Mazel tov

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"Mazel Tov!" written on a wine glass tag
Traditionally, after the groom breaks the glass, the guests shout "Mazel tov!"
A birthday cake, iced with the words "מזל טוב" (mazal tov), as is often done in Israel. Here the phrase is written in Hebrew cursive.

"Mazel tov" or "mazal tov" (Hebrew/Yiddish: מזל טוב‎, Hebrew: mazal tov; Yiddish: mazel tov; lit. "good fortune") is a Jewish phrase used to express congratulations for a happy and significant occasion or event.

Etymology and pronunciation[edit]

The expression comes from the Mishnaic Hebrew mazzāl, meaning "constellation" or "destiny", which may be related to nazal, meaning "to flow down".[1][2][3]

While the words mazal (or mazel in Yiddish; "luck" or "fortune") and tov ("good") are Hebrew in origin, the phrase is of Yiddish origin, and was later incorporated into Modern Hebrew. The Yiddish pronunciation of mazel has the stress on the first syllable, the modern Hebrew word mazal has the stress on the last syllable, as is standard in modern Hebrew.

The phrase "mazel tov" is recorded as entering into American English from Yiddish in 1862,[4] pronounced /ˈmɑːzəlˌtɔːvˌ-ˌtɒvˌ-ˌtɒf/.[5] The word mazel was lent to a number of European languages, meaning "luck", such as: German, as Massel; Hungarian, as mázli; Dutch, as mazzel and the verb mazzelen ("to be lucky").[6] The word tov also entered Dutch as tof/toffe ("nice" or "great").[7]

Usage[edit]

Mazel tov is literally translated as "good luck" but is not used as that phrase is in English, as a wish for the future. Instead, the implicit meaning is "good luck has occurred" or "your fortune has been good" and the expression is an acknowledgement of that fact. It is similar in usage to the word "congratulations!" and conveys roughly, "I am pleased this good thing has happened to you!"[citation needed] A common Hebrew phrase for wishing "good luck", is b'hatzlacha (בהצלחה‎), literally meaning "with success".[8]

Throughout the Jewish world, including the diaspora, "mazel tov!" is a common Jewish expression at events such as a bar or bat mitzvah or a wedding. For example, at a Jewish wedding, it is shouted by the couple's friends and family after the ceremonial breaking of the glass. The phrase is used for all sorts of happy occasions, such a new driver's license, a birthday, or getting a new job.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Jews Without Borders - Jewish Holidays". Jewish Holidays. Orthodox Union. 13 February 2018.
  2. ^ "Above the Stars". www.chabad.org. Chabad.
  3. ^ "Ain Mazel L'Yisrael: There is No Fate Among Israel". Congregation B'nai B'rith. B'nai B'rith.
  4. ^ "mazel tov". Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House. Retrieved 2021-05-09.
  5. ^ "mazel tov". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 2021-05-09.
  6. ^ "Mazzel (geluk), (het beste)". etymologiebank.nl (in Dutch). Retrieved 2021-05-09.
  7. ^ "Tof (leuk, aardig)". etymologiebank.nl (in Dutch). Retrieved 2021-05-09.
  8. ^ wiktionary:בהצלחה
  9. ^ Rabbi Daniel Gordis (2003-07-30). "Nissuin: The Second of the Two Ceremonies". myjewishlearning.com. Retrieved 2021-05-09.

External links[edit]