Dr. Siamak Moreh Sedgh
In Hebraic language, the term “Shalom” is used for peace, but the meaning of “Shalom” is much broader than “Non-existence of war”.
From etymological point of view, this word roots from Salasi and it is has the same root as “Shalem”, meaning being complete, well, to become lucky, become healthy, consistency and a good situation; and this word in the Bible, Gate 15, Verse 16 and Bible, Gate 33, Verse 18, means being complete, and specially regarding Gate 33, Verse 18, according to Rabbi Shelomu Yis’haghi, the great interpreter of Bible, the word has been used in all the above mentioned definitions, and from the viewpoints of Judaism, Shalom is a basis of evolution and conjunction to God.
Even in some cases in the Bible, the word “Shalom” is defined as definite goodness and it is brought as the antonym of badness. Isaiah, Gate 45, Verse 7 and in Bible, Gate 34, Verse 21 and in the Book of Kings, we see two uses of the word, meaning “honesty”. So we can say that the peace, evolution, goodness, honesty, in connection to each other, have one single definition.
The importance of a definition in one culture id directly related to the frequency of the use of the corresponding terms in the same culture. In the Bible, the word “Shalom” has been used 273 times as “Tanankh”. In addition, in everyday culture of the Jews, the term “Shalom” has got various applications.
1- The use of the term “Shalom” in the clause “Shalom Alechem” means wishing peace and health for the audience, which is very common among all Jews of the world and its has a common Sami root with the “Salam Alaykom”.
2- The use of the term “Shabat Shalom” for expressing respect in the Shabat Day, specially in Eastern communities of “Mizrahi” and “Sefaradi”, although a group of Ashkenazi Jews, use this term with the root of “Yiddish” with the same implication.
3- For greetings in Hebraic language, the most common terms root from “Shalom”
Ma Shlomcha singular masculine
Ma shlomchen plural feminine and masculine or plural masculine
Ma Schlomech singular feminine
Ma schlomechen Plural feminine
4- The term “Alav Hashalom” is equal to “Alayhessalam” (Peace be upon him” and it is used for the prophets and the deceased.
5- The term “ Oseh Hashalom”, to enshrine God, and it is repeated to establish and develop peace in the world and among all creatures in “grace after meals”, “Ghaddish”, and in all personal sections of the prayer.
6- The use of the word “Shalom” as the name of people and places, is a strong Jewish tradition, which are used for such clergymen like “Rabbi Shalom Karami”, “Rabbi Shalom Shanta” and “Yousef Shalom Elisha” and the pseudonym of the famous writer “Shalom Alekhem”. On the other hand, such feminine names like “Sholamit”, “Shelomit”, “Shelomozin” and “Shalomeh” and masculine names like “Shelomi” derive from the word “Shalom”.
7- In the Jews’ viewpoint, the most sacred city of the world is the city of peace “Jerusalem”.
8- In viewpoint of the Jewish speakers, “Shalom” is one of the titles of the Creator of the World.
9- In Kabbala, “Shalom” is used as a cosmos-related term, and it is the cause of creating coordination in cosmos.
To explain more precisely, as we mentioned before, the concepts of peace and Shalom in the Jewish tradition are beyond relinquishing war, cease-fire or not participating in the war. Shalom or peace is a status in which one from inside or outside, and one nation from inside and outside and all human beings and let’s say all the world are complete, noble, perfect and in the best conditions possible.
Peace has always had a key role in the thoughts of the Judaism as well as in the Sacred Book and Telmoud (Mishna & Gemara) and it has been repeatedly emphasized in all above-mentioned resources. Peace in Judaism is used with respect to family and personal dimension, in addition to the external aspect, and much emphasis has been put on each of these dimensions.
Even when war is inevitable, before the war begins, during and even after the war, various rules have been developed to prevent war and reduce the destructive effects thereof. In the rules of the Kings we read; “you are to avoid war, before you examine all peaceful ways”. On the other hand, raiding, assaulting women and children, cutting trees and non-insistence on peaceful treatment have been strongly prohibited. On the other hand, those have just married, or built a new house or constructed a new garden and farm, have been banned to take part in the war. Before starting the war, the commanders of the army are bound to talk with the troops and absolve from the war those who have fear. In case the enemy surrenders, it will be secure and even after the victory, we have to observe the borders and limits (Bible, Gate 19 and Gate 20).
