Could anyone explain me the antonym of shalom? The antonym of light is darkness, but Yeshayahu seems to tell that the antonym of shalom is rah.. but isn't rah the antonym of tov, like in the etz hada'at tov v'rah?

In order to understand why the opposite of ra is shalom, not tov, we need to go back to Bereshit. G-d created order. Order in G-d’s creation is an expression of harmony, balance and integration. In G-d’s creation, this order leads directly to the well-being of everything created and the fullest possible relationship with the Creator. In the Tenach, this is called shalom, peace. The introduction of evil into this harmonious existence brings about chaos, the disruption of shalom. Our culture considers good and evil to be ethical opposites, but the Tenach views peace and evil as ontological opposites. The antonym “peace and evil” describes the existence of the world, not the potential of ethical choices. Peace and evil precede the ethical choices of good and evil. Even in the Bereshit account, good and evil stand as possible but not actual antonyms. They only become actual ethical descriptions of human choices after the choice is made. But shalom exists as an actual (ontological) fact from the moment of creation.

You might say, “All this is interesting philosophical discussion, but what difference does it make to me today?” Ah, it makes all the difference. The Tenach tells us that evil is not a part of creation, a fact of existence. It is the disintegration of creation, the collapse of what was originally and essentially at peace. Furthermore, this implies that the end of the game is not the Good, the True and the Beautiful (as the Greeks thought), but rather shalom, the state of the world where the lion lays down with the lamb. Our direction is toward the past, a return to the Garden of delight in peaceful harmony with itself and with its Creator. G-d is restoring peace on earth because everything started in peace. When I apply this fact of creation to my world today, I am directed to pursue peace. I am called to be the peacemaker, the one who brings the world into harmony with its Creator. I am challenged to stand against all the forces of chaos, disintegration, separation and dissention. I am exhorted to seek unity. Where I find brokenness, I am asked to heal. Where I find heartache, I am asked to comfort. Where I find schism, I am asked to repair. Peace is my project. It begins with peace with G-d and extends itself toward every aspect of His creation.

Is this view correct?

  • Where does that quotation originate? Also, what is an antonym? Are you taking the author's definition of it for granted and asking about validation of its application, or are you questioning the definition as well?
    – WAF
    Commented May 22, 2015 at 11:51
  • Why do you presume that Yeshayahu says that they are antonyms? Is this a linguistic question?
    – rosends
    Commented May 22, 2015 at 12:27
  • Antonym = a word opposite in meaning to another. I'm just trying to see how rah is defined as opposite for the definition of shalom, and how it is defined as opposite for tov as well and the connection (comparrison and difference) between them.
    – J.Levi
    Commented May 22, 2015 at 12:29
  • If Yeshayahu isn't speaking about antonyms then i wonder why shalom is posed against rah.
    – J.Levi
    Commented May 22, 2015 at 12:30
  • 1

2 Answers 2


Metzudat David on Ecclesiastes 3:1 states for explaining the phrase: "There is a time for every purpose:

ועת לכל חפץ . לכל הדברים שהאדם חפץ בו גם לזה יש עת , כי לא בכל עת יחפוץ בדבר אחד כי פעם יחפוץ בדבר מה ופעם בחלופו , וכאשר יפרש במקראות שלאחריו :

I am translating only the bold phrase:

"There is a time when someone will desire in one thing, and another time when he will desire its opposite"

From this explanation, I infer that what Solomon wrote in verses 2-8 (and what "The Byrds" sang almost verbatim ;-) consists of a pair of opposites.

Thus, viewing verse 8:

עֵ֤ת לֶֽאֱהֹב֙ וְעֵ֣ת לִשְׂנֹ֔א עֵ֥ת מִלְחָמָ֖ה וְעֵ֥ת שָׁלֽוֹם)

A time to love, and a time to hate; A time for war, and a time for peace.

Therefore the antonym for שָׁלֽוֹם is מִלְחָמָ֖ה


I think the postulate in the question is a false dichotomy. There is no reason that "Rah" can't have more than one antonym.

War and fighting is bad. Peace is good. There is no reason to not use both as antonyms. So the idea of saying that Tov is not an antonym of "Rah" is simply not supported by any observation of additional antonyms, and any conclusions drawn from there need to stand on their own without this conclusion.

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