In the past few weeks we have achieved several milestones in our congregation and celebrated wonderful happy moments in the lives of many of you. Often, we use the Hebrew expression “Yasher Koach“ to congratulate one another when a person does well or has achieved something in their lives (and I include an Aliyah to the Torah on purpose, as this is something special and good).
With proper diction, the expression is really supposed to be „Yishar kochacha“ which literally means „May your strength be enriched“ or „May your strength be straight.“ These days, the closest idiom would be „More power to you.“
Its origin is the Talmud where it comments on God’s endorsement of Moses breaking the Tablets in response to the Israelites worshipping the Golden Calf:
„And how do we know that the Holy One, blessed be He, gave His
approval? Because it is said, „Which you have broken“ (asher
shibarta). Resh Lakish said, (Yishar kochecha sheshibarta)
„All strength to you“ (i.e., congratulations for breaking them).“
The correct form to congratulate a woman is: “Yashar kochech“, and if you like to express your wishes to a group, it is “Yashar kochechem“.
It is my wish and my hope that we will have also in future many wonderful occassions to bless one another with this marvelous expression.
Shabbat Shalom—Yashar kochechem
Rabbi Adrian M Schell
(Pictures below: Chuppah of Shane and Parusha Dorfman)