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THE MANY FACES OF SHALOM
In this week’s parsha, the word shalom is mentioned several times, and in every instance, we detect a different dimension of the word. “Shalom” means greeting; “shalom” means “peace,” and it also connotes “complete”.
In Genesis 37:4, we find that the brothers of Joseph saw that their father loved Joseph above all, and they hated him and could not speak to him “l’shalom”, which literally translated means “to peace”. Moreover, in this passage, the word shalom is spelled defectively - the letter “vov” is missing. There are many lessons that we can derive from this. If we want to attain peace in our relationships, we have to take steps toward peace, hence “to peace”, and each little step becomes part of the mosaic until completion, total peace is attained, but because the brothers hated, they could not even take those small steps - they could not even greet him.
In its defective state - in gematria (numerology), the word shalom adds up to 400, which is ayn hara - the evil eye. However, when the patriarch Jacob - Yisrael, charges Joseph with looking into the welfare of his brethren, the word used is once again shalom, but this time, the words is spelled fully (Genesis 37:14), teaching us that Jacob instructed Joseph to seek completeness in his brethren and disregard flaws. It’s all in our hands... whether we look at one another with an “evil eye” or we see “wholeness”. Obviously, it’s much easier to see another’s faults, but the challenge is to search for the goodness, for the positive attributes in each person. How we judge others speaks volumes about our own character, so on this Chanukah, let us not only kindle the lights of the menorah in our homes, but let us kindle the lights of love and compassion in or hearts.