Blessing for Peace

The Blessing for peace is about peace between people. In this resource, we will discuss the importance of the value of peace.

Resource Ages: 6-8, 9-11


May the One who makes peace on high (in the heavens) , bring peace upon us and all the people Israel, 

[modern addition: And upon all inhabitants of the world]

And we will say: Amen

The Amidah prayer


עוֹשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם בִּמְרוֹמָיו

הוּא יַעֲשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם עָלֵינוּ

וְעַל כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל

[תוספת מודרנית וְעַל כָּל יוֹשְׁבֵי תֵּבֵל]

וְאִמְרוּּ אָמֵן.

מתוך תפילת העמידה

Foundations for Planning

Essential Questions

  • How do beliefs, ethics, or values influence different people’s behavior?
  • How do Jewish practices reflect Jewish values?
  • How is prayer a vehicle to help us access connections to God?

Content Questions Related to the Essential Questions

  • How does this blessing teach us about the importance of peace? 
  • To what extent can the  detailed articulation of values in prayer actually affect a person’s values and actions?
  • How can we increase the impact that expressing values has on human action?

Background for Teacher

The Blessing for peace (Oseh Shalom) appears in a number of places throughout Jewish prayer, including the end of the Amidah, the Kaddish and Birkat Hamazon (blessing after the meal). The words “Who makes peace on high” come from the Book of Job (chapter...

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The Blessing for peace (Oseh Shalom) appears in a number of places throughout Jewish prayer, including the end of the Amidah, the Kaddish and Birkat Hamazon (blessing after the meal).

The words “Who makes peace on high” come from the Book of Job (chapter 25, verse 2), and the continuation of the blessing – “will bring peace upon us” – appears in the writings of Rambam (The Strong Hand, text of the kaddish). 

Commentators understand the blessing as an expression of kal v’chomer (“all the more so”): If peace is so important in the heavens, where it’s not even required because there is no conflict between angels, then “all the more so”  is it important among human beings. Rashi explains that the peace existing in the heavens is peace between conflicting forces of nature, for example fire and water. Other commentators teach that since all forces of nature, including those conflicting with one another, are working for God, there is no war between them. Similarly, there can also be peace between humans who are unified in working towards a common good. 

The author of Kol Hamevaser (“Voice of the Harbinger”) explains that it is specifically the distance between celestial bodies – the sun and the moon –  that brings peace. He goes on to explain that if everyone stays in their own place without taking the place of another, there can also be peace between people. 

The blessing and its interpretations highlight various perceptions of the value of peace and how it might exist among people. The value of peace is central in Judaism – it is important on many levels – from the individual, to the family, to society and the world. As such, the blessing has received much attention in Jewish tradition and Hebrew culture. 

Asking God to make peace between people raises a question related to many prayers: Does the prayer relieve people of responsibility? It can be claimed that there is no contradiction between human action and asking God for help; asking for help may in fact enhance the importance of this value among people, encouraging them to work towards it.

Optional Hooks
In-Depth Discussion
Suggested Activities
Further Study
  • Draw a circle on the board and write the word “peace” inside the circle. Divide the students into pairs and have each pair write down on a piece of paper words that they associate with the word “peace”. They should read the words out loud and then you can write them on the board, as sun rays around the circle. Afterwards, map out different circles of peace: Peace within myself, peace within the family, peace among friends, peace between neighbors, countries, between people and animals, nature, etc.
  • Play different musical compositions of the prayer “Oseh Shalom”, like Nurit Hirsh’s well-known version sung here by a children’s choir  and those by Debbie Friedman and Jeff Klapper, sung here by Bat Ella Birnbaum.

Click here to view our consolidated list of suggested interactive pedagogies for classroom discussion.

