The One Whose Name is Shalom
“Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peaceful.” (Proverbs 3:17)
דרכיה דרכי נעם וכל נתיבותיה שלום.
“God will grant strength to His people; God will bless His people with peace.” (Psalms 29:11)
יהוה עז לעמו יתן יהוה יברך את עמו בשלום.
Shalom, Hebrew for “peace,” is so central to Biblical values that the sages teach Shalom is one of God’s names. In Jewish thought, peace is not merely the absence of war, but rather a harmonious integration of different perspectives and attitudes, in which each view finds its place and is properly appreciated as part of a greater whole. For this reason, shalom is derived from the Hebrew word shalem, meaning “whole.”
“Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peaceful” (Proverbs 3:17). Every commandment, teaching and detail of the Bible is dedicated to bringing true peace to the world. As the sages say, “God has not found a vessel which contains blessing for Israel but peace.” Only when and where there is peace can God’s blessings truly manifest.
When the Temple stood in Jerusalem, the priests blessed the nation every day with the priestly blessing (Numbers 6:24-26). The last of these blessings states “May God bestow favor upon you and grant you peace!” Every Friday night at the Shabbat dinner table, Jewish parents use these very same verses to bless their children. The loftiest blessing we can bestow upon our children is peace.
“God will grant strength to His people; God will bless His people with peace” (Psalms 29:11). God’s goal is to bestow peace upon His chosen people, but the path to peace is neither simple nor easy.
When confronted with external enemies, the people of Israel must possess and wield strength until its enemies are subdued. This is the goal of the Israel Defense Forces, whose mission is “to preserve the State of Israel, to protect its independence, and to foil attempts by its enemies to disrupt the normal life within it.”
With strength we can achieve peace.