I often find myself pondering upon the definition of words mainly to analyze them and to see if I truly understand their meaning. One word that remains in my mind is the Hebrew word shalom. If one were to ask people, “Who knows what the word shalom means?” the majority most likely would say “peace.” After all, shalom, the Hebrew greeting, literally means “Peace be with you .”
Most people live their lives not knowing the complete meaning of shalom, and that saddens me. Linguistically inclined people understand that when a word is translated from one language to another, nuances of meaning often are sacrificed in favor of the simplest definition. In the case of shalom, one would tend to accept it simply as bestowing a single wish of peace, but it has a much grander meaning. One who wishes shalom on another person is wishing peace in the sense of complete personal wholeness free of cares and worries…a spiritual peace. When one wishes another shalom, he is actually expressing a desire that the person receive all that it takes to be satisfied…to be at peace with himself. The advantage of learning more than one language is that it opens a path to a more clear understanding of the inspiring concepts and sublime subtleties that are lost in translation.
I share this analysis of the word shalom because it expresses my wish for you, the person reading this essay. Today I wish you shalom in your life and the affirmation that it can be achieved.
Understand its complete meaning, visualize it in your mind and embrace it, and then experience peace in the full measure and intent of shalom. My concept ofshalom is captured elegantly in Isaiah 58:11. “…And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”
So wherever you may be, and in whatever you choose to do, I say to you, “Shalom”– not simply peace, but wholeness and satisfaction in all aspects of your life.