Explaining the Shabbat Shalom Greeting

“Shabbat shalom” is a standard Hebrew greeting on the Jewish sabbath. Many say this to one another to create a friendly atmosphere.

Shabbat shalom is what Jews say to wish each other a pleasant and peaceful sabbath. They most commonly use the phrase on the day of the sabbath, which is Saturday. Wishing someone a “Shabbat shalom” is a great way to create a welcoming and neighborly atmosphere. There are appropriate responses to the phrase, and there are other idioms used to express the same friendly message. Keep reading to learn more about Shabbat, its atmosphere, and how “Shabbat shalom” plays a significant role in the weekly celebrations.

The following is what you can learn from this article:

  • * What is Shabbat
  • * Saying “Shabbat shalom” and how to respond
  • * Other ways to say “Shabbat shalom”
  • * The history of the Shabbat shalom greeting and the Hebrew language

What Is Shabbat

Before diving into more information about the “Shabbat shalom” greeting, it is essential first to understand what Shabbat is and its overall importance to Judaism.

Shabbat is the Jewish sabbath celebrated on Saturdays. More specifically, it begins at nightfall on Friday and ends at dusk on Saturday. As a sabbath day, Jews dedicate the entire day to rest, meditation, and spiritual connection.

To celebrate, many Jews have three meals throughout the day that contain traditional foods, prayers, and, sometimes, historical songs. Jews also traditionally go to the synagogue to observe this special day of the week. The service usually consists of songs, liturgies, and readings from the Torah- the first five books of the Hebrew Bible.

The Torah commands all followers of Judaism to practice or, at least, recognize Shabbat. About 3000 years ago, God helped lead the Israelites out of enslavement in Egypt and into freedom in the promised land. Shabbat commemorates this and requires Jews to cease all labor on the sabbath. Overall, Shabbat is a joyous day wherein Jews give thanks and celebrate another week.

Saying “Shabbat shalom” and How to Respond

“Shabbat shalom” is the common phrase used to greet one another, or to say farewell on the sabbath cordially. It is an earnest way of recognizing one’s presence, appropriately said anytime between Friday and Saturday evening.

The saying “Shabbat shalom” is in the Hebrew language. From Hebrew to English, it roughly translates to “sabbath of peace.” By saying this phrase, you are passing along good intentions for the upcoming sabbath celebrations. Many interpret the saying as a form of passing along hope of reconnecting within your faith and finding the strength to begin the new week.

Simply put, “Shabbat shalom” is a greeting for the sabbath. It is almost like saying “hello” or asking, “how are you?” For many, it is an involuntary saying that automatically accompanies the sabbath. Therefore, an appropriate response would be to say “Shabbat shalom” back. All in all, it is not a phrase that comes with many complications and intricate responses. Generally, it is a peaceful and neighborly thing to say to welcome the sabbath and to enjoy the day of rest.

Other Ways to Say “Shabbat Shalom”

While “Shabbat shalom” is one phrase used to greet others on the sabbath, there are other commons expressions that send the same message. Additionally, “Shabbat shalom” is a Hebrew phrase. There are some Yiddish phrases with similar, if not identical, meanings.

First, Yiddish is a derivative of the Hebrew language spoken popularly in central and eastern Europe before the Holocaust. Today, many of those who speak Yiddish are Jewish and commonly live in the United States, Russia, or Israel.

“Gut shabbes” is a common Yiddish phrase with a relatively similar definition to “Shabbat shalom.” It is a general expression used as a greeting or a farewell. In English, it translates to “good sabbath,” so it is comparable to the standard Hebrew phrase “Shabbat shalom.”

Another Hebrew phrase is “Shavua tov.” However, people do not speak this one on the sabbath. Instead, Jews say it to one another as a wish for a good upcoming week. So, you can typically hear people tell each other “Shavua tov” after service on Saturdays.

In both Yiddish and Hebrew, Jews commonly tell each other “Shalom Aleikhem.” This is an expression not necessarily confined to only Saturdays. Rather, it is more of a general greeting that translates to “peace upon you.” The appropriate response is to say, “Aleikhem shalom.” Like “Shabbat shalom,” this phrase does the trick at any time of the week in sending a cordial and friendly message.

Finally, you can say “Shalom” to others as a polite greeting. It is the Hebrew word for “hello” that literally translates to “peace.” This is a word spoken at any time of the week, obviously making it a prevalent term in the Hebrew language.

The History of the Shabbat Shalom Greeting and the Hebrew Language

Jews used the phrase “Shabbat shalom” for many years. The Hebrew language in itself is a very ancient language used for thousands of years. Its origins come from the area of land around Israel. Since its first use, the language developed over the years, adopting different dialects and language structures. Between the ninth and eighteenth centuries, Hebrew was actually not a spoken language. Instead, it found itself mainly in prose, poems, and other religious writings.

Between the ninth and the eighteenth centuries, the Hebrew language adopted foreign vocabulary and idioms. This is how the phrase “Shabbat shalom” developed into the saying it is today, and one of the reasons why it has since become one of the most popular expressions on the sabbath.

The phrase “Shabbat shalom,” according to historians, originated in Galilee. It first appears in a 17th century Hebrew book. Since Hebrew’s return as a spoken language in the nineteenth century, “Shabbat shalom” has been a common phrase on the sabbath.

All in all, “Shabbat shalom” is a common, friendly expression used as a greeting. Jews usually only use the phrase on the Jewish sabbath, which is Saturday. Coming from the Hebrew language, “Shabbat shalom” is a friendly way of saying “hello” to friends, family, and strangers!

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