Passing Phrase -

Gmar Chatima Tova

Literally: Finish with a good sealing
Idiomatically: May you be signed and sealed in the book of life

This phrase has become part of the Hebrew lexicon and is used as a greeting/blessing of good wishes as we approach Yom Kippur. Prior to Rosh Hashanah, the New Year, we may hear כתיבה וחתימה טובה "K'tiva V'Chatima Tova" - may you be signed and sealed in the book of life."

This phrase has the additional word or idea of "finish." Although some attribute the phrase to Rabbi Moshe Sofer (Chatam Sofer 1762-1839) the origin is unclear. What we do know is that it is based on the Kabbala, with the idea that on Rosh Hashanah it is written as to what kind of year we will have. However, all this can change (depending on our actions) until Yom Kippur when all is sealed. Some continue this greeting/blessing until the end of the Succot holidays (Hoshanah Rabba).

Many people shorten it to "Chatima Tova" not because they are lazy (which may be true in my case) but because this usage is actually more prevalent in the Sephardic communities.

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