In Shul School yesterday we focused on Shalom. As we do every week, we began by saying hello. “Shalom Chaverim!” we all said to each other as we settled into our Zoom spaces. Shalom is a way to greet others.
We all brought a Shalom object to share. We talked about the importance of having something that brings us a sense of calm when we are stressed, when things are uncertain, when there is a lot of tension all around us. We acknowledged that we are in such a time, and could all benefit from sharing “Shalom Vibes” with each other.
We studied all the sounds that make up this important word. Then, we made Shalom book marks and door knob signs. How important and how cool will it be to see that word whenever we enter a room, or are reading our current book?!?
We ended by again saying “Shalom Chaverim,” wishing our friends peace as we departed. Shalom is a way to say goodbye.
Shalom is a complex word. While it does mean all the things we talked about in Shul School (hello, goodbye, peace), it is much deeper than that. The word Shalom comes from a root meaning wholeness or completeness. This is different from our oftentimes simplistic understanding of peace which conjures up images of universal happiness, total loving agreement, and a complete absence of conflict. Shalom is that, and it's more than that.
Shalom implies an inclusivity that leaves nothing out. While bringing disparate and opposite things together to make a unified whole often feels anything but “peaceful,” Shalom invites us into the mystery of paradox. What do we do when we get there?
Can we step back and be okay with things not always fitting perfectly? Can we let go of the idea that peace means only comfort and ease? Can we welcome the discomfort that authentic Shalom might bring? Because we might not get our way. We might need to challenge our assumptions. We might not completely understand a situation. Can we be okay with that?
May we enter into Shalom together and create a sense of wholeness that holds us all.