It’s hard to believe our school year is once again coming to a close. Most of our students have already begun our final unit, Shalom. Correct English translations for Shalom are “hello,” “goodbye,” and “peace.” However, looking deeper into the Shoresh (root) of the Hebrew word, its essence is “Shalem,” which means “completeness.”
The Jewish ideal of being at peace is to be compete. It is no accident that we’ve chosen this Jewish value as a great way to end the academic year. It’s reflective of the previous six values as it all ties into our greatest destiny as a people: to repair the world as partners with God and gain a sense of “completeness,” for both all of humanity and for the validation of our individual sense of who we are in this world. The things we do, the actions and mitzvot, are what has paramount importance in this world, not just inward reflection, and yet, it is WHO WE BECOME that ultimately matters in your journey through life.
Rabbi Tarfon used to say, “It is not your responsibility to finish the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” (Pirkei Avot 2:16) Of course our work, this holy work of helping and healing and shining a Light unto the nations of the world, is never finished.
And yet, we keep on trying with all our might. We are instructed to “seek peace and pursue it.” And not just a casual “pursue,” like a hobby. No, the Hebrew word used in Tanach for pursue is rodeph which is like one doing battle or about to commit a murder. This is not a casual pursuit, andits not to do an evil act. But rather its opposite. By pursuing peace with such commitment, we are on a mission, we are focused and our desire is to help create a calmer, more peaceful world. This is a holy act and everyone with a proper Jewish values education knows this truth.
May you all have wonderful summers and pursue peace in all you do. If you are one of our ShalomLearning educators, I look forward to learning together with you over the summer at one of our professional development workshops. And if you are a student in the next academic year, may you live up to your infinite capacities to become aligned with your greatest destiny: complete and total peace within and the creation of better world filled with Shalom.
“All that is written in the Torah was written for the sake of peace.”
-Tanhuma Shoftim 18
Shalom Chaverim- Hello Friends,
We’ve made it to our seventh and final unit for the school year: “Shalom.”
Our last four lessons are all about peace, and there is no finer way to end the semester.
Many of the wisdom traditions see peace consciousness as our true self, where there is nowhere to “get to.” By merely rediscovering our true essence, or rather, our timeless and boundless souls, one is immersed in a state of peace. That is beautiful, and meditation is an incredible way to connect to our “wholeness” or “completeness” which is the root of Shalom.
I could write about the soul all day in my personal passion for the metaphysical, but in search of a deeper connection to the ShalomLearning community, I researched in the physical world. Turns out that there are precisely six “colleges of war” in the United States. I am not a fan of war per se, but I also understand that security is an important value too. Until there is a complete consciousness change of only seeking peace in our world, we certainly need our military. Our brothers and sisters of arms are selfless heroes and they are doing an amazing job at keeping us safe in the United States, Israel, and other countries that value freedom. Thank you to all those that protect us.
But I am also happy to report that there are 40 other colleges that offer programs and degrees in “Peace Studies,” such as in Peace and Conflict Resolution.
And yet Judaism has been doing this for thousands of years: striving for social justice, human rights, ethical behavior, conflict management, etc. Our “degree in peace studies” is simply “living a Jewish life.” As I touched on in the last newsletter, Jewish wisdom helps develop more evolved compassionate and just human beings. And we define Shalom as “helping to create a calmer more peaceful world.”
Shalomlearning graduates understand how their Jewish values help them live meaningful lives. Whether it is creating social change in their mitzvah projects, learning the numerous prayers for peace from our Tefillah program, “Shalom Bayit” (peace in the house), or even just understanding that Shalom is in the root of “Jerusalem” from our Israel Studies integrations – our students get it. They are the next generations of peaceful warriors.. And what an honor and a privilege it has been to study together all year!
I look forward to 5778 and continuing to build a more just and peaceful world together. May you have a wonderful summer and shine the light of peace wherever you are, and most importantly, who you become.