The Ultimate Destination
שָׁלֵם: complete, whole
לָכֵן אֱמֹר הִנְנִי נֹתֵן לוֹ אֶת בְּרִיתִי שָׁלוֹם
Therefore say, “Behold, I am giving to him my covenant of peace.”
If one is living life correctly and is full of life, then life is a continuous movement, and apart from Shabbos there is no let-up. Deep down, we are all craving שָׁלוֹם, a place where we can just be at rest, free from the burden of life.
This craving is so universal that it is reflected in our prayers. The culmination of our eighteen-brachah tefillah finishes with the brachah for peace. So too bentching, Birkas Kohanim, and Kaddish all finish off with the request for peace; גָדוֹל הַשָׁלוֹם שֶׁהוּא חוֹתֶם כָּל הַבְּרָכוֹת/how great is peace in that it concludes all brachos.
In Parshas Bechukosai, Hashem promises us that if we go in His ways, then He will give us rain in its time, the field will yield its produce, we will eat and be satisfied, and He will give us peace in our land. Rashi in his commentary to this pasuk says אִם אֵין שָׁלוֹם אֵיו כּלוּם/if there is no peace, you have nothing, meaning that you may have all the riches in the world — good food, a nice house, and all that money can buy — but if you don’t have שָׁלוֹם, then it’s worth nothing.
I once asked my rabbi why we are asking for peace when the whole point of life is to do battle with our yetzer hara. He answered by saying that we are asking Hashem to bring close the time when we don’t have to fight anymore, the time when we have proven ourselves worthy victors, the time when we can just be with Hashem in a state of peace. When someone is about to depart from this world, we say לֵך לְשָׁלוֹם/go in peace, and since שָׁלוֹם is one of Hashem’s names, we are really telling the person to go to Hashem, the ultimate peace.
This is one of the reasons why in Parshas Pinchas the letter vav in the word שָׁלוֹם is broken, because shalom cannot be truly achieved in this world. Only in a world where Hashem is echad and His name is echad, in a world where Eliyahu HaNavi, the reincarnate of Pinchas, comes to inform us that the time has come for there to be real peace in the world. A time when the hearts of the sons will be returned to their fathers and the hearts of the fathers will return to their sons. A time when the wolf will lie down with the lamb, when there will be no more need for war.
שָׁלֵם: Complete, Whole
As long as there is Amalek in the world, the name of Hashem is incomplete. When we are uncertain if Hashem is in our lives, then we ourselves are incomplete. Shalom, as we have said, is one of Hashem’s names, so when we wish someone shalomaleichem, we are in fact wishing that Hashem be with them. This is the real shleimus, seeing that Hashem is intimately involved with our lives. Eradicating the Amalek within us leads us to this goal of shleimus.
A sure way to know if we have achieved this lofty goal of shleimus is whether the flies bother us or not. We see this with the prophet Elisha, whom the Shunamite woman recognized as a holy man because she never saw any flies around his table..
The תּורָה שֶבַּעַל פֶּה/Oral Torah ends with the following quote from Rabi Shimon ben Chalaftah:
אָמַר רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן חֲלַפְתָּא, לֹא מָצָא הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא כְּלִי מַחֲזִיק בְּרָכָה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל אֶלָּא הַשָּׁלוֹם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, ה’ עֹז לְעַמּוֹ יִתֵּן ה’ יְבָרֵךְ אֶת עַמּוֹ בַשָּׁלוֹם
Hashem was not able to find a kli/vessel that was able to contain brachah for Yisrael except shalom, as it says, “Hashem gives strength to his people, Hashem will bless His people with shalom.”
The reason we go to great tzaddikim for brachos is because in order to give brachah, one first has to be complete; הַשְׁלֵימוּת מְקַבֵּל בְּרָכָה/ one’s cup has to be full and then overflowing, because brachah is the extra outpouring and goodness, which can only be reached if one has first rid himself of all his lackings. Rashi says that when Moshe gave semichah to Yehoshua, he was כְּכְּלִי מָלֵא וּגָדוֹש/like a vessel full and heaped.
Payments are called תַּשׁלוּמִים because with each payment we are completing the goal of paying off the entirety of our debt. Each one of us in a way is indebted to Hashem. He has loaned us the gift of life, and we have a lifetime to pay back the loan. Each year on Rosh Hashanah, we are checked to see if we are proceeding with the loan payments on time or if we need to make some adjustments. Are we paying our way through life? Are our fields producing a good yield in order to pay off the field owner? If not, there is a good chance that the field owner will repossess the field and the payment will be left incomplete. It is up to us. Life is compared to a period of engagement, called אֵירוּסִין, and we are the אָרִיס/the one who works the field. If we produce a good enough yield year in and year out, then the field owner will give us part ownership in the land, we will have an eternal נַחַלָה/inheritance in the land, become worthy to be Hashem’s bride, and we will graduate from אֵרוּסִין to נְשׂוּאִין/ engagement to marriage. No longer an אָרִיס, we become a נָשׁוּי.
כִּי שְׁלֹמֹה יִהְיֶה שְׁמוֹ וְשָׁלוֹם וָשֶׁקֶט אֶתֵּן עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּיָמָיו
That Shlomo will be his name, and peace and quiet I will give upon Israel in his days.
Not only was Shlomo HaMelech so called because there was peace in his time, but also because he completed the building of the Beis HaMikdash.
David HaMelech made great preparations for the building of the Beis HaMikdash, yet it was his son Shlomo who completed it. David told Shlomo that he had wanted to build the Beis HaMikdash, but Hashem had told him that due to having shed so much blood in his lifetime fighting all his enemies, it would be inappropriate to have the Beis HaMikdash built by his hands. Rather, Hashem told him that a son would be born to him, a man of rest who would be granted rest from his enemies, and Shlomo will be his name, and He will give peace and tranquillity upon Israel in his days.
The Beis HaMikdash marks the central place in the world where heaven and earth join together, the place Hashem calls הַמָקוֹם/“The Place.” It is the foundation stone from where everything spread forth; “The Place” of the adamah from which Adam was created; “The Place” where the very first korban/sacrifice was offered up by Adam HaRishon; “The Place” where we offer up our korbanos, offerings of shlamim that bring peace to the world and bring us to our own individual shleimus.
This is why all the eyes of the world are focused on Yerushalayim, because it is the center of the Universe. It is the hot spot, and everybody wants a piece of the action.
The first time the root שלם is mentioned in the Torah is in connection with Yerushalayim, the city of peace. Yerushalayim comes from the words yireh shalom, meaning “from where peace will be seen,” i.e., where Hashem will be seen. We are all fighting for Yerushalayim, because whoever holds Yerushalayim holds the key to peace.
In a strange way, then, we are all fighting for peace. Peace can only be achieved through struggle, because only something worth fighting for and dying for is something worth having.
וְכָל נְתִיבוֹתֶיהָ שָׁלוֹם/all of its paths are peace. The only way to true peace is through the Torah. All its ways lead to peace, which leads us to your door, Hashem, who is peace — מֶלֶך שֶׁהַשָׂלוֹם שֶׁלוֹ.
Peace is the ultimate destination.
1 Bamidbar 25:12.
2 Kli Yakar on ibid., 7:12.
3 Vayikra 26:6.
4 See Pirkei D’Rebbe Eliezer 29.
5 Brachos 10b.
6 Uktzin 3:12.
7 Divrei HaYamim 1:22:9.
8 Bereishis 14:18; מַלְכֵי צֶדֶק מֶלֶך שָלֵם, referring to Shem ben Noach, the king of Yerushalayim.
9 Mishlei 3:17.