Take the 2-minute tour ×
Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

When we wish one another during the Aseres Yemei Teshuva "Gmar Chasima Tova" what does it mean? Does it not depend on what is written in the document? What difference does it make if the seal is good if the document is no good?

share|improve this question
will you accept an answer? –  BF4 Nov 13 '12 at 19:46
@BF4: If I like one then I will accept it. –  Gershon Gold Nov 13 '12 at 19:50
Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/20382 –  msh210 Aug 20 '13 at 7:14

3 Answers 3

I'm sure others can give more in-depth answers but I believe this is the basic meaning: We say

בראש השנה יכתבון וביום צום כיפור יחתמון

Meaning, On Rosh Hashana our fate is written and on Yom Kippur our fate is sealed. Saying to someone "Gmar Chasima Tova" is simply wishing them that the fate that is sealed for them is a good one.

For more information check here look for the words "On Rosh Hashanah will be inscribed and on Yom Kippur will be sealed"

גמר חתימה טובה :)

share|improve this answer
This does not answer the question, as if what was written Rosh HaShana was no good, how is it going to help if the sealing is good??? –  Gershon Gold Sep 24 '12 at 13:46
Until your fate is sealed, what is written can be changed. which is why the concluding service on Yom Kippur - Ne'ila is so important. That is the moment when what is written is sealed. Until that moment what is written can be changed for the better. –  adinas Sep 24 '12 at 13:48
adinas, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks very much for contributing an answer to this question! Please consider editing your explanatory comment into your answer. Gemar Chatima Tova! –  Isaac Moses Sep 24 '12 at 13:49
So you are saying that the wish is that the writing should also be good. Then why do we not say Gmar Ksiva V'Chasima Tova? –  Gershon Gold Sep 24 '12 at 13:54
@GershonGold You wouldn't want to imply that the writing needs to be changed. –  Double AA Sep 24 '12 at 13:55

'Gmar Chatima Tova גמר חתימה טובה' is essentially wishing that someone being written (rosh hashana) and sealed (yom kippur) in the book of life. Gmar Chatima is an idiom for the sealing of the judgement, and tova, is that it should be a good judgement. You can also just say 'Gmar tov גמר טוב'

also see http://www.balashon.com/2006/09/gmar.html or http://www.learnhebrew.org.il/print/gmar.htm

share|improve this answer
  1. Maybe it's because every Jew has a chezkas kashrus, so we assume he had a good writing.

  2. Alternatively, you can change your writing during the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah, and even on Yom Kipur — otherwise, why would we still say in Avinu Malkeinu "כתבנו לחיים טובים," and similar things; and even בספר חיים ברכה ושלום נזכר ונכתב לפניך of the Shmoneh Esreh. (Of course, that would bring up the question of why we don't say לשנה טובה תכתב during these days as well, but maybe the first answer solves that.)

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.