The word Shalom comes from the root letters Sh-L-M, as in Hebrew grammar, a trilateral root can take on all sorts of different meanings depending on the inserted vowels and so on. People in the English speaking world will likely be familiar with ‘Shalom’ as a greeting, and maybe even know that it can be used as a stand in for both ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’. It can also be used to mean ‘peace’ or ‘harmony’, used in phrases like Shabbat Shalom, or Shalom Bayit (peace in the home) .
Other greeting terms from around the world have this, and not too dissimilar to ‘aloha’, in its native context can have many more complex and religious connotations. In addition to a greeting and meaning ‘peace’, this root is also the word for ‘pay’ and ‘complete’. It is this last meaning that is perhaps the most telling. All of the meanings relate to having balance in the world. When you pay, you complete a debt, and peace means things are perfect and finished. It also means there won’t be cause for dispute, as the debt has been settled.