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Shabbat Parashat Tazria Metzora 5778

Ein Ayah: Are Swords Nice or Not?

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 6:42-45)

Gemara: One may not go out [on Shabbat] wearing a sword … Rabbi Eliezer said: They are adornments for him. The Rabbis said that these are negative items, as the pasuk says: “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; a nation will not lift up a sword against a nation, neither will they learn war anymore.” (Yeshaya 2:4) They asked Rabbi Eliezer: If they are adornments, why will arms cease to exist in the times of Mashiach? Because they will not be needed. Let them just be an adornment? It is like a candle in sunlight.


Ein Ayah: Bravery is intrinsically an adornment. The power of life is always good, and this is naturally connected to bravery, which comes with purity and straightness. That is the reason that outward signs of bravery are adornments.

Nevertheless, the Rabbis say that even though the intrinsic characteristic of bravery is grand and an adornment for a person, the way it has been used to this point is very ugly. Since most use of arms is for the bad, it displays more human destruction than it shows the grandeur of positive bravery, which is why arms are negative.  

The contrast that exists between nations improves the world and actually gives it more grandeur at times that it is needed. As long as there is contrast there needs to be fear of war, with the sword in the hand creating a balance of strength that prevents war from breaking out. That is the beauty of the sword, as it enables contrast to exist while preserving peace. The goal of the sword is to never be used but just to be an adornment. The power of contrast is to allow each nation to be completed in its unique character, and yet it will not come to be that they shed blood.

At the time of Mashiach, though, the power of contrast will be uprooted, and the proper differences between nations will find expression in a more fully complementary manner, in the way that the individual limbs of the body constitute one full body. At that time, a sword will not be necessary at all because there will not even be a latent force that could spring into war. Only complete peace will be prevalent, and there will be feelings of friendship and respect between the nations, so that arms will no longer have the status of an adornment because they will have no need.

There will indeed be a period of transition in the annals of human history. Previously, there had been world destruction and upheaval, with hatred prevalent and swords used as instruments of bloodshed at the hands of the evil. This will be followed by a period of light, when peace will be secure and a rule of justice will cover the whole world. This is the arrival of the Kingdom of Hashem throughout the world. This is the point of the coming of Mashiach. Contrast between nations will cease to be one that focuses on the individual nation and therefore did not reach its mark of creating a beautiful spectrum of colors. Rather, it will be one united force with everyone being connected as one unit.

There needs to be an interim period in which contrast has not totally ceased, yet its purpose will already be clear in every heart and in every nation and culture. At the time that everyone will respect the uniqueness of every other nation and see the value of their inclinations, they will all know how to reach one united goal – the beauty of the divine kingdom will be felt throughout. Then not only will there not be war in practice, but there will not even be a potential of war. Thus, the sword will no longer serve as an adornment, as it would darken the glow of the special era and would lower its honor like a candle does in the sunlight.
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