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We asked here about writing either ב"ה or בס"ד on the top of a letter. In the question it was assumed that ב"ה stands for Boruch Hashem.

Do we have a source that ב"ה actually stands for Boruch Hashem?

That's what I was taught in school, but it always seemed strange to me that we write B'siyata D'shamya (with the help of heaven) in Aramaic, and Boruch Hashem (bless G-d) in Hebrew. It made more sense to me that it stands for B'Ezrat Hashem (with the help of G-d), as CBO1 answered, since that way the Hebrew and Aramaic match up.

Also, I've seen English letters that start "By the Grace of G-d" (such as this one), which also matches the theme of B'Siyata D'Shmaya and B'Ezrat Hashem.

[I guess you could argue that Grace can mean "blessing", such as in Grace After Meals. But that would still be closer to B'Ezrat Hashem than to Boruch Hashem, since you would be saying "By the Grace of G-d" means "with G-d's Blessing", as opposed to Boruch Hashem, which means "bless G-d".

It makes more straightforward to translate Grace in this context as "favor, or good will", than to translate it as "blessing"]

According to Wikipedia, The book "Toldot Yitzhak" (‘The Offspring of Isaac’), by Yitzhak Karo, Yosef Karo's uncle, offers the meaning of this custom of writing ב"ה (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)

This seems to be a proof that ב"ה stands for Boruch Hashem, since we acknowledge G-d by thanking him, but I could argue that recognizing that everything comes with G-d's help is also acknowledging Him.

Also, R' Yitzchok Karo may very well be saying that ב"ה stands for בשם ה׳. See here and Alex's note below. Also, Alex points out here that the Rambam would also start sections of his works with בשם ה' א-ל עולם


Update:

I recently came across a letter from the Lubavitcher Rebbe to the Rogatchover Gaon, that may be addressing this issue.

In the letter, Rebbe is asking for a source for putting ב"ה and בעז"ה in a letter, especially since it seems that the Gemara may indicate the opposite. However, it is unclear to me if the Rebbe is asking about putting it in the body of the letter or at the top of the letter.

So it is possible that the Rebbe was looking for a source for this as well. Also the Rebbe writes ב"ה and בעז"ה separately, so this might be a proof that ב"ה actually stands for Boruch Hashem.

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It's in Parshas Metzora: ולכן נהגו בהתחלת כל כתיבה לכתוב ב"ה שנ׳ בכל דרכיך דעהו. (The edition you linked to is missing this page.) A few lines earlier, though, he says that the idea is שבכל הדברים שנעשה צריך להזכיר בתחלתם שיהיה לשם ה׳ - which makes it sound like his expansion of ב"ה is in fact בשם ה׳ rather than בעזרת ה׳ or ברוך ה׳. –  Alex Jun 5 '11 at 3:21
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@Alex: This fits with the Rambam starting his works with בשם ה' א-ל עולם (as you mention in the other thread). Also, it appears that the version you quote may be slightly different than the version you linked to, since it says "V'chain Tzarich Mi Shematchil Shum Melacha Lehazkir Sh'le'Avodat Hashem Yitbarech Osseh." –  Menachem Jun 5 '11 at 3:49
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the sentence I quoted is on line 9 in this edition. The one you're quoting is on line 15. –  Alex Jun 5 '11 at 4:11
    
@Alex: I see it now, thanks. –  Menachem Jun 5 '11 at 4:26
    
Re "the Rebbe writes ב"ה and בעז"ה separately, so this might be a proof that ב"ה actually stands for Boruch Hashem": he may have meant the abbreviations. –  msh210 Jun 14 '11 at 2:58
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1 Answer 1

BS"D (or בס״ד) stands for B'sayata d'shmaya, which translates to "with the help of heaven."

B"H (or ב״ה) used in the same context at the top of the page stands for B'ezrat Hashem, which translates to "with God's help."

בס״ד is the Aramaic version, ב״ה is the hebrew version, and they mean exactly the same thing.

It may be that in other contexts, ב״ה means baruch hashem, but at the top of a page it means b'ezrat hashem.

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Makes sense to me, but do you have a source for this? That's what I'm looking for. –  Menachem Jun 5 '11 at 23:21
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