You may hear one Jew say to another on a birthday: “Ad mea v’esrim!” [Ahd MAY-ah v’es-REEM] If you know your Hebrew numbers, you’ll know that this means “To 120!”
What on earth?
Parashat Vayelech begins:
Moses went and spoke these things to all Israel. He said to them: “I am now one hundred and twenty years old.” – Deuteronomy 31:1-2
This is the beginning of the death narrative of Moses, which will consume the rest of the book of Deuteronomy. We know from this that Moses was 120 at the time of his death. Yes, I know: awfully old. Perhaps Moses meant, “I FEEL 120.”
At any rate, when we say to a birthday person, “Ad mea v’esrim!” we are saying, “May you live to be a ripe old age, and as righteous as Moses!”
2 thoughts on “A Jewish Birthday Greeting”
Thank you for continuing to educate us. Gaining a deeper understanding of your faith helps more than you’ll ever know.
I am so glad, Sheri. Learning is a holy activity, an affirmation of the spark of the Divine within us. Thanks to you and other readers who let me know what is useful to you.