Shalom, Shin

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SHALOM, SHIN (pseudonym of Shalom Joseph Shapira ; 1904–1990), Hebrew poet and author. Born in Parczew, Poland, Shalom was a descendant of distinguished ḥasidic rabbis. He received a religious and secular education at his grandfather's "court," which moved to Vienna in the wake of World War i. Here he began to write poetry, at first in German and later solely in Hebrew. His grandfather, R. Ḥayyim Meir Jehiel Shapira, spent many years preparing the family for immigration to Palestine; in 1922 some 30 members of the family immigrated to Jerusalem, where Shalom attended a teachers' seminary. In 1926 he joined those rabbis in his family who founded Kefar Ḥasidim in the Valley of Jezreel, and taught Hebrew in this settlement. In 1928 he moved to Rosh Pinnah in the Galilee. Shalom described this period in his book Yoman ba-Galil. From 1930 to 1931 Shalom studied philosophy at the University of Erlangen (Germany). He returned in 1932 to teach in Jerusalem; later he moved to Reḥovot and finally settled in Haifa (1954). In 1968 Shalom was elected chairman of the Hebrew Writers' Association of Israel. His works won varied literary awards and his collected works were published in eight volumes (1966–68). The lyrical and dramatic tension in Shalom's poetry is created between the "I" of the universe (whom he sometimes calls "Him") and the personal "I." He envisages the life of man and of the world as a constant ascent, accompanied by falls, a Jacob's ladder touching the ground with its top rung in the sky; an ascent from the personal "I" to the infinite "I," from the life of the moment to eternal life. This journey from "I" to "I" finds its strongest expression in Shalom's two main books of poetry, Panim el Panim ("Face to Face," 1941) and Sefer Ḥai Ro'i (1963). In the former it is a magical journey within the inner soul; in the latter the journey is made real through living characters and plastic portrayal of sights and situations. Shalom's two novels – Yoman be-Galil ("Galilee Diary," 1932) and Ha-Ner Lo Kavah ("The Candle Was Not Extinguished," 1942) – are useful for deciphering his poetry. The former is a first-person narrative concerning the love of a Jewish teacher for an Arab girl. Ha-Ner Lo Kavah focuses upon the life of a poet whose private struggle to ensure that "the candle does not go out" corresponds with the nation's struggle for independence and strength. Shalom's verse dramas also depict the struggle and confrontation between the two "I"s, between time and eternity. The drama, Shabbat ha-Olam ("The World's Sabbath," 1945) is based on the tragic antinomy between the tanna, Elisha b. Avuyah, who abandoned religious practice and his disciple, R. Meir, who remained steadfast in his belief. Elisha's desecration of the Sabbath constitutes, in a way, a revolutionary call for the casting off of the yoke of the law and, on the other hand, the observance of the Sabbath by R. Meir and his wife, Beruryah, is aimed at preserving tradition. Only in the cave of the mystic Simeon b. Yoḥai is the secret of the affinity between the "Sabbath of the country" and the "Sabbath of the world" revealed. "The Cave of Josephus" was based on the life of Josephus. In connection with his poetical philosophy, Shalom also gave strong expression to the revival of Israel.

The close friendship between Shalom and Max *Brod prompted joint literary efforts, such as the historical play Sha'ul Melekh Yisrael ("Saul, King of Israel," 1944); Brod also wrote the libretto for the first Hebrew opera (music by Marc *Lavry) based on Shalom's play Dan ha-Shomer (1945) – a story inspired by the foundation of kibbutz *Ḥanitah – and composed several musical works on Shalom's poems, of which the most important is Requiem Ivri ("Hebrew Requiem") for solo voice and orchestra. Other Israeli composers, including Paul Ben-Ḥaim, Zeira, and Nardi have also set poems by Shalom to music. A list of his works translated into English appears in Goell, Bibliography, index, s.v. Shin Shalom.

[Gideon Katznelson]

In 1971 Shin Shalom published the volume of poetry Maḥteret ha-Shir, the ninth volume of his collected works, and in 1972 Kokhav ha-Tekumah, an epic of the rebirth of Israel, in which he gives expression to his faith in the meaning of the world and the mission of a man, an affirmation which stands in opposition to the depiction of violence and the absurd which characterizes much of contemporary poetry.

In 1973 he was awarded the Israel Prize, and simultaneously there appeared a special volume comprising 48 reviews of his poems during his half-century of activity.


M. Ribalow, The Flowering of Modern Hebrew Literature (1959), 207–36, including translation; Waxman, Literature, 5 (19602), 12–16; B. Kurzweil, Bein Ḥazon le-Vein ha-Absurdi (1966), 110–54; G. Katznelson, in: Me'assef, 5–6 (1966), 275–94; S. Shpan, Massot u-Meḥkarim (1964), 102–10: I. Rabinovich, Be-Ḥevlei Doram (1958), 62–100; R. Wallenrod, The Literature of Modern Israel (1956), index. add. bibliography: H. Barzel, Meshorerim al Shirah (1970); E. Zoref, Beshulei Sipporet ve-Shirah: Masot al Agnon, Bialik ve-Shalom (1971); H. Fisch, "On the Poetry of Sh. Shalom," in: jba, 32 (1974–75), 7–14; R. Ben Yosef, "Or ha-Ganuz," in: Ariel, 43 (1977), 18–30; A. Lipsker, Adam bein Tevel ve-Semel: Shalomha-Simbolizm be-Shirato (1982); idem, Temurot Poetiyyot be-Shirat Shin Shalom (1984); S. Avneri, Shirat Shin Shalom (1984); Y. Akaviahu, Noge'a be-Lev ha-Olam: Al Shirat Shin Shalom (1992); A. Ahroni, "Shin Shalom's Highest Gift," in: A Song to Life and World Peace (1993), 37–43; Z. Luz, "Meitav ha-Shir, le-Shin Shalom," in: Ẓafon, 7 (2004), 245–47.