 127b
 Tzintzenes Haman, p.138
 Consulting the Wise 11:31
 Rabbeinu Yechiel, The Book of Middos, Peace P.332
 Isaiah 52:7
 Psalms 29:11
 Yerushalmi Berachos 2:4
 The Book of Middos, Peace p.337
 Deuteronomy 3:14