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What Does Shalom Mean?

What Does Shalom Mean?

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Question:

I have heard "shalom" for years, but I don't know the meaning of the word. Can you help me understand this apparently profound word?

Answer:

I should know the meaning of the word as it's also my son's name...

Shalom, like many Hebrew words, has more than one meaning.

Shalom means peace, and is rooted in the word שלם (shaleim), which means completion. Without peace, there can be no completion...

Shalom is also commonly used as a greeting and salutation.

Shalom is also one of the Divine names, as such one should not greet a friend with "Shalom!" when in a place, such as a lavatory, where it is forbidden to pronounce G‑d's name.1

Shalom is also a common boy's name, though, interestingly, the Talmud refers to it as a woman's name (the name of Rabbi Eliezer's wife).

There are many references to this word and its variations throughout the Torah, Talmud and the commentaries. One I like in particular is the Mishnah that says: "G‑d did not find a vessel that could hold blessing other than shalom (peace)."

The more shalom we bring to the world, the quicker will we attain completion and true, everlasting peace.

Let me know if this helps,

Chani Benjaminson
Chabad.org

Footnotes
1.

It is, however, permitted according to most halachic authorities – and such is the prevailing practice – to call or talk of a person named Shalom in such places.

Chani Benjaminson is co-director of Chabad of the South Coast, coordinator of Chabad’s Ask the Rabbi and Feedback departments, and is a member of the editorial staff of Chabad.org.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
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17 Comments
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Mathews Chioko Malawi October 2, 2016

I am about to give my child the name "Shalom". Thank God for this wonderful explanation.

Mathews Reply

Chris December 11, 2015

Thank you, needed this :) Reply

Shalom Williams burke September 22, 2015

My name is Shalom!!! Reply

Anonymous August 31, 2015

Shalom is my name and that's pretty cool Reply

Anonymous May 26, 2014

Shalom - true peace with authority which destroys chaos Reply

Lourdes November 22, 2013

I was terribly worried for my son and was praying for him with fear and tears as I was driving home; suddenly, I turned to my left and looked up to read a street name sign......for no reason at all..........I have passed by this street at least 100 times before, mind you. The street name....SHALOM! I had heard this word many times before but wanted to research its meaning a bit more. Wow! Wow! God does speak! Shalom. Reply

dennis.mutua March 31, 2013

discussion Understood.Shalom. Reply

Mrs. Chana Benjaminson via mychabad.org March 20, 2013

Response You can respond with shalom in return, or shalom u'vracha which means 'peace and blessing'. Reply

Anonymous Illinois March 19, 2013

When someone greets you with shalom, what should your reply be? Reply

The guy Korea town, Ca May 4, 2012

Shalom Im not hebrew what so ever, but I dig the word and its meaning. Its real nice and powerful. Reply

Anonymous attalla, alabama usa January 3, 2012

Shalom I am a person of faith. I was praying and the word Shalom was spoken to me three times. I was very curious to its meaning. I have a much clearer understanding now. Thank you so much. Reply

Kevin Gilad Benyamin Smith Lawrenceville, NJ June 5, 2011

transliteration That means to spell out something in English as it would sound in Hebrew, but using English letters and not Hebrew letters. We;re doing it here by writing "shalom"... Reply

Anonymous jax June 4, 2011

shalom Thank you. Your explan was helpful. How does health relate to Shalom? Reply

Sharon Oliver Portales, New Mexico August 19, 2009

Transliterations Wow! It seems now I have another question so that I do not violate the rules of posting. Exactly what is a transliteration? Isn't that so Jewish? One question leads to another.

Shalom? Reply

angela woodbridge, va August 19, 2009

Shalom!!!!! Reply

Kevin Gilad Benyamin Smith Lawrenceville, NJ August 16, 2009

When asking in modern Hebrew "how are you" the second word sounds like it shares the same root. (I can't type it here because I was told we can't use transliterations in our comments!). Does it? Reply

Sharon Kay Oliver Portales, New Mexico August 16, 2009

Shalom? Is it true that "shalom" can also be a question? When it is, it then means "Is all well with you? Is there anything you lack?" In this essence, it then would connote, "is there something that is preventing you from having peace." Reply

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