Rabbi Avi Weinstein

A Public Service Announcement: “B’shalom” can mean “drop dead”!

In Uncategorized on October 6, 2009 at 7:21 pm

Allow me to explain.  Today, I received two emails one from a Jewish professional, and another from a young adult who is an active participant in Jewish life. Both of them signed off with “B’shalom” meaning, I assume, “with peace”. The problem is that they may be wishing for me to rest in peace.

Babylonian Talmud Moed Katan 29a

ואמר רבי לוי בר חיתא: הנפטר מן המת לא יאמר לו לך לשלום אלא לך בשלום הנפטר מן החי לא יאמר לו לך בשלום, אלא לך לשלום. הנפטר מן המת לא יאמר לו לך לשלום אלא לך בשלום – שנאמר ואתה תבוא אל אבתיך בשלום. הנפטר מן החי לא יאמר לו לך בשלום אלא +שמות ד’+ לך לשלום, שהרי דוד שאמר לאבשלום +שמואל ב’ ט”ו+ לך בשלום – הלך ונתלה, יתרו שאמר למשה +שמות ד’+ לך לשלום – הלך והצליח

Said Rabbi Levy Bar Chita: Anyone who leaves the company of the dead should not say לך לשלום (Go L’shalom) but should say לך בשלום (Go B’shalom). One who leaves the company of the living should not say לך בשלום (Go B’shalom) but לך לשלום (Go L’shalom).  As it is written: And you should go to your ancestors B’shalom. One who leaves the company of the living should not say go B’shalom but go L’shalom. For David said to Avshalom Go B’shalom and he went and was hanged and executed later on. Jethro said to Moses Go L’shalom and he (Moses) went and prospered.

Go L’shalom means Go toward a life of peace while Go B’shalom means something similar to rest in peace. Even inadvertent curses can take on a life of their own.  Then again, the ultimate closer may in fact be Go B’shalom.

I think I’ll go with:

B’vracha (With blessing), it’s safer.

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  1. […] A Public Service Announcement: “B’shalom” can mean “drop dead”! October 2009 3 […]

  2. I stand corrected from my long standing usage, but did get to use b’shalom correctly last week, when wishing the late Debbie Friedman lechi lach b’shalom…

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