When I was growing up in my father’s synagogue, on every Shabbat evening service after the final song, Ein Keloheynu, my father of blessed memory would read aloud a strangely worded paragraph. It was in smaller type so I was sure, in my childish way, that he was mistaken and it should be read silently. Although I never said anything to him about it, it always felt out of place and I did quite get the point.
Today I realized that this paragraph is the conclusion of the Tractate Berachot. It was my first experience hearing the language and logic of the Talmud – which is perhaps way it always felt a bit familiar. And the concluding sentence is the way I conclude just about every service I lead – an unconscious nod to the memory of my father, Rabbi Moshe Cahana (z”l). From now on it will be conscious.
I can hear his voice as I read these words.
Rabbi Eleazar quoted Rabbi Hanina who said: Scholars increase peace in the world, as it is written in Scripture: ‘When all they children shall be taught of the Lord, great shall be the peace of thy children.’ Read not baw-na-yih, ‘thy children,’ but bo-no-yih, ‘thy builders.’ Great peace have they that love Thy Torah; and there is no stumbling for them. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. For the sake of my brethren and friends, I would say, Peace be with thee! For the sake of the house of the Lord our G-d, I would seek thy good. The Lord will give strength unto His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace.
(From the Silverman Siddur [Rabbinical Assembly of America, 1946] p. 157, quoting Berachot 64a.)