If you will go in My statutes and observe My commandments and perform them; then I will provide your rains in their time, and the land will give its produce and the tree of the field will yield its fruit. Threshing will overtake the vintage for you, and the vintage will last until the sowing; you will eat your bread to satiety and you will dwell securely in your land. And I will provide peace in the land… (Vayikra 26:3-6)
I will provide peace: You might say, “Here is food and here is drink! (and peace is just another blessing) (However) If there is no peace there is nothing! The verse says after all this (material blessing of plenty) “I will provide peace in the land…”. From here we see that peace is as weighty as everything… (Rashi)
Why is peace a heavenly provision? Isn’t it just a psychological state of mind? What then is the gift of “Shalom”? Our sages tell us that HASHEM found no greater vessel for containing blessings other than “Shalom”. What does it mean that peace is a vessel and how is equal to all the other blessings?
Years back an Israeli friend Yossi had organized for me a number of speaking engagements. He was also the driver, designated to get me to these events. One frigid night as we started our long journey to deep into the heart of Long Island, I happened to notice that we were extremely low on gas. I let Yossi know but he dismissed my concerns telling me that we’d be ok. Somehow, miraculously we made it to the class without incident. Even more amazingly though we made it almost all the way home as well. I nudged Yossi numerous times to stop for gas but he insisted that we wait to fill up in New Jersey where the price of a gallon of gas is always a little bit cheaper than New York.
We just crossed over the George Washington Bridge and entered New Jersey and lo and behold we spotted a gas station. There was a sign indicating no u turn so Yossi made the u turn and we pulled in the gas station at about 1: AM.
Since in New Jersey it is illegal to pump your own gas the attendant was forced out of the warm of his tiny booth. There striding to our car was a dark African immigrant with a wool cap pulled down almost covering his eyes. He seemed weary and annoyed by the extreme cold as he approached our car. At this point I told Yossi, “Watch, I’m gonna make his night!” Yossi cautioned me with a sense of alarm, “Don’t tip’m! We came here to save a few bucks!” I assured him I had nothing like that in mind but maybe something better. I was going to add a little warmth of humanity into what is otherwise a pretty clinical relationship.
I then picked up the two empty Snapple bottles we had been drinking from and stepping out from the car I approached the gas station attendant and asked him, “Do you recycle these or do they go here in the garbage can?” He mumbled, “They all go to the same place!” (That was my queue!) I said to him, “Everything comes from the same place and everything goes to the same place!” He nodded in agreement signaling to me that he understood some of the depth of what I had said, so I continued, “We all come from one place and we all go to one place! We all come from G-d and we all go back to G-d!” Now he was really listening deeply and so I took license to explain a little further. “If you understand that, then even if you have nothing, you have everything. If you have everything else, and you don’t have that then you have nothing!” At this point Yossi was urging him to fill it up with regular but I felt I had filled him and myself up with something super.
Shalom is one of the names of G-d! It comes from a place of supernal awareness of that reality. It’s not an additional blessing. It is the key to all the other blessings. If you have it, even if you have nothing else, you have everything. If you lack it, even if you have all else you have nothing. Shalom is the best vessel to hold all the good things in life. In truth the greatest gift that you can give someone is to show them what they already have! So it is that Shalom is the gift of all gifts. DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.