What does the word "Shalom" mean?
In modern Hebrew, the word means “hello,” “goodbye,” and “peace.”
How can it mean a greeting and a farewell, and what do these words have to do with “peace”?
Think of it this way: When you meet someone, can you think of a nicer thing to say than “peace” or to wish them “peace” as they leave?
When we wish one another “peace,” we are expressing the hope that we experience physical, emotional and psychological peace, that we do not experience any disturbance to our bodies, our hearts or our minds.
The Hebrew term “Shalom” gets at that meaning.
The English word for “peace” comes from the Latin root “pax” which also gives us the words “pacific,” “pacifier” and “pacification.”
The root of the Hebrew word “Shalom” means wholeness, completion, wellness, perfection. When we are “at peace” we feel a sense of “wholeness.”
Just as we try to achieve a sense of wholeness as individuals, so we seek a feeling of wellness as groups, a state of “peace.”
“Shalom” begins within ourselves and expands to our friends, our communities, our campuses, our nations, our world.
Shalom is not just about “peace” -- the absence of conflict – it’s about a sense of “wholeness” or “completion.”
What a nice thing to aspire for. What a nice thing to work for.
What a great way to greet people.
This document is available as an Adobe Acrobat file. PDF Shalom Explanation (PDF File 1Mb)
Download a text study on the concept of Shalom as "peace" and "wholeness" prepared by Hillel's Joseph Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Experience.
PDF Shalom Conversation (PDF File 1 Mb)
[Both require Adobe Acrobat Reader version 4.0 or higher.]