NJOP stands in solidarity with the Squirrel Hill community in Pittsburgh and expresses its profound condolences to the members and families of the Tree of Life Congregation who lost their lives on Shabbat. It is our hope that the outpouring of love and support from the broader Jewish community and from people of good will across the length and breadth of America, may serve as some small comfort as the community mourns the loss of precious lives and face the pain and suffering experienced by others at the synagogue. Profound thanks to the Pittsburgh Police Department who risked life and limb to save other potential victims from death and harm. May God grant comfort to the families who lost loved ones and a Refuah Shelayma, a speedy and full recovery, to all those who were injured in this terrible attack.

With this is mind, today we are resharing our Jewish Treat about the power of wishing someone a Shabbat Shalom, a Sabbath of Peace.

Life provides us with a plethora of opportunities to pronounce blessings. There are blessings on foods, blessings on doing a mitzvah, and even a blessing after using the restroom. Not all blessings are formal declarations (those that start with Baruch Ah’tah Ah’do’nai…,Blessed are You God…). Saying “God bless you” when a person sneezes is also a blessing.

The greeting “Shabbat Shalom” is also a blessing. Shabbat is a day of rest, of spending time connected to the Divine…this is hard to do if one is not at peace, or is agitated or worried. Additionally, the word “Shalom” is derived from the word shaleim, which means whole or complete. Greeting someone with “Shabbat Shalom” is more than wishing them to “have a nice day,” although it is sometimes meant as such. Rather, it is a blessing for someone to have a Shabbat of peace in which no worries interfere with their connection to the Divine, so that their souls can feel the wholeness promised in the World to Come. (Shabbat is said to be a “taste of the World to Come.”)

If one truly intends that the words “Shabbat Shalom” be a blessing, the words must be pronounced in the proper manner. Too often, as people hurry on their way, even when walking home from synagogue on Shabbat, they mumble “Shabbat Shalom” at any Jewish-looking person who draws close. Ideally, we should wish “Shabbat Shalom” while smiling and looking our fellow Jew in the eye. This is regarded as presenting a “sever panim yafot,” a cheerful countenance, as prescribed in Ethics of the Fathers 1:15.

This Treat was last posted on October 22, 2010. 

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