Rabbi David Zaslow
to popular opinion the Hebrew word "shalom" does
not mean "peace," at least not in the English sense
of the word. It comes from a Hebrew root-word that means "wholeness."
And what is wholeness? In the Hebraic way of thinking wholeness
is the joining together of opposites. That's why we say "shalom"
when we greet friends and when we are wish them farewell.
In the most opposite of situations (coming and going) we use
the same word, "shalom." There is a hidden connection
to all our comings and goings; they are wondrously linked
together. When I come from somewhere I am going to some place
else. When I realize this I feel "wholeness," and
that is the source of peace the knowledge that all
my opposing energies are somehow linked and part of a single
whole. True peace must have wholeness as its foundation.
I am a political left winger I am only flying with one wing.
If I am a political right winger I am only flying with one
wing, yet it takes two wings for an eagle to fly. It takes
the integration of two opposing positions for there to be
real "shalom." The word dialogue comes from the
Greek "dia + logos" meaning "across words"
or "speech that goes back and forth." Its
easy to have a left wing or a right wing peace rally
with people we already agree with, but this is not the wholeness
that is implied in the word shalom.
what is the Hebraic view of shalom? Shalom brings the binary
mind together, integrating the left brain modality of thinking
(linear, logical, and rational) and the right brain modality
(spiritual, intuitive, and creative). Shalom brings people
together who disagree with each other in order to listen deeply
to the other side. It is the people you do not
agree with who have the greatest gift for you the gift
of the potential for wholeness.
peace movement I belong to is not liberal or conservative,
it is both liberal and conservative. It is not left wing or
right wing; it flies with two wings. It is not religious vs.
secular, rather it integrates the genius of both science and
spirituality. The peace movement I belong to refuses to create
an "other" out of the people with whom I may disagree
on a particular issue. To the contrary, the peace movement
I belong to is one of deep dialogue: tough dialogue, heart
wrenching dialogue, gentle dialogue, but always dialogue
speech that goes back and forth with each side constantly
challenging, refining, and purifying the other
until we recognize that the other is none other
than a reflection of our own selves.
Shlomo Carlebach taught, The Baal Shem teaches that
when people are happy they clap their hands. This is because
joy is spreading throughout the entire body. But do you know
what it is that I'm really doing when Im clapping? A
person is bringing the left and right to love each other.
Let me explain. The right usually tells the left Listen,
you know you're a leftist. I don't want to have anything to
do with you. And the left (hand) says to the right,
Who needs you? You're so boring. You're always doing
something good. Who needs you and your mitzvot. I have no
strength for you. So the right doesn't speak to the
left and left doesn't speak to the right. But when clapping
hands, the left comes close to the right and says, Hey,
you're precious after all. And the left says to the
right: I love you. So let's sing and pray that
the Holy One stirs the eyes of our people so that we recognize
that we are only one, a holy and sanctified nation. Then well
all see there really is no right or left, but just the music;
music and the dance.
G-ds blessings flow upon all my brothers and sisters
who are part of this unnamed and unnameable movement, wave,
energy, and heavenly blessing that comes from G-d, the true
Source of Shalom. In Jewish liturgy we celebrate G-d as the
former of light and Creator of darkness, Maker of peace,
and Creator of the whole. Created in that image, may
this wholeness manifest in our lives and within the world.