Life and Hebrew – Shalom

The Hebrew word ‘Shalom’, שלום is a well-known word.  Most people know this word as a greeting – either ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye’ (because, it is said, many Israelis do not know if they are coming or going), however its basic meaning is ‘completeness’ or ‘wholeness’.  This accounts for the fact that when Israeli soldiers come back unhurt, they come back בשלום, ‘in wholeness’, or, as we would say, ‘safely’.

Similarly, when you ask someone how he or she is feeling, you ask ‘how is your wholeness?’  מה שלומך?.  And again, when you go shopping, since you have deprived the shopkeeper of an article, the shopkeeper is no longer ‘whole’, so that is why the verb ‘shilam’ – which has the same consonants as ‘Shalom’ – is used with the sense ‘to pay’.  After payment the shopkeeper who was dispossessed is restored to a wholesome state. In fact, the word ‘shalom’ itself means ‘a state of no confrontation’, which has come to mean ‘peace’. Not a heavenly idealistic and unattainable peace. But peace that can be attained on a human scale.

Hebrew has many insights into the human state!

From our tbe maven guest, NLC – thanks so much for this lovely contribution!

And let me take this opportunity to wish Rabbi Glass a speedy Refuah shlemah רפואה שלמה, a full recovery, literally a return to ‘wholeness’, from his recent injury.



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