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The most common responses I've heard to a wish of "l'chayim!" ("life!") is

  • "l'chayim tovim ulshalom" ("a good life and peace!") except from Lubavitch chasidim and
  • "l'chayim v'livracha" ("life and blessing!") from Lubavitch chasidim.

What is the provenance of and reason for each of these turns of phrase?

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Inspired by meta.judaism.stackexchange.com/q/1134. – msh210 Jun 3 '12 at 19:21
Where does the whole "l'chayim!" thing come from in the first place? – jake Jun 3 '12 at 20:41
@jake judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/ask – msh210 Jun 3 '12 at 20:44
The Taamei Haminhagim records that the Chasam Sofer was medayek not to say "L'chaim Tovim" as a response since it is b'gematria "klala". Instead he would say "L'chaim v'l'vracha". Apparently, in his time there was a custom to say only "L'chaim Tovim", without "ul'shalom". However at the top of that page he records the custom of saying "L'chaim Tovim Ul'shalom." – HodofHod Feb 4 '13 at 21:47
related judaism.stackexchange.com/q/33232/759 – Double AA Nov 11 '13 at 18:17
up vote 13 down vote accepted

In general, I wouldn't post just a quote, but it so perfectly addressed the question...

From Hayom Yom (29th of first Adar), written/compiled by the Lubavitcher Rebbe:

In responding to L'chayim there are two versions:

  • L'chayim Tovim Ul'Shalom, "for good life, and for peace." The reason for this blessing is that the first time drinking wine is mentioned in the Torah, there were undesirable results. "Noach began etc."1 also, the Tree of Knowledge was a grapevine.2 Therefore we extend the blessing that this wine be for a good life.
  • The Maggid of Mezritch used to respond L'Chayim VeLivracha. Once at a Farbrengen, the Alter Rebbe responded L'Chayim VeLivracha. After the Farbrengen Chassidim discussed this expression, which they heard then for the first time.

One chassid proposed: Since "When wine enters, the secret comes out,"3 which in Avoda signifies that the emotions are revealed, we need a B'racha for this; the expression is L'Chayim VeLivracha, and "Livracha" may be read, Leiv Raka, a sensitive heart.

The Tzemach Tzedek commented: Such an interpretation could be proposed only by a Chassid who has Davened and labored in Avoda for thirty years.

1: Also translated as "Noach corrupted himself" or "profaned himself" or "degraded himself." Bereishit 9:20.
2: See Tikunei Zohar, Tikun 24.
3: Eiruvin 65a.

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If you wanted an authoritative answer...... you got it! – HodofHod Jun 3 '12 at 19:56
Many thanks! +1 (and most likely, eventually, the checkmark). This answers my question completely except as to the provenance of l'chayim tovim ulshalom. – msh210 Jun 4 '12 at 7:42
@msh210 I assume you're referring to the provenance of using that phrase for this purpose? Because the phrase itself is common in things like davening, and the reason for using such a phrase are explained by the Rebbe. – HodofHod Feb 4 '13 at 21:14
Yes, for this purpose. – msh210 Feb 4 '13 at 21:15

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