The other day, a friend and reader of this blog – a woman who watched me grow up – lost her husband, Roni Yelloz. Her sons, with whom I grew up, lost their father.
To Eva, Marc, Joe and Gabi, my heart goes out to you.
The Hebrew word for condolences is תַּנְחוּמִים (tahn-khoo-MEEM). The root is נ.ח.מ (n.kh.m), the concept of comfort.
The word and its root ring up associations of the Jewish exiles from Jerusalem in the sixth century BCE and the first century CE… as well as subsequent redemption.
In a Shiva house (the word שִׁבְעָה – sheev-AH – refers to the seven days of intense mourning), the traditional statement of תנחומים made by Ashkenazi Jews is the following:
הַמָּקוֹם יְנַחֵם אֶתְכֶם בְּתוֹך שְׁאַר אֲבֵלֵי צִיּוֹן וִירוּשָלַיִם
May G-d (the Space) comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
(hah-mah-KOHM yeh-nah-KHEM et-KHEM beh-TOHKH sheh-AHR ah-veh-LEH-ee tsee-YOHN vee-roo-shah-LAH-yeem)
The traditional statement made by Sephardic Jews is:
מִן הַשָּׁמַיִם תְּנֻחָמו
May you be comforted from above.
(meen hah-shah-MAH-yeem teh-noo-KHAH-moo)