“May there be peace within your walls
and security within your citadels.” — Psalm 122:7
Shalom, peace, is a word so interconnected with the Jewish faith that it has become almost a symbol of Judaism. But what is the true meaning of peace, shalom? This is one of six devotions exploring the deeper meaning of what it means to bring peace into your home, your relationships, and yes, the world.
Hollywood has set the bar very high when it comes to “happily ever after.” We grow up on unrealistic notions of what marriage is like and how all that follows is meant to be. Even if we know in our heads that this is a false reality, it’s an idea we still grasp at with our hearts. Truth is, our spouses and children will not be perfect all the time. We won’t be perfect all the time. No one is.
While “happily ever after” is a myth that doesn’t mean that we can’t have shalom in our homes. It is essential, but we must be willing to work for it.
Aaron, the first High Priest of Israel, was second only to Moses in terms of authority among the Israelites. Yet, even Aaron was permitted to do things that even Moses could not do. As the High Priest, only he could enter the Holy of Holies and perform certain rituals that no one else was allowed to do.
And what was this most holy man involved with on a daily basis? Instead of ruling above the people, he was among them, establishing peace between them.
Among all the Bible men and women, Aaron was known for his “peace-making.” He constantly went between husbands and wives, working to restore peace in struggling relationships. In fact, many children were named for Aaron during the time that he lived as it was only because of his efforts that these children came to be!
Aaron understood that peace, especially in the home, was of utmost importance and so this was the holy work that he chose to be busy with.
We often overlook the importance of peace in our homes or with our family and friends. We think we can get by without it. However, as Aaron understood, it is only when we can have peace in our homes that we can hope to have peace within ourselves and in our world.
Children model what they see, and if they see a home of peace, it is far more likely that they will treat others with the same kindness, forgiveness, and respect that they grew up with. Ultimately, if we cannot overcome our differences with those we love, how can we possibly come to terms with those we have far less of a connection to? Our homes can be a wellspring of peace in the world, or God forbid, contribute to the disharmony that is all too prevalent.
Moreover, once we understand the full meaning of shalom, we can appreciate that when there is shalom in the home, family members aren’t just tolerated; they are appreciated. The focus becomes on what is good about each person and how he or she completes the family, rather than on what is lacking. The same is true in our relationships with friends and even strangers. Eventually when we focus on the good in others, we will bring out the good in them – and that is something from which we can all benefit.
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