Shalom Aleichem is a traditional greeting used when two Jews meet. We begin the Shabbat dinner by singing Shalom Aleichem, meaning ‘may peace be upon you’. As those who went to shul return, everyone is invited to the table for the Friday night Shabbat meal. On the most basic level, by singing Shalom Aleichem, we are asking G-d to bless our home with peace. We ask that there should be no conflict between friends or family, especially on Shabbat. On a deeper level, we are asking G-d for completeness. ‘Shalom’ means peace, while the Hebrew word ‘Shalem’ means complete. We ask that we should truly feel that we lack nothing and that the world and ourselves are complete on Shabbat. Our weekday work is done, the only thing left to focus on is the deed of keeping Shabbat, which is much deeper and often much harder to attain. We work on ourselves, on real completeness, the achievement of a more ideal sense of self. During the week our lives and ourselves are split. We have the family-me, the working-me, the day-to-day-me, the stressed- me, the busy-me. Shabbat makes us complete. We become focused. We feel peaceful. We enjoy our family and our friends, we let go of our stresses and we rest.
Lori Palatnik is a writer and Jewish educator who has appeared on television and radio. She is the Founding Director of The Jewish Women's Renaissance Project, an international initiative that brings thousands of women to Israel each year from 18 different countries, to inspire them with the beauty and wisdom of their heritage. She is a much sought-after international speaker, including featured talks at Yale, Brown and Penn. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area with her husband, Rabbi Yaakov Palatnik, and is the busy mother of five children.