  1. “Makes peace on high” – why does there need to be peace in the sky? What celestial bodies might be in need of peace?
  2. The blessing asks for peace between people. Why do you think it mentions that God also makes peace in the sky? 
  3. How do you think God makes peace? 
  4. Do people also play a role in making peace? How do people make peace? 
  5. Older students: Some might say that asking God to make peace relieves people of responsibility. What do you think about that? 
  6. How might a prayer asking God to make peace influence people to work towards peace?  
  7. Give examples of real-life situations in which peace needs to be made. What disrupts peace? What enables peace? 
  8. It’s not enough to pray for peace – we also must create it in ourselves. What characteristics must we strengthen in ourselves in order to behave peacefully with our friends and surroundings?
  9. In recent decades, some people have added the words “and upon all inhabitants of the world” to the traditional prayer, and these words also appear in many siddurim  (prayer books). Why did the writers of these words feel a need to add it to the prayer? What do you think about this addition? What can we learn about prayer in general from the introduction of an addition like this to a prayer in the siddur?
  • In order to understand the importance of peace and its importance to each and every student, show them pictures of different conflict situations (here are some examples). The students should think of a story behind each of the pictures and consider how they think the story might develop from there. Ask them to think of the best possible way the conflict could end. 
  • Ask the students to think of a quarrel they recently experienced and about which they would like closure. Ask them to write a prayer for peace for this specific conflict. The younger students can make peace doves and write their prayers on notes which will then be attached to the dove’s beak. 
  • Tell the following legend about a time in which there wasn’t peace in the sky, and how God made peace between the sun and the moon:

When God created the world, God made the sun and the moon the same size. They were both large and together illuminated the sky, without either being big or small.
The moon came to God and said: “Ruler of the universe, how can it be that the sun and I are the same size and we both illuminate the world? Just as a Sovereign rules alone, there should be only one great illuminator.”
God answered the moon: “Your words are correct. And so, I will make you smaller, and you will become the smaller illuminator.”
The moon immediately was made smaller, and his light became a reflection of the sun’s light.
The moon said to God: “Ruler of the universe, my words were correct, and now I am being punished and forced to be smaller than the sun?”
God comforted the moon: “If this is so, I will compensate you for your small size, and your light will illuminate both day and night.”

(According to the Babylonian Talmud, tractate cholin, daf samech, page 2)

– You can use the legend to further discuss peace between people: What are different factors motivating peace and what are the various ways it can be achieved?

  • Teach the Prayer for the Peace of Israel . Discuss the differences between praying for peace in Israel and the blessing of Oseh Shalom. Are both prayers necessary? Why?
  • Read a midrash about Aaron the Priest which depicts him as a person who chases peace and loves peace (rodef shalom v’ohev shalom):

There were two men who had quarreled with each other. Aaron went and sat with one of them and said: “My son, look! Your friend is very upset and is tearing out his hair, saying: ‘Woe is me, how will I look upon my friend? For it is I who have sinned against him.’” Aaron sat with him until he had removed all jealousy from his heart. He then went to the other friend and told him the same thing that he had said to the first. And when the two friends met again, they hugged and kissed each other.

(Midrash Avot D’Rabbi Natan, chapter 12, sermon 3)

Discuss: In the story, Aaron tells a white lie to make peace. Do you think this was the right thing to do? What characteristics are necessary for a person who mediates peace between quarreling individuals? Ask the students to tell about situations in which they mediated between two conflicting parties. They can also dramatize situations of conflict and mediation.

  • For older students who have learned the story of David and Goliath: Show them the Leviim Choir’s video clip for the song Oseh Shalom. The video paraphrases the David and Goliath story but presents a different ending from the biblical story. Goliath is a Philistine and therefore symbolizes the Philistines, the enemies of Israel in the Book of Samuel. The video suggests another way to approach the current Jewish-Palestinian conflict in Israel. Ask: What biblical story inspired the clip? How would you expect the encounter between these two characters to end? What do you think the creators of the clip hoped to say about peace through their clip? The video alludes to the Jewish-Palestinian conflict in Israel: What position is presented in this context? Do you think a prayer about peace can bring quarreling nations together? What effect can it have?