Monday, September 30, 2013

Rabbi Mel Glazer on SHALOM

This past week I had the great pleasure of having lunch with my friend Rabbi Mel Glazer, leader of the Temple Shalom Synagogue here in Colorado Springs.  Actually Mel is quite a name in rabbinic circles as he was once the lead rabbi at the Synagogue in Princeton, New Jersey - the synagogue that Albert Einstein attended (that is, when Einstein's studies weren't leading him into the minutia of the Unified Theory of The Universe at the Advanced Institute).  Also Mel is a leader in grief specialization and recovery.  He's quite a man!

My question for Mel Glazer, however, was not about particle physics, but about the word - Shalom.  "What is Shalom?" I asked Mel?  "Why did you name your synagogue in Colorado Springs Shalom - Shalom Temple?  Why does every self respecting Jewish person in Israel greet one another on the street with the words, "Ma Shalom Cha," (for men), and "Ma Shalom Eck" (for women).  Why does the apostle Paul begin nearly every one of his letters with "Grace and SHALOM," and why does he end nearly all of his letters with, "Grace and SHLAOM."  What is Shalom?"

"Shalom," said Mel Glazer, "is related to the Jewish/Hebrew word SHALAME..."

"Wonderful!" I said..."What is SHALAME?"

"Shalame," said Mel, "is the Hebrew word for completion, completeness, wholeness, perfection."  When God created the heavens and the earth, God said, "SHALOM," "It is complete."  "Completeness is only found in our lives when we are connected with God, and when that connection is demonstrated in our every day lives with each other."

I have been thinking about the notion of completeness, perfection, wholeness, completion ever since.  "Am I a complete person?" I have wondered.  The short answer is absolutely not.  I am so far from complete, I daresay, I am incomplete.  I am half-made in so many ways.  I am not-there.  I have missed the mark of perfection, completeness or completion.  I am not done being the person I feel God wants me to be.  I am not finished trying to grow into what I think God needs me to be.  I have a long way to go in my life before I am a true person of SHALOM.

Then, why, I have wondered, is SHALOM a greeting in Jerusalem?  Why is SHALOM an affirmation that Paul gives us again and again.  Why is SHALOM held up all the time as something we should strive for, even as all of us are so far away from completion, completeness, perfection, and wholeness?

As I have contemplated this question, I have thought about Jesus Christ.  Jesus, in essence, is SHALOM.  Jesus is completion itself.  Jesus is perfection and healing and wholeness.  We must strive for SHALOM, but not as a result of anything that we might do, or attempt, but only through God - through Christ.

Shalom, Paul tells us, is the result of Rejoicing, Gentleness, God's Nearness, and Thankfulness. I think about the recipe for Shalom (or mathematical formula, since we are tracking Einstein at the moment):

R + G + GN + T = Peace (SHALOM).

And Paul goes on to tell us that when we have these four things, we will be blessed with the; "Peace (SHALOM) that passes all understanding that guards our hearts in Christ Jesus." (Phil 4:4-9)

Christ is our SHALOM
Jesus is our PEACE

So, SHALOM to you!
SHALOM to me!

All for Now,

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