No War ≠ Peace – By Ben


The Hebrew word shalom, שָׁלוֹם, has a few meanings. It can mean hello, goodbye, it’s a popular boy’s name, and it’s even one of the names of G-d.  But the most well known definition of shalom is peace.

When most of us think about peace, we think of it as something passive.  That if certain conflicts in the world or in our lives were to be solved or just went away, the natural state of the world would be peace.  Judaism comes a long and says something very different.

When Judaism talks about peace it is always active.  Oseh shalom (עושה שלום) literally means “make peace.”  Not live and let live, not lay down your arms, not forgive and forget, but to seek out and make peace happen.  To understand this core difference in philosophies one needs to simply look at the root of Shalom – shaleim (שלם) which means whole, complete, or intact.

In order for one to do that, they must have ability to recognize that things that need to be fixed. When one sees what the world is lacking they can then strive to make the world complete.  This requires humility and love.  Humility to see problems not immediate to one’s self and love to understand and care about the pain of others.   It is only though those tools that one can have the awareness to affect themselves, those around them, and eventually the world to restore it to its proper “peaceful” state.


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