What is Shalom?

One major function of Torah is to reach “Shalom”. We may have commonly heard of Shalom in reference to the Hebrew expression of “Hello”. Well, Shalom is much more than that and should something everyone is aspiring for. Over time, the meaning of Shalom has changed and developed new meanings depending on the specific culture. We should always look the the Hebrew origin to get a better understanding of the true meaning of anything.

The Hebrew word for Shalom is also “Shalom” or “Salom”. In Hebrew it means peace, prosperity, health, welfare, balance, and whole. The main word that we should go to here is “whole”. See, Shalom does not pertain to just one of these meanings, but all of them together as a “whole”. In Western culture, we have been taught that peace is “The absence of war” or simply “quietness or tranquility”. That really limits the true meaning of Shalom, which relates to everything in our life that leads us to “wholeness”. We cannot be “whole” if we have absence of war, but have poor health, or have  good health, and no spiritual faith. The purpose of Shalom is to balance us out spiritually, mentally, and physically. It would be very incomplete to say that we have Shalom because America is not going through a current war. Peace starts spiritually from within, which manifest into the physical. We must always start within ourselves to truly solve a problem, or find the solution to any problem.

Let’s break down “Shalom”

Shalom is spelled using a Shin, Lamed, Waw, and Mem. Like any Hebrew word, the combined letters can always give you an in depth meaning of the word.  Unlike English, Hebrew words start from right to left. Shin means “To eat , consume, or press with teeth”. It relates to the act or idea of eating, or consuming something. Lamed means “to teach or lead”.  Waw stands for “tent peg” which relates to securing something or adding something. Mem means “water or blood”, in reference to the idea of cleansing. Now let’s try to explain Shalom going form letter to letter.

Starting with Shin, I see that we are supposed to be consuming something. We consume and eat all day, and at all times. Whether we are consuming something we are eating or something we are watching on tv. We should all evaluate what we are consuming. Are we consuming bad things or good things? With Shalom, we consume the “lamed”, which is the teachings. As previously stated our other readings about Torah, it is stated as simply being “instruction”. Teachings from Torah are the foundation for everything in life, so finding ‘Shalom” or complete peace is not possible without Torah.  The Lamed or ‘Shepard’s stick” also acts as  balance. See, “Shin” can sometimes have a negative charge, but the lamed stick oversees it and allows peace in a midst of chaos. The “Waw” which is a tent peg, stabilizes us and sticks us in the position to be guided by Yahweh.  Once we have consumed and eat the teaching and instruction, it secures us and puts us in a place where we can be cleansed.  We are cleansed with blood or water. In many concepts in different religions, being dipped in water is associated with rebirth. This concept is quite important to finding shalom. The ‘blood or water’ is symbolic for cleansing our mind, body, and spirit making us a new person. So you see, Shalom is not about changing your surroundings, but changing yourself.

With Shalom, You are the “whole” being that you were meant to be. If you have true Shalom, you are healthy, your mind is free of worry, you strive to gain spiritual knowledge and wisdom , you have no malice in your heart, and you are a benefit to those around you. Many trends today will only help you focus on one area, which will only benefit you for a limited period of time. For example, people who eat healthy, should never get sick or die from any chronic illness. We all know this is not true, but why? Ok, so you have a person that exercises everyday and eat all healthy foods. First you should ask, “What is the motivation?” Am I trying to get fit to impress people, or even impress myself, or I am doing this because I truly just want to live a more healthy life so I can be a benefit to God and my family. Honestly, many ( not all) Americans eat healthy and exercise for narcissistic reasons. For this motivation alone, the work is much in vain. If I have a “physically” healthy life, but still put too much focus on idol things like social media, work, nightlife, sex life, etc, and do not first try to spiritually work on ourselves, it will ultimately not work. To find true Shalom, we must start with the mind, and go to Torah to help us find out what is correct and how we should go about to achieve that goal.

With Shalom, you can be in the midst of war, but still have a peace of mind. We have been taught to change our surrounds to find this peace, but it really starts from within ourselves with the assistance of Torah. Patience, Self-control, Happiness, Contentedness, Accountability, and preservation all come with “Shalom”. We all must read for ourselves to personally find this happiness. Remember, once we consume the righteous teaching of the Torah, it will cleanse our mind, body, and spirit, which will allow us to be cleansed from our iniquities so we can be a “complete, balanced, and whole” person.

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