Rabbi David D. Schonblum
In a world of global imaging, conferencing, and texting we can often feel a split, a sever or even disconnection. We check our technology, and sometimes we even blame the service provider or technician, for our technology not working properly. If we think about it for a moment; it is all about “being connected.”
We know that the Hebrew word “Shalom” means “peace”, but we may not know, that it comes from the root “Shalem”, meaning whole or united. We must be united, connected to one another, to find peace, make peace, or even pursue peace in our lives. We must reach out to others’ needs and listen more to their stories, rather than only talking about our own problems. We must stretch ourselves a little bit more for the other person in his/her struggle or time of suffering or anguish.
In our busy and unrestrained world, we need to connect with others, especially in our family, and our community, in order to make our surroundings and our behaviors more “peaceful”. As Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson zt”l teaches this idea, through a Kabbalistic lens in his book, ‘Toward a Meaningful Life,’ and I quote, “And yet this is precisely what G-d wants: that our ‘dark’ and ‘lowly’ world obscure its connection to the divine, so that man, out of his/her own free will, would choose to peel back the successive layers of the container to reveal the light. And to facilitate that process, G-d created different steps along the way, a ladder by which man can climb ever upward and unite with his/her Creator.
A man visited a rabbi to complain how difficult his life was, with problems at home and work. He said that no matter how hard he tried to work out these problems, he made no progress. The rabbi suggested that the Biblical verse about Jacob’s dream would provide an answer. He explained, ‘Jacob dreamed that a ladder was standing upon the ground and its top reached up toward heaven. G-d’s angels were ascending and descending on it. Suddenly, Jacob saw G-d standing over him… and G-d said, ‘I am with you.’ (Genesis 28:12, 13, 15). The rabbi paused and looked at the man. “Why were the angels first going upward and then downward, when angels come from heaven? he asked. ‘Because a person must first build a ladder climbing upward from his/her material life toward spirituality. Then his/her actions sanctify his/her entire life, creating ‘angels’ that climb upward. And when they return downward, G-d will appear with them and respond to your prayers.” (adapted by Rabbi Simon Jacobson, Chapter 26 on “Unity” page 242, Wm. Morrow & Co. Inc. NY)
May G-d accept our prayers for those who are suffering, by keeping this idea in our thoughts, minds and actions, as we too, make a “peaceful” connection with someone in our lives!