A symbolon was a means of identification in the ancient world. If I send someone I know off to another city to meet up with another person I know, I give each of them half of a plate or bowl or stone. When they meet each can identify the other by fitting the pieces together.
In our lives we sometimes have the sense of symbolon with another person. This is the piece that fits and completes a part of myself that was jagged and unfinished. Not only people can be symbolons: our sense of God can complete us, or even a sense of a task or life work.
Finally, the very process of growing can fill in parts that we were missing. “Youth shows but half,” as the poet Browning reminded us. The world carries — in the eyes of others, in its very wonders, in its frustrations and beauties — the second half of our hearts. We walk through life carrying a symbolon and seeking completion. Keep fitting the parts to the passing days and you will find shleimut, wholeness, and peace.
Rabbi David Wolpe is spiritual leader of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. Follow his teachings atwww.facebook.com/RabbiWolpe.
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