Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Gmar Chatimah Tova

Gmar Chatimah Tova - Literally: A good final sealing.  Idiomatically: May you be inscribed [in the Book of Life] for Good.

"Gmar" comes from the root word that means to finish. Although it's not biblical, it appears quite a bit in the Talmud [Avot 2:16 Yevamot 12:6]. Chatimah is also talmudic and can mean a signature or a sealing [Pessachim 104]. 

The word "chotemet" or stamp [the ink kind, not the postal kind] is a derivative of "chatimah." Of course "tova" means good. 

The days of repentance are divided into two parts: The first the inscribing begins on Rosh Hashana and finishes Yom Kippur when the final "sealing" [chatima] of our fate takes place. Many sages give us a second chance - an extra 12 days until a really final sealing on Hoshana Rabba [the 7th day of Sukkot]. That is why many people finish their correspondence during this time of year by writing or saying Ktivah V'chatima Tova - "may you be inscribed and sealed for a good year." 

On or right before Yom Kippur, people modify that and wish "Gmar Chatima Tova." Technically you can say it means 'may your finished sealing be good' - which would be fine if you are redoing your apartment, but for the rest of us may you all have a healthy peaceful and fulfilling year.


Leah said...

G;mar Chatima Tova, Devorah! May you have a year of success in all of your endeavors; a year of growt and health!

Anonymous said...

Devorah, I am missing your posts.
Chag Sameah
--Anonymous :o)