Why don't we use plural "TOVOT" in New Years greeting for ketivah ve-hatimah (writing and sealing) tovot?

  • 3
    I suspect this is more of a grammatical question thn one related to religion. – rosends Sep 13 '15 at 1:41
  • As a near-native speaker of [Israeli] Hebrew, "Ketivah va-Chatimah Tovot" as a greeting (as opposed to saying "Ketivah va-Chatimah [Hen] Tovot", "inscribing and sealing are good", as a statement of fact) sounds somehow wrong to me. – Tamir Evan Sep 13 '15 at 13:55
  • See also judaism.stackexchange.com/q/20382 – msh210 Sep 27 '16 at 14:23

There is only one decree.

It is first written (ketivah - Rosh HaShana) and then sealed (chatimah - Yom Kippur).

  • 1
    No decree is mentioned in the blessing, and the the Tovah is referring to the Ketivah and Chatimah which are. – Tamir Evan Sep 13 '15 at 11:40
  • From the text of ובספר חיים ברכה ושלום ופרנסה טובה ישועה ונחמה וגזירות טובות it seems that we get a decree in each of the above books. – intuit Sep 17 '15 at 15:42

In the Mishneh Torah, Hilkhot Teshuvah 3:6[3], it says

ו[ג] ... שוקלין עוונות כל אחד ואחד מבאי העולם עם זכייותיו ביום טוב של ראש השנה: מי שנמצא צדיק, נחתם לחיים; ומי שנמצא רשע, נחתם למיתה. והבינוני, תולין לו עד יום הכיפורים: אם עשה תשובה, נחתם לחיים; ואם לאו, נחתם למיתה.‏

In Eliyahu Touger's translation:

... the sins of every inhabitant of the world together with his merits are weighed on the festival of Rosh HaShanah. If one is found righteous, his [verdict] is sealed for life. If one is found wicked, his [verdict] is sealed for death. A Beinoni's verdict remains tentative until Yom Kippur. If he repents, his [verdict] is sealed for life. If not, his [verdict] is sealed for death.

There are three options:

  1. Being [inscribed and] sealed for life on Rosh ha-Shanah.
  2. Being [inscribed and] sealed for death on Rosh ha-Shanah.
  3. Being [inscribed but] not sealed [for life or death] on Rosh ha-Shanah, and [re-inscribed, if needed, and] sealed on Yom Kippur.

The blessing is for the first option to happen. "Tovah" is in the singular, because the inscribing and sealing of good verdict that we're hoping for is done in one action. (We're hoping for the verdict to be sealed already on Rosh ha-Shanah, not to be inscribed for life on Rosh ha-Shanah, and have to wait till Yom Kippur to have it sealed.) In fact, the Mishneh Torah only mentions one action ever being done (i.e. the sealing of the verdict).

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