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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Idit here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Hebrew questions.
The question for this lesson is…
What are the meanings of some of Hebrew's unique greetings?
Hebrew has special greetings for different occasions. Let’s take a closer look at some of them.
We’ll start with a very useful greeting which means “good luck,” בהצלחה (be-hatzlaħa).
It literally means “with success," as if to say, “May you complete your task with success." You can say it to a person to wish them luck with a test, a job interview, a new project, or any other goal they wish to achieve. For example, if your friend got promoted and you want to wish him or her good luck at the new job, you can say--
בהצלחה בתפקיד החדש
(be-hatzlaħa ba-tafkid ha-ħadash)
Or simply
The next expression can be heard around dinner tables, in pubs, and at parties--
It means “cheers," and is used as a toast when drinking with company. The literal meaning of לחיים (le-ħaim) is “to life," reminding us that life itself should always be celebrated. לחיים (le-ħaim)!
This next expression can come in handy when celebrating a happy occasion such as a wedding, engagement, childbirth, graduation and so on. When someone congratulates you, you can answer בקרוב אצלך (be-karov etzle’kha), literally meaning “Soon so shall it be by you." For example, if you just got engaged to your girlfriend and a single friend congratulates you, you can reply with--
תודה, בקרוב אֶצְלְךָ!
(toda, be-karov etzle'kha!)
To a female friend, you will say
בקרוב אֶצְלֵךְ!
(be-karov etzlekh!)
The last expression is a famous one - you may know it, since it came from Yiddish and was “adopted” by English, as well. You may know it as “mazel-tov," and in Hebrew it’s - מזל טוב (Mazal tov).
It literally means “good luck," but is used as “Congratulations." This expression was originally meant to declare that a good thing had happened; it was said at weddings and births, as if to say, “What a lucky event has happened!" With time, the meaning was altered a little and today this expression is used to wish a person luck in the future. You can use it whenever you want to congratulate someone - on a new job, winning an award, graduating from university, and so on. For example--
מזל טוב ליום ההולדת
(mazal tov le-yom ha-huledet)
Literally, “Congratulations for your birthday.”
מזל טוב על הזכייה במקום הראשון
(mazal tov al ha-zkhiya ba-makom ha-rishon)
“Congratulations on winning the first place.”
How was this lesson? Pretty interesting right?
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them!