Eliyahu Hanavi never died and through the centuries he has appeared to people to deliver wisdom and salvation. That’s a fact known to wide-eyed children absorbed as they struggle to keep awake to stare at the kos shel Eliyahu. Far less known is that a woman too embodies many of these characteristics — and also spans the generations.

We first meet this woman in the count of those who descend to Egypt. Serach the daughter of Asher (according to the Ramban in Bamidbar 26:46 she was actually his stepdaughter) is also listed among those who enter the Land. The Yalkut Shimoni notes that years later she appears to Rabi Yochanan to tell him how the waters looked when the sea split having been an eyewitness to the event. The Gemara in Derech Eretz Zuta counts Serach among the rare few who never die entering Gan Eden alive. How did she merit this? What is her strength?


Whole and Faithful

The key to understanding this extraordinary woman is through her own self-description. In Sefer Shmuel II we read the story of the rebellion of Sheva ben Bichri against Dovid Hamelech immediately following the rebellion of Avshalom. Sheva ben Bichri takes refuge in the city of Aveilah Beis Hamaachah and Yoav and his troops surround the city poised to destroy it completely. The Navi tells us that before Yoav begins his conquest a wise woman speaks to him chastising him for not first asking the city if they would surrender as is explicitly stated in the Torah. She then describes herself as one of the shelumei emunei Yisrael one who is whole and faithful in Israel.

The Navi informs us that this “whole faithful” woman saved the entire city from destruction by using her wisdom to convince the city to kill and hand over the rebellious Sheva.

The Midrash records her strategy. First she told the people that Yoav wanted a large number of people from the city. They refused. She offered a lower number which they also refused. After a few more “attempts” she told the residents that Yoav wanted just one man. To this they agreed.

Who is this wise woman not mentioned by name? Chazal identify her as none other than Serach. Indeed the Radak (Shmuel II 20:16) notes that Serach told Yoav that she had heard the law of first asking for peace from Moshe Rabbeinu himself! Yalkut Shimoni ascribes to her the praise in Mishlei: Piha pas’cha b’chochmah a tribute to her brilliance in saving an entire city of Israel.

Serach’s description of herself highlights her traits of loyalty and seeking shalom. On one level as Rashi notes she is part of a city loyal to Dovid Hamelech and seeks to maintain the status quo of peace. On a deeper level it’s in pursuing peace that her strength lies — and it’s in this area that she provides a model for all of us to follow.


Peace Pursuers

In Pirkei Avos we’re enjoined to be the students of Aharon HaKohein to love peace and pursue peace. Rav Tzvi Meir Zilberberg’s Sichos His’chazkus adds a deeper dimension to this directive. He notes that pursuing peace doesn’t just mean to quell argument and pacify those who have been wronged. It is more than that — it is to be a person whose entire self focuses on being in a state of peace and tranquility. To do that we have to work on seeing the good in others and the good in all that transpires. Such a person will not bear a grudge or get angry easily as he knows that all is directed from Above. His sheleimus wholesomeness will radiate to others.

All mothers want to raise their children in an environment of love and peace. But to do so a mother must first work on creating peace inside herself. We know that a person begins preparing to be a parent the moment they are born. Life is a constant laboratory of working on our middos and emunah.

One practical suggestion to restore equanimity is suggested by Rav Shimshon Pincus in his essay describing the virtue of Rochel Imeinu’s ability to be silent. When we feel overwhelmed and are about to lose our cool he suggests that we stop and take a drink of water slowly reciting the brachah of shehakol niheyah bidvaro. Doing so is a tangible reminder that everything is guided from Above and is effective in helping us to restore inner peace.