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On Rosh Hashana night, it is customary to greet one another with "לשנה טובה תכתב (ותחתם)‏" (Rama 582:9, MB). People (in my experience) and machzorim (Rosh Hashana prayer books) treat this as formulaic, with no variation from the specified text. (Specific customs vary, with, e.g., some adding "לאלתר לחיים טובים ולשלום", but whatever custom people may have, they stick to it, rather than saying wholly different things like the suggestions below.) It's so formulaic that some people (purposely) don't even decline the verbs for number and gender.

  • Is it correct to treat the greeting as an immutable formula, the way people and machzorim do? (E.g., is that how we should read the Rama?) Sources, please.

And if it's correct (or correct according to some sources), then:

  • Why is there such a formulaic greeting? Why not use whatever other wording we may think of, like "לשנה טובה ומתוקה תכתב ותחתם" or "תכתב בספר החיים" or "תכתב ותחתם לשנה טובה"?
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I have seen mainstream Maḥzorim alter the text depending on number/gender. –  Seth J Sep 28 '11 at 17:44
    
@SethJ: Yes, certainly. I mentioned that "some people (purposely) don't even decline the verbs for number and gender", but, yes, many do. –  msh210 Sep 28 '11 at 18:36
    
I always hear (תכתבו (ותחתמו is that not typical? –  Daniel Sep 4 '13 at 16:39
    
@Daniel It is if you like to stand in groups –  Double AA Sep 4 '13 at 17:10
    
@DoubleAA I know it's the plural form, but I think I've heard it even when it was just being addressed to one person. –  Daniel Sep 4 '13 at 20:16
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1 Answer 1

This most common formula is based on the Mateh Efraim. However there are other formulas in the Mishna Berura, Chayai Adam, and other Seforim. The main thing is to wish your fellow congrgants and friends with a full heart.

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