Shalom is the key to putting the fragmented puzzle pieces of this world together again. The Torah tells us to actively pursue peace because it completes everything including our own piece of the puzzle. A Jew’s purpose is to be mashlim (to make whole) everything he encounters. If you are about to eat a pear, say the bracha with kavanah. If you meet someone you don’t know, realize that Hashem engineered the meeting. Get acquainted with the person. In this way you will be fitting the puzzle pieces of you and him together.
The deeper we feel that there is a lack, the more intuitively we try to fill it. The more aware we are of our incompletion, the more we will proactively pursue wholeness. Pursuing peace means giving of ourselves to others in a generous and unstinting way, so they become a part of us. Shalom requires us to look for opportunities to give of ourselves so that we can make wholeness happen. Say hello to the woman in line after you at the supermarket. Treat people who serve you with respect and dignity. Express appreciation and be generous with praise and compliments.
People are naturally drawn to completion and closure. This explains the insatiable desire people have to vicariously experience the resolution of life-struggles through literature, drama, and film. We enjoy the experience of closure when everything finally comes together at the end. Similarly, when we plant a seed, it develops and grows and only rests when it is fully complete. So too there’s a growth impulse inside each of us which says, “Complete yourself.”
Shalom has unifying power. If a person doesn’t return someone’s shalom greeting, he’s robbed the other person of the opportunity to feel whole and connected with him. To become part of a greater whole we have to pursue peace. However we cannot be everyone’s best friend, nor is it necessarily a desirable goal. Friends influence us greatly and we need to be selective. There’s a difference between offering something of yourself to someone and sharing your intimate secrets. You can be discerning, yet kind and giving. When each piece of the puzzle maintains its own integrity, the puzzle is complete.
Doing chesed-tapping in to our Elokut so that it pours forth to others, is the idealized way to make peace. Pursuing shalom means wanting to make everyone more whole, by giving of ourselves. It does not mean acknowledging our integrity and the other person’s integrity to the point of having no borders. There are times to give freely, times to withdraw, and times to leave things as they are.
May we reach perfect sheleimut in our quest to become true lovers of peace.