Shalom Aleichem

The table is set with the finest china, crystal, and silver. (When it comes to Shabbat, nothing is saved for a special occasion, for this is the most special occasion!) Those who went to synagogue have now returned, and the room is filled with the warm sounds of Shabbat Shalom greetings. Everyone is invited to the table, as we begin the meal with song.

Shalom Aleichem! — the traditional greeting used when two Jews meet, and the name of the song that begins the Shabbat meal Friday night.

Shalom Aleichem — May peace be upon you.

Shalom…peace…from the Hebrew word shalem, which means complete.

On the most basic level, by singing this song, we are asking God to bless our home with peace, that there should be no conflict between friends or family, especially on Shabbat.

The Talmud says that when a person comes homes from synagogue on Friday night, he is accompanied by two angels — a good angel and a bad angel. If the table is beautifully set and there is a peaceful atmosphere in the home, then the good angel says, So may it be next week, and the bad angel is forced to say, Amen — so may it be! But if the house is a mess (both physically and emotionally), then the bad angel says, So may it be next week, and the good angel is forced to say, Amen!

On another level though, we are asking for completeness: that we should truly feel that we lack nothing — that the world is complete on Shabbat. We sit back in awe at this revelation. Our weekday work is done.

The only work now is the work of Shabbat, which is something much deeper and often much harder to attain — that is working on oneself, on real completeness, the achievement of a more ideal sense of self.

On Shabbat, one is no longer split. During the week there is the working you, the family you, the day-to-day you. But on Shabbat you are focused, with everything in harmony: family, learning, joy of life…

Shalom Aleichem!

Each verse is customarily sung three times:

ShalomAleichem_HEBREW_1

Shalom aleichem malachei ha-shareit malachei elyon, mi-melech malchei ha-melachim Ha-Kadosh Baruch Hu.

Peace upon you, ministering angels, messengers of the Most High, of the Supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.

ShalomAleichem_HEBREW_2

Bo’achem le-shalom malachei ha-shalom malachei elyon, mi-melech malchei ha-melachim Ha-Kadosh Baruch Hu.

Come in peace, messengers of peace, messengers of the Most High, of the Supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.

ShalomAleichem_HEBREW_3

Barchuni le-shalom malachei ha-shalom malachei elyon, mi-melech malchei ha-melachim Ha-Kadosh Baruch Hu.

Bless me with peace, messengers of peace, messengers of the Most High, of the Supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.

ShalomAleichem_HEBREW_4

Tzeit’chem le-shalom malachei ha-shalom malachei elyon, mi-melech malchei ha-melachim Ha-Kadosh Baruch Hu.

May your departure be in peace, messengers of peace, messengers of the Most High, of the Supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.

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