Shalom (שָׁלוֹם shalom; also spelled as sholom, sholem, sholoim, shulem) is a Hebrew word meaning peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility and can be used idiomatically to mean both hello and goodbye.
As it does in English, it can refer to either peace between two entities (especially between man and God or between two countries), or to the well-being, welfare or safety of an individual or a group of individuals. The word shalom is also found in many other expressions and names. Its equivalent cognate in Arabic is salaam, sliem in Maltese, Shlama in Syriac-Assyrian and sälam in Ethiopian Semitic languages from the Proto-Semitic root Š-L-M.
In Hebrew, words are built on “roots”, generally of three consonants. When the root consonants appear with various vowels and additional letters, a variety of words, often with some relation in meaning, can be formed from a single root. Thus from the root sh-l-m come the words shalom (“peace, well-being”), hishtalem (“it was worth it”), shulam (“was paid for”), meshulam (“paid for in advance”), mushlam (“perfect”), and shalem (“whole”).
In translations of the Bible, shalom may be translated as peace (English), paz (Spanish and Portuguese), paix (French), pace (Italian), or pax (Latin). The concept of peace is important in Christianity.
Biblically, shalom is seen in reference to the well-being of others (Genesis 43:27, Exodus 4:18), to treaties (I Kings 5:12), and in prayer for the wellbeing of cities or nations (Psalm 122:6, Jeremiah 29:7).
The meaning of completeness, central to the term shalom, can also be confirmed in related terms found in other Semitic languages. The Assyrian term salamu means to be complete, unharmed, paid/atoned. Sulmu, another Assyrian term, means welfare. A closer relation to the idea of shalom as concept and action is seen in the Arabic root salaam, meaning to be safe, secure and forgiven, among other things.
The word “shalom” can be used for all parts of speech; as a noun, adjective, verb, adverb, and interjection. It categorizes all shaloms. The word shalom is used in a variety of expressions and contexts in Hebrew speech and writing:
- Shalom by itself is a very common abbreviation and it is used in Modern Israeli Hebrew as a greeting, to which the common reply is, Shalom, Shalom. It is also used as a farewell. In this way it is similar to the Hawaiian aloha, the English good evening and the Indian namaste. Also in Israel, “bye” (English) and “yallah bye” (a mixture of Arabic and English) is popular.
- Shalom alechem (שָׁלוֹם עֲלֵיכֶם; “well-being be upon you” or “may you be well”), this expression is used to greet others and is a Hebrew equivalent of “hello”. The appropriate response to such a greeting is “upon you be well-being” ( עֲלֵיכֶם שָׁלוֹם, aleichem shalom). This is a cognate of the Arabic Assalamu alaikum. On the eve of Shabbat, Jews have a custom of singing a song which is called Shalom Alechem, before the Kiddush over wine of the Shabbat dinner is recited.
- In the Gospels, Jesus often uses the greeting “Peace be unto you”.
- Shabbat shalom (שַׁבָּת שָׁלוֹם) is a common greeting used on Shabbat. This is most prominent in areas with Mizrahi, Sephardi, or modern Israeli influence. Many Ashkenazi communities in the Jewish diaspora use Yiddish Gut shabbes in preference or interchangeably.
- Ma sh’lom’cha (מַה שְׁלוֹמְךָ; “what is your well-being/peace?”) is a Hebrew equivalent of the English “how are you?”. This is the form addressed to an individual male. The form for addressing an individual female is Ma sh’lomech? For addressing several females, Ma sh’lomchen? For a group of males or a mixed-gender group, Ma sh’lomchem?
- Alav hashalom (עָלָיו הַשָּׁלוֹם; “upon him is peace”) is a phrase used in some Jewish communities, especially Ashkenazi ones, after mentioning the name of a deceased respected individual.
- Oseh shalom is the part of a passage commonly found as a concluding sentence in much Jewish liturgy (including the birkat hamazon, kaddish and personal amidah prayers). The full sentence is עוֹשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם בִּמְרוֹמָיו, הוּא יַעֲשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם עַלֵינוּ, וְעַל כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן (Oseh shalom bimromav, hu ya’aseh shalom aleynu, ve’al kol Yisrael ve’imru amen), which translates to English as “He who makes peace in His heights may He make peace upon us and upon all Israel; and say, Amen.” It originates from Job 25:2.
Jewish religious principle
In Judaism, Shalom (peace), is one of the underlying principles of the Torah: “Her ways are pleasant ways and all her paths are shalom (peace)”. The Talmud explains, “The entire Torah is for the sake of the ways of shalom”. Maimonides comments in his Mishneh Torah: “Great is peace, as the whole Torah was given in order to promote peace in the world, as it is stated, ‘Her ways are pleasant ways and all her paths are peace'”.
In the book Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin, author Cornelius Plantinga described the Old Testament concept of shalom:
The webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight is what the Hebrew prophets call shalom. We call it peace but it means far more than mere peace of mind or a cease-fire between enemies. In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness and delight – a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as its Creator and Savior opens doors and welcomes the creatures in whom he delights. Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be.
Use as name
Name for God
The Talmud says, “the name of God is ‘Peace‘”, therefore, one is not permitted to greet another with the word shalom in places such as a bathroom.
Biblical references lead many Christians to teach that “Shalom” is one of the sacred names of God.
Name for people
Shalom is also common in modern Hebrew in Israel, as a given name or a surname. It is usually used by men as a given name but there are women named Shalom as well such as the model Shalom Harlow.
- The name Shlomo, (from Solomon, שלמה).
- Related male names include Shlomi.
- Related female names include Shulamit, Shulamith, Shlomtzion or Shlomzion and Salome and Shlomith.
- Sholem Aleichem was the pseudonym of Shalom Rabinowitz, whose work Tevye and his Daughters formed the basis for Fiddler on the Roof.
Name of organizations
Shalom can be part of an organization’s name.
For example, the names of the following organizations and places refer to “peace” between Israel and its Arab neighbors:
- Brit Tzedek v’Shalom
- Brit Shalom
- Gush Shalom
- Hevel Shalom
- Neve Shalom
- Shalom Achshav
- Shalom Sesame
Name of synagogues or structures
Shalom is used as part of other names, such as for synagogues, as in:
- Beth Shalom (in various places, whose names begin with “Beth Shalom”)
- Neve Shalom Synagogue in İstanbul, Turkey
- Shalom Park in Charlotte, North Carolina and Denver, Colorado
- Shalom Meir Tower in Tel Aviv, Israel
- Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, California
Name of events
- The 1982 Lebanon War is known in Hebrew as Milchemet Shlom Hagalil (מלחמת שלום הגליל), which means in English, “The War for the Shalom (or Well-Being) of the Galilee”.
- SS Shalom, an ocean liner operated by Zim Lines, Israel 1964–1967.
- Şalom is a Jewish weekly newspaper published in İstanbul, Turkey in Turkish and one page in Ladino (Judaeo-Spanish). (The Turkish letter ş is pronounced /ʃ/, like English sh or Hebrew ש.)
- “Shalom” is a song by Voltaire, on the CD The Devil’s Bris.
- “Shalom” is a song by THePETEBOX.
Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia