Shalom שָׁלוֹם is a Hebrew word meaning peace, hello, goodbye and wellbeing. 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. It is also used as a greeting to either say hello or farewell, and is found in many other expressions and names. Its equivalent cognate in Arabic is salaam and sälam in Ethiopian Semitic languages.
The word shalom was derived from the name of the early Canaanite god Shalim, associated with early twilight (and hence the evening star). Shalim presided over peace. These attributes were later adapted into Roman Venus. Through this association, the Hebrew root shin-lamed-mem (ש.ל.ם), which has cognates in many Semitic languages, came to be connected with concepts of completeness, fulfilment, wellbeing and harmony. Hence usage of shalom in the Hebrew Bible often refers to conditions related to well-being: safety, health and prosperity of individuals and nations.
A thorough etymological analysis of the Hebrew roots and their derivatives reveal that 'Lom was the basic root word for Shalom and appears in other languages in similar forms. ("Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament", by Botterweck, Ringgren, and Fabry).
The word shalom is used in the world variety of expressions and contexts in Hebrew speech and writing:
- Shalom aleichem (שָׁלוֹם עֲלֵיכֶם; literally "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 Erev Shabbat (Sabbath eve), Jewish people have a custom of singing a song which is called Shalom aleichem, before the Kiddush over wine of the Shabbat dinner is recited.
- In the Gospels in the New Testament, Jesus often uses the greeting "Peace be unto you," a translation of shalom aleichem.
- Shalom by itself is a very common abbreviation, and is used in Modern Israeli Hebrew to both greet and farewell. In this it is similar to the Hawaiian aloha and the Indian namaste. Also in Israel, especially among secular people, "b'ye" (English) and "yallah b'ye" (a mixture of Arabic and English is popular. Shalom is also used by Jewish people around the world, and even by many non-Jewish people.
- Shabbat shalom (שַׁבָּת שָׁלוֹם) is a common greeting used on Shabbat (the Jewish sabbath). This is most prominent in areas with Mizrahi, Sephardi or Modern Israel influence. Many Ashkenazi communities in the Jewish diaspora use Yiddish Gut shabbes in preference or interchangeably.
- Ma sh'lom'cha (מַה שְׁלוֹמְךָ; literally "what is your well-being/peace?") is a Hebrew equivalent of the English "how are you?". This is the form addressed to a single male. The form for addressing a single 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 (עַלָיו הַשָּׁלוֹם; literally "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 amida prayers). The full sentence is "עוֹשֶֹה שָׁלוֹם בִּמְרוֹמָיו, הוּא יַעֲשֶֹה שָׁלוֹם עָלֵינוּ,וְעַל כָּל יִשְֹרָאֵל וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן (Osĕ shālom bīmromāv hu ya'asĕ shālom aleynu v'al kol Yisrael v'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."
- The word Shalom is widely used in popular Israeli songs about Peace such as In Our Garden, Ratziti Sheteda, Shalom Chaverim, etc.
- President Bill Clinton bade farewell to Yitzhak Rabin with the words Shalom, Chaver.
- The word 'Lom (and occasionally Sh'lom) have been used (especially by Jewish teenagers) as the contracted forms of Shalom in street slang.
Related words in Modern Hebrew include l'shalem (לְשַׁלֵּם), "to pay" and shalem (שָׁלֵם), "complete".