Shalom Aleichem (liturgy)

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Shalom Aleichem (Hebrew: שָׁלוֹם עֲלֵיכֶם‬, "Peace be upon you") is a traditional song sung by Jews every Friday night upon returning home from synagogue prayer. It signals the arrival of the Jewish Sabbath, welcoming the angels who accompany a person home on the eve of the Sabbath.

Sources[edit]

This liturgical poem was written by the kabbalists of Safed in the late 16th or early 17th century.[1] A complete survey of extant manuscripts, compiled by Chaim Leiberman, is available in Kirjath Sepher vol. 38–9.[2]

According to a homiletic teaching in the Talmud, two angels accompany people on their way back home from synagogue on Friday night—a good angel and an evil angel. If the house has been prepared for the Shabbat ("the lamp has been lit, the table set, and his couch spread"), the good angel utters a blessing that the next Shabbat will be the same, and the evil angel is forced to respond "Amen". but if the home is not prepared for Shabbat, the evil angel expresses the wish that the next Shabbat will be the same, and the good angel is forced to respond "Amen".[3]

The custom of singing Shalom Aleichem on Friday night before Kiddush is now nearly universal, even though certain rabbinical authorities have expressed misgivings. The 18th century Rabbi Jacob Emden in his Sidur Beth Ya'aqov prayer book pointed out many problems regarding this song (addressing requests to angels, expressions that do not make sense, etc.). A similar attitude to the singing of Shalom Aleichem is attributed to Rabbi Elijah, the Vilna Gaon.

Words[edit]

The lyrics, in Hebrew, are as follows:

שָׁלוֹם עֲלֵיכֶם מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁרֵת מַלְאֲכֵי עֶלְיוֹן
מִמֶּלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְּלָכִים הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא

בּוֹאֲכֶם לְשָׁלוֹם מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁלוֹם מַלְאֲכֵי עֶלְיוֹן
מִמֶּלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְּלָכִים הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא

בָּרְכוּנִי לְשָׁלוֹם מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁלוֹם מַלְאָכֵי עֶלְיוֹן
מִמֶּלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְּלָכִים הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא


צֵאתְכֶם לְשָׁלוֹם מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁלוֹם מַלְאָכֵי עֶלְיוֹן
מִמֶּלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְּלָכִים הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא

The song in Hebrew is transliterated as follows:

Shalom aleichem malachei hash-sharet malachei Elyon,
mi-melech malachei ham-melachim haq-qadosh Baruch Hu.
Bo'achem le-shalom malachei hash-shalom malachei Elyon,
mi-melech malachei ham-melachim haq-qadosh Baruch Hu.
Barchoni le-shalom malachei hash-shalom malachei Elyon,
mi-melech malachei ham-melachim haq-qadosh Baruch Hu.
Tzeitechem le-shalom malachei hash-shalom malachei Elyon,
mi-melech malachei ham-melachim haq-qadosh Baruch Hu.

The words to the song translate as follows:

Peace unto you, ministerial angels, messengers of [the] Highest,
from the King, king(s) of the kings — the Holy, blessed be He.
[May] your coming [be] to peace, envoys of the peace, messengers of [the] Highest,
from the King, king(s) of the kings — the Holy, blessed be He.
Bless me for peace, envoys of the peace, messengers of [the] Highest,
from the King, king(s) of the kings — the Holy, blessed be He.
[May] your departure [be] to peace, envoys of the peace, messengers of [the] Highest,
from the King, king(s) of the kings — the Holy, blessed be He.

NOTE: Mizrahi (not Sefard) tradition includes a penultimate verse, beginning בְּשִׁבְתְּכם לשׁלוֹם‬, "[May] your rest [be] for peace ..." and the final verse has a בְּ inserted in front of the צ which does not change the meaning of the last verse.[4] The latter בְּ is also present in Tikunei Shabbos, the earliest known printing of the poem; as is one before the ב of the second verse.

Yaakov Chaim Sofer, in his work Kaf Hachayim, (262:16) notes:

ומנהגינו לומר אחר ברכוני לשלום וכו' בשבתכם לשלום וכו' ואח"כ חוזרים לומר ברכוני לשלום וכו' ואח"כ אומרים בצאתכם לשלום וכו' וחוזרים לומר ברכונו לשלום וכו' ור"ל ברכוני בעת בואכם ובעת שבתכם ובעת צאתכם ור"ל בשעה שאתם יוצאים באיזה שעה שרוצים לצאת

"And our custom is to say, after 'Bless me for peace etc.', '[May] your rest [be] for peace etc.'. And afterwards we repeat, saying 'Bless me for peace etc.,' and then we say '[May] your departure [be] for peace etc.,' and then we repeat, saying 'Bless me for peace etc.;' the purpose being to request a blessing during your arrival and during your rest and during your departure — and my meaning is, at the time that you depart, i.e. at whatever time you wish to depart."

