Common Jewish Words & Phrases (Part 4): ‘Shalom Aleichem’
Art, Music & Literature
Greetings are significant in Jewish tradition. ‘Shalom Aleichem’, meaning 'peace be upon you', is a classic example, that needs understanding. When someone welcomes you with a ‘Shalom Aleichem’, you are meant to respond, 'Aleichem Shalom' (lit. ‘unto you peace'). Now, is it just because Jews tend to have contrasting opinions — as the saying goes, ‘two Jews, three opinions’ — that when being greeted, we respond with the opposite phrase? What is the explanation for this glaringly asymmetrical greeting and reply?
by David Frei, Director of External and Legal Services for the United Synagogue
Exactly 600 years ago this week, on 5th Adar 5173 (7th February 1413), the longest ever medieval Disputation between Christians and Jews began, in the northern Spanish city of Tortosa.
by Rabbi Yisrael Malkiel. Chaplain, Cambridge & East Anglia Universities
The sidrah begins immediately after the lofty scenes of Matan Torah, the giving of the Torah. On Mount Sinai, with voices, torches and smoke, G-d revealed Himself to us, spoke to us and gave us the Ten Commandments. As the sidrah of Mishpatim begins, we accept laws which are commanded in great detail, such as the laws of treating servants and employees and of damages for inflicting personal injuries. There is a sharp transition between on the one hand dealing with high, lofty concepts such as the revelation and the faith in one G-d and on the other hand immediately engaging in the dry details of human quarrels and conflicts.