In The Footsteps Of Our Farthers | Perek 1 Mishna 13

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“Sholom”, a favoured greeting when answering the phone amongst many hiemisha Yidden. It has a certain warmth to it, a sense of belonging. I can’t remember when it came into vogue, but I love using it as much as possible. It seems to create a bound with whomever I am talking to. ‘Sholom’ in and of itself is a complicated word. To some it denotes the absence of strife or machlokas.

The Nesivos Sholom Z tl tells us it is so much more.

“Actually, there is a lot more to sholom than a mere absence of machlokas. This we see from a passage that we find at numerous places in our daily prayers, ‘oseh sholom bimromav’ ‘He makes peace in His Heights’ (Iyov 25:2). What need is there for peace making in Shomayim? Malochim don’t squabble! It must be then, that the concept of Sholom contains a real, and positive element, of a most pristine and elevated nature.”

The Rebbe goes on to explain that peace goes well beyond simply enhancing our relationships with those around us. Real sholom enables a person to strengthen his relationship with Hashem as well, drawing himself closer to Kaveyuchal Der Eibishter.

In Pirkei Avos we are taught, “Hillel says: Be of the disciples of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving your fellow men, and drawing them near to the Torah.” (1:12)

The wording is unique, if not a tad strident, instead of just saying, ‘Love peace and pursue peace’ the Mishnah starts with, ‘Be amongst the disciples of Aaron.’  This takes on a sense of a command.  Perhaps this directive is to bring us to an understanding of what sholom or peace is and how to find it.

To live in peace with others, one must look to the actions of Aaron who was the master of making peace amongst the Yieden. He would see strife between people and visit each one of the combatants at home, speak to that person’s unique needs and challenges and thereby allow him to come to terms with others. Sholom is paramount for a true Torah life. The key to Aaron’s peacemaking was his willingness to humble himself to the level of those he was reaching out to. By forming a bond without preconditions, he became beloved to the entire nation. His sholom was more than just a lack of hostilities, it was a construct on its own of caring for one another despite different challenges and outlooks.

The Yismach Yisroel of Alexander Ztl tells us that a good way to draw closer to Hashem, is to love other Yieden, as the Torah tells us, ‘love your friend as yourself, I am Hashem,’ By loving and putting your own needs aside for the other, you can come closer to Hashem. This because as long as a person is enthralled in his own selfishness and he is arrogant, there is no way he can become attached to kaveyuchal the Eibishter, however once he learns to share with others, respecting their needs and wants, and he bows to their needs before his own, he can realise true attachment to Hashem. The word for love in Hebrew is ahahah, in which the root is ‘hav’ to give. Ahavas Yisroel is about giving from one’s self and being ‘mevatah’ of your own kovod.

Guta Yieden were experts in this special midday, and ran from machlokas and pirud (separation). I saw this middoh played out in so many ways by so many holy Tzadikim. The Pnai Menachem spoke constantly about the need for us to have an Ayin Tov, (a good eye). With this he meant, we must look favourably on one another, not seeking fault nor extolling the good inherent in each individual. This is what Aaron Hakohen brought to us, and it is with this approach that we can build true Sholom.

Sholom Reb Yied, ahhh the sweetest greeting one can give, so let’s try it, and live it.