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April 26, 2015 / 7 Iyar, 5775
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In Hebrew: ‘Good Luck!’

A daily dose of Hebrew.
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בְּהַצְלָחָה!

How to go about wishing someone well varies from language to language and from culture to culture.

In English, we say good luck – wishing the person good fortune, that the stars line up for them, that they find a four-leaf clover.

In Hebrew, we say בְּהַצְלָחָה (beh-hahts-lah-KHAH) – literally, with success.

A variation of that wish found in more religious circles is בְּרָכָה וְהַצְלָחָה (beh-rah-KHAH veh-hahts-lah-KHAH – but more often pronounced as in Yiddish, broh-KHEH veh-hahtz-LOH-kheh) – blessing and success. This likely derives from the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s staple wish to those in his personal audience, ברכה והצלחה בכל העניינים (…beh-KHOHL hah-een-yah-NEEM – but pronounced by the Rebbe, beh-KHOHL hoh-een-YOH-nim) – blessing and success in all (the) matters.

I believe Hebrew’s choice of בהצלחה reflects a more proactive orientation than that of the English good luck – that Jewish/Israeli culture emphasizes the role of the individual’s power to shape their destiny as at least equal to the power of external forces, even divine ones. I think wishing someone הצלחה -success – is more encouraging than wishing them good luck.

What do you think? Feel free to comment below.

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About the Author: Ami Steinberger is founder and director of Ulpan La-Inyan.


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