May 23rd, 2018

The portion of Nasso contains instructions for the Kohanim (Priests) to bless the nation using the three phrase formula: “May the Lord bless you and watch over you. May the Lord cause His countenance to shine upon you and favor you. May the Lord raise His countenance towards you and grant you shalom.” (Num. 6:24-26)

But what does ‘shalom’ actually mean? The word ‘shalom’, usually translated as ‘peace’, appears frequently in Jewish religious texts as an aspirational ideal. Does aspiring for “shalom” mean that we should avoid conflict at all costs, even if it puts us in danger of being wiped out? And how are we to understand the concept of peace in the heavenly realms (“oseh shalom bimeromav”)?

Rabbi Dunner explains how this seemingly simple aspect of Jewish theology is not at all what we think it is, and the true meaning of “shalom” is the foundation of our faith in God.

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