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First Posted: Jan 4, 2014
Jan 4, 2014

Baruch Hashem, B'esrat Hashem, Besiyata Dishmaya, Alhamdulillah and Insha 'Allah

While we were traveling in Israel we heard a number of phrases used over and over. They included Baruch Hashem, B'esrat Hashem, Besiyata Dishmaya, Alhamdulillah and Insha 'Allah. We asked Graeme for a translation of these phrases. He was really helpful. He also encouraged us to use other Hebrew words throughout our travels. Of course, he taught them to us as Bill and I speak no Hebrew. Another sparkle from Graeme. Below are the phrases that became familiar throughout our Israel travel. What we heard depended, often, on where we were. Perhaps this will be helpful to you in your travels to Israel as well as other countries in the Middle East and Africa.

Baruch Hashem: "'Baruch Hashem' literally means 'Blessed is G-d.' But G-d cannot be blessed, for He is Above all, and does not need a mere human's blessings. So when one says this phrase, they really mean to acknowledge that G-d is the Source of all blessings. It is a way of saying 'Thank G-d.' It's Hebrew for 'thank god.' Baruch hashem...is not a question, so it doesn't require an answer."

B'ezrat Hashem or B'esrat Hashem: "With God's help is a similar phrase. The acronym is B"H.... The book Toldot Yitzhak ('he Offspring of Isaac'), by Yitzhak Karo, Yosef Karo's uncle, offers the meaning of this custom of writing (B"H), at the top of every letter, with accordance to the biblical verse: 'In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct thy paths' (Book of Proverbs 3:6)."

"The reason for the common use of the three-letter acronym, (BS"D), is probably because it does not contain the Hebrew letter Hei, that is used to imply the name of God, and for this reason, a page which contains the letters (BS"D) without any other Torah content does not require Genizah (a process for writings that contain the name of God), and thus can be thrown away without a fear of desecration. Other languages, according to Judaism, are not considered the same as the sacred language (Lashon HaKodesh), Hebrew, the language which God created the earth and used to decide how he would be named, therefore has no restriction."

"Besiyata Dishmaya:" Besiyata Dishmaya...is an Aramaic phrase, meaning 'with the help of Heaven'. The acronym BS"D (Mostly written in Hebrew: ??"?) has become a Jewish term amongst several orthodox religious denominations, reproduced at the top of every written document (beginnings of correspondences, students' notes, etc.) as a reminder to them that all comes from God, including the following content and to contextualize what's really important in the text, that without God's help we can do nothing of eternal value. BS"D is not derived from any religious law of the Halakha." (Halakha, Halocho or Halacha is the collective body of Jewish religious laws, including biblical law (the 613 mitzvot) and later talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions.)

Alhamdulillah: The phrase alhamdulillah is open to much interpretation. It is an Arabic phrase which means "Praise to God". Alhamdulillah is used by Arabic speakers, Christians and Jews, as well. It is found in texts of the Qur'an. It was also used by the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The Hebrew word Hallulujah which translates, god be praised, is similar.

"Note: The word 'Allah" is the fusion of the article al (the) and the word ilah (a god, deity). Very much like in English, 'The' article is used here to single out the noun as being the only one of its kind, 'The god' (the one and only) or 'God' with a capital G (the concept of capital letters does not exist in Arabic). Therefore, 'Allah' is the Arabic word for 'God', 'ilah' is the Arabic cognate of the ancient Semitic name for God, El.

It also means that anything in existence to which is ascribed praise, thanks, glorification, or gratitude, is only able to achieve it due to God's infinite mercy and grace.

Alhamdulillah: in theory, it is to be said with a profound sense of love, adoration, and awe of the power, glory, and mercy of God. In practice, however, its use is so widespread in Arabic-speaking countries that it might better be understood as meaning 'thankfully,' 'thank goodness,' or 'thank God' as used in American English. Which is to say that not all Arabic speakers who use the phrase are consciously praising God when they say it.

It not only praises God in general for the above-mentioned qualities, but also seeks to praise Him specifically for those attributes of God's names in Islam, which God did not necessarily have as omnipotent (such as all-seeing, all-hearing), but rather chose to have out of His mercy (the Loving (Al-Wadud), the Beneficent (Ar-Rahman)) and showering Grace upon His servants."

"Insha'Allah: is Arabic for 'God willing' or 'if Allah wills'. The term is used in the Islamic world, but it is also common in Christian groups in the Middle East, in parts of Africa and by some Portuguese and Spanish-speaking people."

Other Articles and Galleries on our Israel Trip:
Israel Travel Part I
Travel Israel Part II
Israel Trip/Private Guide Graeme Stone
Kafr Bir'im, Kafar Bir'em, Kefr Berem and Kfar Bar'am/Israel/Graeme Stone
Shtreimel, Israel, Graeme Stone
Israel Signs
Tekoa, Gush Etzion/Jerusalem, Graeme Stone, horse-back-riding, settlements Israel

Picture Galleries:
Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre or the Church of the Resurrection by Eastern Christians
Many Faces of Israel

For More Information:

MiYodeya
Halakha
Genizah

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