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I thought that שליט"א came from the Aramaic word שליט (Ruler). But a Rabbi I told this to, pointed out that שליט"א is always written as with " , in the Middle so each the letters must stand for something. (But he didn't know what it stood for.)
Does anyone know If and What does שליט"א does stand for?

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For what it's worth, the Otzar of Roshei Teivot on Bar Ilan lists both שיחיה לאורך ימים טובים ארוכים and שיחיה לאורך ימים טובים אמן. I prefer the latter, because the former is redundant, as pointed out by @DoubleAA in a comment above.

However, the best evidence one could have in this situation is to see if this phrase was ever written out in full form. In searching for various forms of the expanded words, I was unable to find any one who wished another person "שיחיה לאורך ימים טובים ארוכים" in a full written form. I was, however, able to find a significant authority who blessed people "שיחיה לאורך ימים טובים אמן" in full written form. Rav David Zvi Hoffman (Shu"t Melamed Leho'il 2:127) writes:

ואחר כל אלה הדברים גם אני מסכים עם כבוד מעלתו שמצוה על קהלתו להבדל ולהפרש מחברת המדיחים האלה ולהשתדל לקנות בית הקברות מיוחד בעד היראים שיחיו לארך ימים טובים אמן.  

I feel this is the closest you can get to a "proof" or "source" one way or another, and I leave it in the hands of the voters.

See also https://judaism.codidact.com/posts/280012 with the comments there.

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  • RDZH lived about 150 years ago, but the acronym has been around for centuries. An earlier source would be better...
    – Double AA
    Jan 22 '21 at 16:35
  • I agree, but I couldn't find one. As an aside, how many centuries has it been popularly used for, as opposed to other blessings (such as שיחיה לאורך ימים שונים), or other similar phrases? @DoubleAA Jan 22 '21 at 17:00
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    judaism.stackexchange.com/a/30999/759
    – Double AA
    Jan 22 '21 at 17:23
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    @רבות מחשבות A belated Thank You! Is in order. Just as you said I found שליט"א it spelled out in R. Dovid Hoffman's תשובות. This is the best proof.
    – Sochacz
    Feb 2 '21 at 2:59
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    @Sochaz thanks, glad to hear it answered your question! Feb 2 '21 at 3:44
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שיחיה לאורך ימים טובים ארוכים

Who should live for a length of many good days.

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  • לאורך ארוכים?? seems quite redundant
    – Double AA
    Jan 22 '21 at 2:05
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    Yeah, I had that observation when I was trying to translate it. Maybe it's something along the lines of וְאַבְרָהָ֣ם זָקֵ֔ן בָּ֖א בַּיָּמִ֑ים.
    – The GRAPKE
    Jan 22 '21 at 2:26
  • why would an acronym have a hey if the final word begins with an aleph?
    – rosends
    Jan 22 '21 at 2:37
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    @rosends Have never seen this with a heh. Refer he.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D7%A9%D7%9C%D7%99%D7%98%22%D7%90
    – The GRAPKE
    Jan 22 '21 at 2:50
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    Pretty sure the א at the end stands for אמן
    – Shimon bM
    Jan 22 '21 at 7:43
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The expansion by theGRAPKE for שליט״א as:

שיחיה לאורך ימים טובים ארוכים

is traditionally translated as:

that (they, meaning the person named preceding the abbreviation) will live for (meaning, according to) Your Light (Your light, means G-d's light), good, long days.

לאורך is actually a noun with a Kametz beneath the Lamed. This implies that the word for Your Light is preceded by the Indicative Heh, as in האור. It is the known light mentioned in the Torah in Bereshit 1:4 which says:

וַיַּ֧רְא אֱלֹהִ֛ים אֶת־הָא֖וֹר כִּי־ט֑וֹב וַיַּבְדֵּ֣ל אֱלֹהִ֔ים בֵּ֥ין הָא֖וֹר וּבֵ֥ין הַחֹֽשֶׁךְ׃

In this posuk, it also associates this light specifically with the concept of good. (וַיַּ֧רְא אֱלֹהִ֛ים אֶת־הָא֖וֹר כִּי־ט֑וֹב). That טוב (good) is actually a reference to another of G-d's names (אהוה), which has an equivalent numerical value.

And this follows the explanation of the commentary, Ba'al HaTurim HaShalem there which states:

את האור. בגימטריא בתורה ועולה מנין תרי״ג

That The Light (את-האור) has the numerical value to in the Torah (בתורה) and adds up to 613 (The number of commandments given to the Jewish people by G-d).

That the light being referred to in this utterance from Creation is the enumeration of the 613 commandments contained within the Torah. It is through fulfilling them that G-d's presence is revealed in the world (in the entire universe).

That the commandments are called paths (נתיבות), similar to the expression used for the first section to Shulchan Aruch, namely אורח חיים, the Way (or Path) of Life.

And this is in keeping with what we recite when returning the Sefer Torah to the Aron Kodesh after reading it:

וכל נתיבותיה שלום, ארך ימים בימינה כו׳

All its (the Torah's) paths are peace, length of days pertains to its right, etc.

It should also be pointed out that while in the phrase said when returning the Torah, the word length (ארך) is a noun, in the phrase brought by theGRAPKE it is used as an adjective, modifying the noun, days (ימים). It is for this reason that it appears in number agreement as ימים טובים ארוכים.

This plural form of טוב indicates the various expansions of G-d's name (אהוה), namely the expansions of 144, 153 and 155 which all pertain to specific concepts within G-d's creation.

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    Thanks for posting here. However, wouldn't it make more sense to write שיחיה לאור ה' ימים טובים ארוכים? Isn't Shlit"a used to address an individual directly, in which case "you" would be the person you are addressing? Dec 28 '21 at 3:32
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Sheyikhye Le'orech Yamim Tovim Amen (per wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honorifics_in_Judaism#:~:text='Shlit%22a'%20(or,someone's%20child's%20Rebbe%20(teacher).)

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As a child until today I've always read it as:
שיחי' לימים טובים ארוכים

...which would clarify the above confusion.

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  • Why does one of the words get two letters of the acronym? Dec 28 '21 at 19:44
  • So you don’t follow the traditional teaching concerning Notarikon that each letter in the abbreviation represents a single word? Dec 29 '21 at 12:02
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    Well, anytime there is a modifier To, from, etc. The first letter doesn't count and can be added to the roshei teivos. I've seen this many times.
    – Reuven D.
    Dec 29 '21 at 20:03
  • ...and I did mention this as a childish idiom kept into adulthood.
    – Reuven D.
    Dec 29 '21 at 20:37
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The aramaic etymology is correct but because of the folk etymology (as other have given) it is almost universally spelled with ".

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    Hi How do you know this?
    – Double AA
    Dec 27 '21 at 17:08
  • A very good indication is that no one ever wrote it out in full before it became popular, no one is certain for what it stands (all suggestions are awkward and obviously backformed), and it looks exactly like a completely standard Aramaic honorific.
    – user25970
    Dec 28 '21 at 20:19
  • I would add also that the Rema is apparently the first to use שלי"ט as a Hebrew honorific (no א in the first edition). However, the first printing is posthumous (1578) and I don't know of anything in his own hand. On the other hand, his contemporary Azariah de Rossi refers to a couple of people as שליט in the Meor Einayim, in manuscript, including the Rema, and never uses a gershayim.
    – user25970
    Dec 28 '21 at 21:00

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