Whether people are referring to רבינו בחיי בן אשר or רבינו בחיי אבן פקודה, you will always find people who pronounce their names as either Bachya or Bechaye (Even Wikipedia uses both!). Is there any source which indicates which version is the correct pronunciation, or perhaps a third possibility? To me it seems as though Bechaye would be the correct pronunciation, based on the spelling of the word (such as ובחיי דכל בית ישראל in the Kaddish), but I have yet to see anyone clearly express how to correctly pronounce it.

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    If only for purposes of clarity (rather than technical accuracy), I often hear people say R' Bachya for ר' בחיי אבן פקודה, and R' Bechaye for רבינו בחיי בן אשר.
    – Fred
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 2:34
  • Not sure how universal that is. I have a teacher who refers to Ben Asher as Rabbeinu Bachya. But I'm certainly willing to hear sourced differences between the two of them.
    – Chaim
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 2:42
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    I've certainly heard both of them referred to as R' Bachya, as well, but I rarely hear ר' בחיי אבן פקודה referred to as Rabbeinu Bechaye.
    – Fred
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 3:10
  • @Fred Rabbi Eyal 'Amrami, in his 52-part shi'ur series on Sha'ar HaBitahhon refers to the author as Rabbe'inu Behhaye.
    – Lee
    Commented May 21, 2016 at 21:31

2 Answers 2


In the introduction of the Chovot Halevavot published by Mosad Harav Kook, he brings that it is not known how to pronounce the name. He says that Ashkenazim pronounce it Bechaye, and Sefardim pronounce it Bachye.

See there for some other opinions and rationals as well.


R. Reuven Margalios in his פנינים ומרגליות has a note on this name. His theory is that it is not an actual name, but a nickname which means "may he live long," like the (Yiddish) name "Alter." He proves that it is not a real name because in a manuscript of Kad ha-Kemach, the author is listed as R. Yehuda. According to this, it would presumably be pronounced "Bechaye," since it is a word meaning "with life." The Hebrew Wikipedia entry also quotes a scholar who supports this pronunciation, as it is likely a shortened form of "Bechaye'el."

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    very interesting, I would love to see that manuscript. All the editions on Hebrewbooks.org just say רבינו בחיי. And for the sake of clarity, the scholar you quoted is the author of the Chovot HaLevavot edition published by Mossad Harav Kook, which was referenced to in the answer by Menachem.
    – Chaim
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 12:50

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