In the viewpoint of the Sacred Book, peace is not limited to a specific group or time and place, and God has blessed all the world and all the children of Ebrahim with peace. (Bible, Gate 12, Verse 2).
Even, the value of this concept (peace) is so high that when the God wants to bless a group, he blesses them with Peace (Psalams , Gate 29, Verse 11). It is the religious duty of the Jews to make efforts to establish peace, friendship and justice in the world. (Isaiah 11, Verse 9-11), “There shall be no badness and harm in the land of God, and the world shall be filled with Knowledge of God, the same as seas that are filled and covered with water”.
God is the main protector of peace in the world, and if the wicked and the oppressors plan for initiation of war and oppression and they intend to eliminate the peace, God will fight with them. “The wicked are ready to attach the deprived and the underprivileged and destroy the devoted, but their swords will strike into their own hearts and their bows will be broken”. (Psalams , Chapter 37, Verses 14 and 15).
Adherence and respect to peace are the initial and certain requirements of fortune and are considered as avoidance from badness and keeping tongue from backbiting. “Oh, my children, listen to me, who is looking for fortune and long life. So you are to keep your tongues far from badness and keep your mouth far from useless words, and stick to peace” (Psalams , Gate 34, Verses 12-15).
Peace and Shalom have got such a high position in religion and sacred book that God announces to the people of the world the complete peace as the most important element for salvation and according to the sacred book, the full and global peace, it is the biggest gift of the lifesaver of the world to all human beings:
“all his enjoyment shall be in abeyance from God, he will judge according to Justice, and avenge on the evil-doers, wolf and lamb will live next to each other, leopard and kid will sleep in one grove. Calf will feed milk and a child will be their shepherd and there shall be no evil and harm in the land of God.” (Isaiah, Gate 11, Verse 9-11)
In fact in that time, the world will neither be in the cease-fire state, nor in the cold war, nor peace, armored, but the real peace shall govern the world and no weapon shall be required and all the power of the man shall be used in construction and welfare.
“God will put an end to the wars between all nations and they shall change their swords to plow and their lance to saw and the nations shall no more think of war.” (Isaiah, Gate 2, Verse 4).”
In that time, since judgment is transferred to the most just judge (God), fear will leave the world and peace and security will cover the world, so that there shall be no need for training of military techniques.
“God will judge among our nation and he shall end the disputes of the great powers in far lands. They will break their swords and lances for building plows and clippers. No nation shall use swords against the other, and they will not learn war, and everybody shall live in his house in peace and security, because there is nothing which may cause fear.” (Mika, gate 4, Verses 3 and 4).
In addition to the Sacred Book, we can also find many discussions about peace in other Jewish resources, in which they have considered the promotion of peace identical to goodness and benefaction. Hilel says: “you are advised to like peace and promote it and like the creatures. (Talmud)
And this is so much emphasized that we read: “the basis of Judaism education is the dissemination of peace.”. (Talmud). Rabbi Eliezer believes that Peace is the most important lesson of the Prophets’ educations and Rabbi Meir believes that “Peace is the biggest creation of God.”.
Based on the theory of Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel, the world sits on three columns: “justice, honesty and peace” and Rabbi Muna believes that these three columns are indeed of one nature and he has taken humor and comedy, which bring peace for the human beings, as authorized and even good item.
Many of the Jewish theologians and speakers, specially Rabbi Hanina, believe that establishment of peace and the protection thereof are one of few orders that do not begin with “whenever” or “when”, and it is not limited to time, space or a specific person and it is always effective, so that it is essential for the Jews to pray for Peace in every country they live.
On the other hand, the concept of peace in Judaism is not only limited to the inter-nation or intra-nation relations, but the subject of peace has many times emphasized in relations between the members of the family “Shalom Habit”, even the peace inside a person has been emphasized, and such orders like praise and sainthood of the Sacred day “Saturday” in which the Jewish person does not use working tools and he/she is less engaged in changing the nature, are exercises for internal peace and Shabbathh is a small window to the world of God, in which peace and perfection are governing.
Hope for a day when real peace shadows on the world and all human beings and other creatures of the Almighty feel the real meaning of “Shalom”.