Mazel literally meaning “luck” , “fortune” , “ success.”
MAZEL IS A WISH FOR BOTH A LUCKY STAR AND LUCKY FATE!
Mazel מזל – Word History
מזל Mazel Originates from Biblical Hebrew mazzāl, mazalot (plural) meaning: constellation of stars or “destiny”.
Mazel originally had the literal meaning of “good star/constellation” or what we might better understand as an “auspicious omen”.
Mazel progressed from the original meaning of constellations, to the more general sense of the stars were “in position” at certain times. It progressed from there to a wish – Mazel is good luck.
“Through the influence of astrology, the term came to be associated with a person’s fate… and fortune” (1)
“Mazels” a common slang abbreviation among young Jews; “mazels” is used as short for congratulations.
It is similar to the word “congratulations!” and conveys roughly that “I am pleased this good thing has happened to you!”
Mazel Tov the Meaning
Mazel is literally translated as ” luck”, Mazel Tov the phrase really means “good luck has occurred” or “your fortune has been good” and is an acknowledgement of this fact (i.e., “lucky you”).
The phrase ‘Mazel Tov’ is recorded as entering into American English from Yiddish in 1862.
MaZeL as a Hebrew Acronym
Makom – place, Zman – time, and Lashon – speech.
If you can be in the right place at the right time and say the right thing, that’s Mazel.
Mazel in Prayers
Kiddush Levanah Sanctification of the Moon is a Jewish ritual, in which a series of prayers are recited to bless the new moon.
‘Siman tov u’mazel tov y’hei lanu ud’khol Yisra’el!’
A good omen and a good sign (luck) for us and for all Yisra’el!
Since the prayer is about the moon, perhaps some of the astrological significance of mazal tov is implied.
Mazel in the Bible
- The phrase mazel tov itself first appears in Rashi commentary Bereshit 30:1
- Mazel originally referred to stars and their positions “constellation” or “destiny” – the zodiac constellations are called mazalot in Melachim II/Kings 2 23:5
- The Talmud talks about the influence of the stars (Shabbat 156a & Moed Katan 28a)
- Tiferet Yisrael commentary to mishna kiddushin 4:10 for a discussion
- Rashi commentary Shabbos 53b a persons mazel is his angel
- “The midrash says “ Everyone and everything needs mazel, even the Sefer Torah in the Ark.” The simple understanding of this is that there often numerous Sifrei Torah in a shul, but not all of them are “lucky” enough to be read from regularly. “
- Dictionary of Jewish Usage: A Guide to the Use of Jewish Terms, by Sol Steinmetz (Lanham, MD, 2005)