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December 21, 2014 / 29 Kislev, 5775
 
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In Hebrew: ‘Good Luck!’

A daily dose of Hebrew.
good luck bears

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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