Taste of Hebrew title graphic


December

Shalóm! 'hello!', 'good-bye' (literally: 'peace!')
Words get eroded through constant use. May shalom be spared.


Shalom is an ancient Talmudic greeting. In the Bible, it meant 'all is well'. The rabbis taught that it is also a name of God. Throughout the centuries, Jews have greeted each other with shalóm alechém 'peace be upon you'. With the revival of Spoken Hebrew at the beginning of this century, the standard greeting became -- and still is -- ma shlomch‡ and ma shloméch (to men and women, respectively).

It is a cheering thought that Jew and Arab use almost identical greetings, testifying to a linguistic kinship. The Arabic is salemmoo aleekum.


When meeting someone, be the first to say shalom.
The Talmud, section Avot


The Hebrew word for peace, shalom, is derived from a root denoting wholeness or completeness, and its frame of reference throughout Jewish literature is bound up with the notion of shelemut, perfection. Its significance is thus not limited to the political domain -- to the absence of war and enmity -- or to the social -- to the absence of quarrel and strife. It ranges over several spheres and can refer in different contexts to bounteous physical conditions, to a moral value, and, ultimately, to a cosmic principle and divine attribute.
Aviezer Ravitzky (Israeli philosopher)


May the Lord raise His face unto you and give you shalom.
The finale of the Biblical priestly blessing.




By kind permission of Oxford University Press,
publishers of The Joys of Hebrew by Lewis Glinert.



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Last Modified February 12, 2006