I frequently hear someone mention an unfortunate event and append "רחמנא לצלן / may God roast us". Seems like an odd request, especially in that context. Why are we asking God to roast us?

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לצלן is an idiomatic translation the english verb to bake, as לאפות doesn't sound quite as funny here. So building off Gershon, we're actually saying "A pity he's baked" (ie. high on cannabis).

  • 1
    Alternately, "May the Merciful one let him be baked" – Noach MiFrankfurt Mar 17 '16 at 13:49

No, you're confused. צלה in Hebrew means "roast", but in Aramaic it means "pray". We're asking God to pray for us.

Let me explain.

We know that God is mints: Psalms 33:15 refers to Him as הַיֹּצֵר יַחַד לִבָּם, the mints along with their (earth-dwellers') heart. Not only that, but He was mints first, before anything else (l'havdil) was; as the Rambam (Y'sode Hatora 1:1) says, He is שם מצוי ראשון והוא ממציא, a first-existing thing and He is mints.

And what do we know about the One that is mints first?

The g'mara (Baba Maysa 92 amud 1) says that כל המבקש רחמים על חברו… הוא נענע תחילה, the One who is mint first — He prays for His friend.

That's why we want God to pray for us.


Rachmana does not translate as God. Rachmana translates as "A Pity". Thus the meaning is "A pity he is roasted".


I'm not sure if you are old enough to recall the Dean Martin comedy roasts that were viewed on TV a few times a year during the 70's and I think 80's, as well.

Don Rickles, a Jew, was roasted several times. He adored it! Why would a Jew like Don Rickles want to be roasted? A few reasons:

  • You have to be a good sport. Don Rickles insulted and roasted others constatntly. It's only fair that he be roasted, too. We can learn from his example.
  • Being roasted gets you money and fame. What Jew wouldn't want that?
  • It is a mitzvah to be constantly happy. During Adar, esp. one should increase happiness. Thus, when we are roasted, we make others laugh, and, we can laugh at ourselves too, therby increasing our happiness.

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