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I have been trying to understand the various commentaries on ריח ניחוח. I was curious of the Unkulus translation, which I see to be:

"לְאִתְקַבָּלָא בְּרַעֲוָא קֳדָם יְיָ"

I am curious if anyone has a translation of בְּרַעֲוָא or examples of it used in other contexts. Does it offer a better interpretation of the word ניחוח than the traditional English translation of "pleasant smell?"

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    I believe Onkelos bases his translation on the understanding of the last mishna in Menachos Commented Mar 18, 2018 at 21:58

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Shemos 28 (38)

וְהָיָה֘ עַל־מֵ֣צַח אַֽהֲרֹן֒ וְנָשָׂ֨א אַֽהֲרֹ֜ן אֶת־עֲוֹ֣ן הַקֳּדָשִׁ֗ים אֲשֶׁ֤ר יַקְדִּ֨ישׁוּ֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל לְכָל־מַתְּנֹ֖ת קָדְשֵׁיהֶ֑ם וְהָיָ֤ה עַל־מִצְחוֹ֙ תָּמִ֔יד לְרָצ֥וֹן לָהֶ֖ם לִפְנֵ֥י יְהֹוָֽה:

It shall be upon Aaron's forehead, and Aaron shall bear the iniquity of the holy things that the children of Israel sanctify, for all their holy gifts. It shall be upon his forehead constantly to make them favorable before the Lord.

לְרָצ֖וֹן is translated into English as “ favorable” and Aramaic (Onkelos) as “לרַעֲוָא"

Vayikro 22 (20)

כֹּ֛ל אֲשֶׁר־בּ֥וֹ מ֖וּם לֹ֣א תַקְרִ֑יבוּ כִּי־לֹ֥א לְרָצ֖וֹן יִֽהְיֶ֥ה לָכֶֽם:

Any [animal] that has a blemish, you shall not offer up, for it will not be favorable for you.

לְרָצ֖וֹן is translated into English as “ favorable” and Aramaic (Onkelos) as “לרַעֲוָא"

So I suggest that "לְאִתְקַבָּלָא בְּרַעֲוָא קֳדָם יְיָ" should be translated into English as “to be accepted in favor before Hashem”.

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  • Indeed, the word is a cognate. Meaning it is the very same word. The ע of Aramaic often parallels the צ of Hebrew. For instance, in the very first pasuk of the Torah, הָאָֽרֶץ is translated by Onkelos as אַרְעָא. Commented Mar 20, 2018 at 7:58
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It translates in English as will or pleasure according to Jastrow. He offers Beitza 38a as one example.

When Rabbi Abba ascended from Babylonia to Eretz Yisrael, he said: May it please God that I say a statement of halacha that will be accepted by my listeners in Eretz Yisrael, so that I will not be put to shame.

And Niddah 33b as another.

איכא הכא צורבא מרבנן ורב שמואל שמיה ותני מתניתא יהא רעוא דתהוי כוותיה

May it be G-d’s will that you be like him.

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"The word רעוא is said every Monday, Thursday and Shabbos in the very overlooked prayer of בריך שמה. We say יהא רעוה קדמך דתוריך לן חיין. "Maybe it be your will that you extend our lives.

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