Shalom Aleichem
Peace Be Upon You

(click below the music notes to listen to several versions)

Shalom Aleichem, malachei ha-sharet, malachei Elyon, miMelech malchei ham'lachim, HaKadosh Baruch Hu
Peace upon you, O ministering angels, angels of the Exalted One - from the King who reigns over kings, the Holy One, Blessed is He.

Bo-achem l'shalom, malachei ha-shalom, malachei Elyon, miMelech malchei ham'lachim, HaKadosh Baruch Hu
May your coming be for peace, O angels of peace, angels of the Exalted One - from the King Who reigns over kings, the Holy One, Blessed is He.

Bar'chuni l'shalom, malachei hashalom, malachei Elyon, miMelech malchei ham'lachim, HaKadosh Baruch Hu
Bless me for peace, O angels of peace, angels of the Exalted One - from the King Who reigns over kings, the Holy One, Blessed is He.

Tzeit'chem l'shalom, malachei ha-shalom, malachei Elyon, miMelech malchei ham'lachim, HaKadosh Baruch Hu
May your departure be to peace, O angesl of peace, angels of the Exalted One - from the King Who reigns over kings, the Holy One, Blessed is He.

Some add the following verses:

Ki malachav y'tzaveh lach lishmarcha b'chol d'rachecha
He will charge His angels for you, to protect you in all your ways.

Hashem yishmar tzeit'cha uvoecha meyatah v'ad olam
May Hashem protect your going and your returning from this time and forever.

Shalom Aleichem is the name of a hymn chanted on Friday nights, upon returning home from the Shabbat-eve services. This song of peace, introduced by the Kabbalists of the 17th century, is based on the talmudic passage concerning a good angel and an evil angel accompanying every man home from the synagogue on Friday evenings. If they find the house in good order, the good angel says: "May the next Shabbat be as this one." If, on the other hand, they find the house neglected, the evil angel says: "May the next Shabbat be as this one":

Talmud - Mas. Shabbat 119b

It was taught, R. Jose son of R. Judah said: Two ministering angels accompany man on the eve of the Sabbath from the synagogue to his home, one a good [angel] and one an evil [one]. And when he arrives home and finds the lamp burning, the table laid and the couch [bed] covered with a spread, the good angel exclaims, ‘May it be even thus on another Sabbath [too],’ and the evil angel unwillingly responds ‘amen’. But if not,7 the evil angel exclaims, ‘May it be even thus on another Sabbath [tool,’ and the good angel unwillingly responds, ‘amen’.

7 If everything is in disorder and gloomy.


If every Jew is accompanied home by two ministering angels, then it is only proper that he greet them, bless them, and seek their blessing.

The two angels have also been interpreted to mean the good impulse (yetzer tov) and the evil impulse (yetzer hara) that are pictured as wrestling in perpetual conflict within man's heart. The hymn was first printed in Prague in 1641.

It is customary to say each stanza of Shalom Aleichem three times. This practice is done to strengthen the interest in the subject matter (Likk Mah, ibid). There are various practices as to reciting Shalom Aleichem and singing Zemirot when Shabbat coincides with a festival. Some do not sing any Zemirot so as to honor the festival as one waits for a guest.

There are those who say Shalom Aleichem, Ribbon Kol Ha'Olamim up to Modeh ani, and Eishet Chayil. Instead of singing Zemirot they study the laws contained in the Mishnah pertaining to the particular holiday. Still others sing all the Zemirot for the three meals as on any other Shabbat because they believe that the Shabbat Zemirot bring redemption (EH, p. 3a)

On Rosh Hashanah one recites Shalom Aleichem up to Tzeit'chem l'shalom but without song, as is done all year. The reason for this change is that one must be fearful of the day of judgment.

Sefardim add another verse, Beshivtechem leshalom ("When you sit in peace") after Barchuni leshalom and conclude the hymn with Betzeit'chem leshalom. The hymn is not repeated as in the Ashkenazic tradition. (Siddur Hazon Ovadia Hashalaym [Jerusalem; Yeshivat "Hazon Ovadia." 1988], p. 351)



Sources:

  • Artscroll Siddur
  • Encyclopedia Of Jewish Concepts, Philip Birnbaum
  • To Pray As A Jew, Rabbi Donin
  • Soncino Talmud
  • Encyclopedia of Jewish Prayer

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