What do all those abbreviations like Z"L mean?
Those abbreviation are shorthand for common Hebrew phrases. Here are
some of the most common ones:
- (Alav (Male), Aleha (Female) Hashalom)
- For any deceased Jew.
- Translation: Peace Be Upon Him/Her. Sometimes written as PBUH by
- (Adonainu, Morainu, VeRabbeinu)
- Translation: Our Master, Our Teacher, and Our Rebbe
- Honorific title given to leaders (often scholarly, but not
always) of a Jewish community, "R' Ploni Almoni, SHLITA, Admor of Chelm.")
- This is usually a specifically Chassidic term.
- Often used to refer to the Rebbe that leads a particular
- (Ad Maia Veesrim Shana)
- Translation: [He/She should live] for 120 years
- Used for salutations in correspondence: "Dear Ploni AMU"Sh"
- (Baruch Hashem)
- Translation: Blessed be G-d
- More commonly used in the sense of "Thank G-d" to indicate
gratitutde or acceptance of something.
- (B'Ezras/Ezer Hashem)
- Translation: With G-d's help
- Often used at top of papers, sometimes with an ayin following the
- Sometimes included to indicate that a desired outcome, like
anything else, is (or was) dependent on G-d's will.
- (B'li Neder)
- Translation: Without taking a vow
- Used before a promise, since failure to fulfill a promise is a
serious violation of Jewish law. For example, "I'll check that reference
tomorrow, B"N." (i.e., if I forget, I don't want to be liable under Jewish
- (B'li Ayin Hara) or (K'ain Ayin Hara)
- Translation: "without the 'evil eye'"
- Meaning: "I'm saying this with the thought that this is good and
I don't want anything to harm it."
- Often pronounced Kanaina horo (Yiddish)
- (B'siyata d'shmaya) (Aramaic)
- Translation: With the help of heaven (common)
- Also used in the written "top of page" form as B"H, but not as
commonly in conversation or the text of the letter.
- (Chachameinu Zichronam Livracho)
- The authorative opinion of the Talmud
- Translation: Our Sages of Blessed Memory
- (Hashem Yikom Damo[am])
- For martyred Jews.
- Translation: May Hashem avenge his[their] Blood
- IY"H, IYH
- (Im Yirtzeh Hashem)
- Translation: If it be G-d's will (very common)
- Used for referring to future actions: "I'll see you tomorrow
- In other words, this is a recognition that while we may plan for
the future, we don't fully control it, as our plans can only come to fruition
if G-d wants that to happen.
- (Nishmaso(male)/Nishmasa(Female) b'Eden)
- Translation: His/Her soul should be in Eden/paradise
- This can also stand for "Reb" or "Rav", a general title of
respect that can be applied to any male (or if in Reform usage, female) Jew
deserving of such respect.
- (Rachmana litzlan) (Aramaic)
- Translation: May the All-Merciful save us [from such things]
- Translators usually replace it with the English parallel: G-d
- (SHe'yikhye Lirot Yamim Tovim ve'Arukim)
- Used for living prominent Jewish scholars.
- Translation: That he/she should live to see good and full days
- (Yemach Shmo Vezichro)
- For deceased enemies of the Jewish people
- Translation: May his name be wiped out (YH"SH, Y'Sh); May his
name and memory be wiped out (Y'Shu)
- (Zichrono Livrocho)
- For deceased Jews of good character.
- Translation: Of Blessed Memory
- Sometimes written as OBM
- The female form would have Zichrona (Pl: Zichronam for males or
mixed groups, or Zichronan if an all female group)
- (Zecher Tzadik Livrocho)
- For deceased Jews of outstanding (the emphasis is on
tzadik) character and behavior.
- Translation: The Memory of the Righteous is a Blessing
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