Rabbi Jacob Emden, in his prayerbook, Bet El (1745), criticized both the use of the hymn (on the grounds that supplications on the Sabbath and supplications to angels were inappropriate) and its grammar—arguing that the inclusion of the prefix מִ at the beginning of every second line (i.e., mee-melech) was bad form, as it rendered the passage, "angels of the Most High, away from the King who rules over kings". He therefore deleted that מִ, thereby reducing mi-melech to melech, and that deletion has been emulated in some other prayerbooks (apparently a small minority) such as Seligman Baer's Siddur Avodat Yisroel (1868), the Orot Sephardic, and Koren's Mizrahi (but not Koren's Ashkenaz or Sefard) prayerbook, although it makes the musical meter a bit awkward.[5]

Melodies[edit]

Many different melodies have been written for Shalom Aleichem.

The slow, well-known melody for the song was composed by the American composer and conductor Rabbi Israel Goldfarb on May 10, 1918 while sitting near the Alma Mater statue in front of Low Memorial Library at Columbia University, and first published later that year as "Sholom Alechem—שָׁלוֹם עֲלֵיכֶם" in Friday Evening Melodies by Israel and his brother Samuel.[6] The famous Goldfarb song is often presumed to be a traditional Hasidic melody. I. Goldfarb wrote in 1963, "The popularity of the melody traveled not only throughout this country but throughout the world, so that many people came to believe that the song was handed down from Mt. Sinai by Moses."[7] In the Preface to "Friday Evening Melodies" the composers articulated the goal of avoiding the extremes of both the free-form emotive Eastern European musical liturgical style and the classical Western European musical structure of "Israel Emancipated."

Lately, a modern, exuberantly joyful version of this melody has been popularized by Idan Yaniv and Kinderlach.

As one of her last acts, Debbie Friedman shared her beautiful and haunting[according to whom?] "Shalom Aleichem" with Rabbi Joy Levitt. Friedman believed it was this song that would become her legacy.

The Faster Common Traditional Melody was composed by Rabbi Shmuel Brazil.

References[edit]

  1. ^ It is first found in the Tikkune Shabbat, published in Prague in 1641, according to B.S. Jacobson, The Sabbath Service (Sinai Publ'g, Tel-Aviv, English ed. 1981) page 123; M. Nulman, The Encyclopedia of Jewish Prayer (Aronson, N.J. 1993) page 290; and A.Z. Idelsohn, Jewish Liturgy and its Development (New York, 1931) page 54.
  2. ^ Liebermann, H., 'ספר ״תקוני שבת״' Kirjath Sepher 38 (1962–1963) p. 401–414; 39 (1963/1964) p. 109–116. http://bookreader.nli.org.il/NliBookViewer/?ie_pid=IE47264668&_ga=2.92572701.1262827958.1526342677-1205974753.1526342676#page/n0/mode/2up http://bookreader.nli.org.il/NliBookViewer/?ie_pid=IE47265177&_ga=2.169298081.1262827958.1526342677-1205974753.1526342676#page/n0/mode/2up
  3. ^ Shabbat 119b.
  4. ^ Koren Siddur Tefila, Mizrahi ed., 1988 Jerusalem, page 156; Orot Sephardic Shabbat Siddur, 1995 NJ, page 140; M. Nulman, Encyclopedia of Jewish Prayer, 1993 NJ, page 291; but not found in the "Sefard" prayerbooks by Koren, ArtScroll, or de Sola Pool.
  5. ^ B.S. Jacobson, The Sabbath Service (Sinai Publ'g, Tel-Aviv, English ed. 1981) pages 124–125; Siddur Avodat Yisroel page 196.
  6. ^ Friday Evening Melodies—שיר ישראל לליל שבת, composed by Rabbi Israel Goldfarb and Samuel Eliezer Goldfarb, published by Bureau of Jewish Education, New York, 1981, pages 83–86.
  7. ^ http://www.kanestreet.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/hjbinder06sacred_music.pdf#page=6

External links[edit]