What’s “Yasher Koach”?

Good_Job

(Photo credit: mistergesl)

You’ve just said a Torah blessing, or given a drash [short speech about Torah] or helped with something around the synagogue. Suddenly people are sticking their hands out to you for a handshake and saying “Ya-sher KO-ach!” with great enthusiasm.  What the heck?

Don’t worry, you haven’t done anything wrong; just the reverse, they’re congratulating you on a job well done. “Yasher koach!” translates, literally, “May your strength be firm!” but it’s an idiom meaning, “Good job!” and it carries with it the hope that this mitzvah will give you the strength to carry on to future mitzvot.   Think of it as a cheer.

It has a lot of variant pronunciations: YA-sher KO-ach, Y’Sh’KOICH, YA-sher-KOYch, and so on. The grammatically correct form when addressing a woman  is “Tashiri kohech” but usually you’ll hear the masculine. I do not correct the grammar when friends say “Yashar koach” to me – it’s a compliment, just accept it!

The polite thing to say in return is “Baruch Tihiye” (Ba-rooch tih-hee-yeh).  That means “blessed you will be,” which might translate colloquially as “Back atcha!”

6 Responses to What’s “Yasher Koach”?

  1. Gustavo Lancewicki says:

    I hate when those people tell me that. That’s why I speak lashan hora.

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  2. […] got posts on cooking Shabbat dinner, and posts on Synagogue Vocabulary. I’ve written about what “Yashar Koach” means and how to find a rabbi. And all this is good and necessary, judging from the fact that the blog […]

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for your efforts. I have a Catholic friend who’s very ill and has done good things his whole life.
    When I wished him Yasher koach, and told him that in his case it meant to have strength to do other good things, he was very touched.

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  4. […] the good actions they just performed (often after taking an alyia to the Torah) and wishing them strength in all their endeavors. The literal translation is “May your strength be firm.” It is an image of strength that is […]

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  5. Thank you for following my blog. Going to poke around yours now.

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