Notice: Undefined index: HTTP_REFERER in /home/mosaicdev/sites/dev.mosaicmagazine.com/htdocs/wp-content/themes/mosaic/functions/functions-paywall.php on line 947
Jewish Holiday Greetings Don't Make Much Sense - MosaicMosaic
Notice: Undefined variable: post in /home/mosaicdev/sites/dev.mosaicmagazine.com/htdocs/wp-content/themes/mosaic/functions/functions-yoast.php on line 89

Notice: Trying to get property 'ID' of non-object in /home/mosaicdev/sites/dev.mosaicmagazine.com/htdocs/wp-content/themes/mosaic/functions/functions-yoast.php on line 89
Development Site - Changes here will not affect the live (production) site.

Jewish Holiday Greetings Don't Make Much Sense

On the overuse of ḥag same’aḥ and the redundancy of gut yuntif.
Two boys share a laugh at the end of a Purim parade at the Alpert Jewish Community Center in Long Beach, Calif., on March 9, 2012. Jeff Gritchen/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images.

Two boys share a laugh at the end of a Purim parade at the Alpert Jewish Community Center in Long Beach, Calif., on March 9, 2012. Jeff Gritchen/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images.

Observation
Oct. 7 2020
About the author

Philologos, the renowned Jewish-language columnist, appears twice a month in Mosaic. Questions for him may be sent to his email address by clicking here.


My father, a Judaic scholar and a stickler for correct Hebrew, always scolded anyone who greeted him with ḥag same’aḥ, “happy holiday”—or as American Jews more commonly spell it, chag sameach—during ḥol ha-mo’ed, the intermediate days of Passover and Sukkot. The right expression, he told the greeter, was mo’adim l’simḥah, “[May] Sacred times [be] for happiness.” Only the first and last days of the holiday, he insisted, were true ḥagim, days whose customs of lighting candles, reciting the Kiddush, and abstaining from travel, work, and commerce resembled the Sabbath’s, and ḥag same’ah should be reserved for them alone.

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

More about: High Holidays, Religion & Holidays