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What is the traditional Jewish greeting?

by Rabbi Yossi Marcus

  

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“Shalom Aleichem,” which means “peace unto you.”

The proper response to this greeting is “Aleichem Shalom”—or “onto you, peace.”

Even when greeting one person, you say, “Shalom Aleichem,” aleichem being plural. You don’t say “alecha,” which would be the singular form for “you.” The reason for this is that when two people meet there is polarity, the possibility of conflict. After all, every person thinks and feels differently. So we say Shalom aleichem: let peace infuse plurality.

So we say Shalom aleichem: let peace infuse plurality...Aleichem shalom connotes a peace that emerges from the differences and retains the character of each one...
The response, Aleichem shalom, goes even further: Shalom aleichem, in which peace precedes polarity, implies a peace imposed upon the two parties in which their differences are suppressed. Aleichem shalom connotes a peace that emerges from the differences and retains the character of each one.

Source: Likutei Sichot 25:165

TAGS: greeting

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