Ose Ha’Shalom: Bringing Peace to the World

Before we conclude the Amidah we take three steps backward, taking the intense energy that was present during our prayers and bringing it down into this world—into the three levels of creation (beriah), formation (yetzira) and action (asiya). Thus, we integrate and tie up our prayers so that there is no nourishment for the unholy from this holy place of prayer. Occasionally, the intensity of a spiritual experience can spill over into unwanted directions, and so we need to make sure that there is no such thing happening here.

As we recite the words ose shalom (“make peace…”) we bow to the right, left and center, bringing peace to the entire world.

During the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we substitute here the words ose ha’shalom—adding the letter hei—to create a phrase which literally means “make the peace.” The consequent word, ha’shalom, is comprised of five Hebrew letters totaling 381: hei equaling the numerical value of 5; shin equaling 300; lamed equaling 30; vav equaling 6; and mem equaling 40. The total, 381, is the same numerical value of the name of the angel Safriel, “the scribe of God.” It thus evokes our wish to be subscribed and sealed for a sweet good year.


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