Bekarov etzlech

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, September 9, 2009

“Thank you. Bekarov etzlech,” is a familiar response in Israel to congratulations for becoming engaged or getting married. Bekarov etzelch literally means “soon with you”. It is a wish for the recipient of such a salutation to get married in the near future.

Bekarov etzlech is a translation of the Yiddish mirtzeshem bei dir and has made it into English as “Please God by you”. Mirtzeshem is the Yiddish version of the Hebrew im yirtzeh Hashem, if God pleases. In Yiddish, mirtzeshem has virtually lost its religious connotation, and now is a gentle qualifier meaning “all being well”.

To Yiddish speakers, the best Hebrew translation was bekarov, which simply meant “soon”.

Bekarov etzlech addresses a woman. The male version would be bekarov etzlecha, which is not heard as frequently — perhaps as a reflection of the greater pressure on women to get married.

There is some debate on whether bekarov etzlech is a gracious remark. Some say that by saying it, you are emphasising a weak spot in your friend. Others claim that as we can assume that the vast majority of people want to get married, it is actually a compassionate, supportive comment.

Last updated: 5:28pm, September 9 2009