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Right before my grandfather went away to fight in WWII, a rabbi in Munkács (מונקאטש) gave him a small cloth container that had a piece of parchment in it, as a kind of amulet. The piece of paper has Hebrew lettering on it that seems like it is some kind of acronym. My grandfather died 15 years ago and didn't leave us with any record of what it meant (if he even knew). My grandmother is 88 and doesn't know what it stands for. Does anyone know what this means? Here's a picture of it -- it is about 1/3 the size of a playing card.

amulet (link: http://imgur.com/1OhNi)

Some work on this mystery has already started over at reddit.

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I guess the amulet worked :). –  Dave Nov 4 '11 at 18:33
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Jake, welcome to Judaism.SE, and thanks very much for bringing your question here! Please consider registering your account, to give you access to more of the site's features and to help the site keep track of your material. –  Isaac Moses Nov 4 '11 at 19:56
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I'm guessing he meant here: mekubal.wordpress.com –  avi Nov 5 '11 at 16:13
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What was your grandfather's Hebrew name? –  zaq Nov 6 '11 at 14:40
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Wow- thanks for all of the responses. I know the photo is not the best -- unfortunately, it's at my parents house, and I won't be there for a week or two, but I will take a better photo as soon as I am there. My grandfather's hebrew name was Yitzchak Yoseph. –  Jake Nov 8 '11 at 18:44

2 Answers 2

My digital forensic analysis (levels adjustment):

I'm not certain about the last letters, but I'm sure there is a small צ (between the ח and first צ) and a descender under the first letter. The descender could have resulted from having been folded against the first letter, but there is no evidence of other letters transferring.

ץאא חצצ’'צ בוריץ

Maybe the חצ"צ stands for : חילי צבא צ'כוסלובקיה (The Soldiers of the Army of Czechoslovakia or a Soldier in the Army of Czechoslovakia)

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But according to your reconstruction, it's not חצ״צ but חצצ״צ. (Also, was the "צ׳" used in that time and place for the sound /tʃ/?) –  msh210 Nov 8 '11 at 17:07
    
I know, I'm not sure how to handle the small צ. maybe it's there for gematria, maybe it has another meaning. It's possible the second " is also a small צ, but I cant be sure without a better photo. –  zaq Nov 8 '11 at 17:23
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The possibility that it stands for חילי צבא צ'כוסלובקיה is interesting -- my grandfather fought in the czechoslovakian unit of the british foreign legion. –  Jake Nov 8 '11 at 18:50
    
I'm not convinced that there is another צ where you say there is. If it were there, it would be on top of the " and that just wouldn't make sense. It also loos like it could be a product of the fold. Also, the first letter (furthest to the right) looks much more like a ~ with a leg (single-legged pi? some other mathematical symbol? practice? maybe something akin to a pilcrow?) than it does a ץ. Just my two cents, FWIW. –  Seth J Nov 8 '11 at 19:15
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@SethJ, a tilde with a leg can be a Greek lowercase tau. (But I don't think the thing looks like a tilde with a leg, myself.) –  msh210 Nov 10 '11 at 0:44

This is sort of a comment on the question and on other answers but has some ideas for the resolution of the question also, so I'm posting it as an answer.

  1. I'm not at all convinced that the first thing is a final tzadi. First of all, it seems to lack the three tagin. Second, the tail could be a smudge from having been folded against another letter. (Note that it's right opposite the leftmost letter when the paper is folded in half, as it was.) Yod vav seems plausible, as does, perhaps, just vav (with the apparent yod just an ink transference), or even nothing at all (all an ink transference). Note that if the paper was folded immediately after it as written, the last letter written (presumably the leftmost letter) would have smudged most. If we assume that first thing is a smudge, there may still be a yod or two hidden under it.
  2. The first apparent double-apostrophe is very high in the line, much higher than the apparently second double-apostrophe. So I suspect it's not a double-apostrophe at all, or not of the same ilk as the second one. Perhaps the first one is meant as an end-of-truncation mark (IIRC I've seen people use double-apostrophes for this) whereas the second one is meant as a middle-of-initialism mark. Or maybe the first one is a smudge (but not likely, as there's nothing opposite it across the fold). Or something else.
  3. The ches has a very nice long tag whereas the bes does not. It otherwise looks very much like a bes, but the possibility that it's a kaf may possibly be worth exploring.
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@2) it could just be a smudge from the neck of the second tsade. –  zaq Nov 8 '11 at 18:41
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I'm sorry for not having a better resolution photo-- I'm going to take a better one when I am home in a week or two. There are definitely smudges -- he carried this with him throughout the entire war, so it is in pretty good condition, all considered! –  Jake Nov 8 '11 at 18:48

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