Solely In Black and White: The Ire of “Im Yirtza Hashem by You”

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Ire of “Im Yirtza Hashem by You”

I am starting to wonder if I owe a few people apologies. I never thought wishing someone the “Im yirtza Hashem by you” (IyH) would get me in trouble. According to folklore, it is the female who abhors the IyH. Some have even threatened violence against any sympathetic well wishers. Others, such as FrumSatire, have proposed a slightly more “civil,” but perhaps less couth idea, such as this t-shirt. Yes, it’s crude, but I’m sure it works; how could it not? I’m not saying I know why this happens, both why people say it and why people get offended but it’s a fascinating phenomenon. Perhaps it has something to do with shidduchim being harder for girls, as our expert panel of females have decided in yesterdays post.

The odd thing is, as I learned the hard way: guys don’t like the IyH so much either. The responses weren’t as exciting as one would expect them to be. Needless to say my nose remained untouched and I am not wearing an Irish eye patch, but I got some dirty looks and long ums… And here I thought Vorts where supposed to be fun events… Oh, wait, scratch that. I don’t think anyone likes Vorts, especially singles. Add an IyH to the mix, combined with an overall happy smile, and you’re just asking for trouble. Also, it’s super awkward when you tell it someone who isn’t “interested in getting married at the moment” something along the lines of may you find the right one soon. Let’s just say that didn’t go over so well…:-( B”H on the guy’s side we have some bottles of “L’Chaim” to rectify these little gaffs, because the IyH made on liquor is protect by some mystic unspoken binding covenant. o:) But it must be terrible for the girls. What do you say? “Can I offer you some chocolate, cookies, or cake?” Now, please don’t punch me…. 8-|

Look, I know what it’s like. I’ve gotten my fair-share of IyH, but can’t one just smile and move on, no harm no foul. That is unless you want to stoop to their level and retort in an equally saccharine flavored response, “thank you, but do you accept Kvitelach?”:-o That would be partially justified, and slightly amusing. I think it’s a tad immature to get angry and/or sulk every time someone wishes you well, esepcialy if said phrase is an accepted social norm. Just imagine what would happen if people had the same response for “have a nice day.” People would be walking around shouting “NO, I choose not to exercise my right to have a nice day; now bug off!” :-( Now THAT would be comical… :-P

In the interim I have started asking people: “is it alright if I wish you an ‘IyH by you?’” Now that has thrown most people off guard. But I don’t think that is a viable long-term solution. Alright, let us make a compromise; or perhaps let us devise a better solution. What can engaged/married people say instead of IyH by you in order to lessen the animosity? Also, or perhaps more importantly, is one ever justified in saying “IyH by you?”


  1. I don't know. I've been trying to work this out myself. I think that I've taken to saying "I hope to come to your vort soon," but I think that's just as bad or worse. Sometimes, when people wish me mazel tov, especially older singles, I just say thank you and leave it at that. My father says something along the lines of "May we share in many more simchas" without specifying what kind of simcha.

    All this said, I don't think there's any right way to go. Some people will take offense no matter what you say. We just have to do what we can to minimize the hurt.

  2. I wonder if 12 year olds get offended when they are at a bar mitzva of a friend and the bar mitzva kid says "I can't wait for yours!".

  3. Yehuda-lol that is a funny thought

    in general it doesn't bother me when people use the iyH by you line..they are wishing you well and truly want yout happiness. I think so anyways. There are always those relatives who at every simcha shower you with brachot that next by your simcha with your husband and kids soon..its just part of the mentality and i think its not such a big deal- singles suck it mature and thank people for the bracha they want to share with you (its all abt the kavannah)

  4. 12 year olds know when their birthday is. Single individuals don't know their future anniversary. But I have a metaphor to counter: would you say to a childless couple "Imy by you" at a bris? I think we can all agree that that's tactless.

    You said why can't people accept it graciously. Who is the salutation for, you or them? If there seems to be a pattern forming, and people are looking upset, then you can't demand that they should accept it with joy in their heart.

    What do you say to a married person? I'm sure they also wish you mazel tov.

    Aminspiration said it's about the kavana. It depends who says it. If I know that person cares for me and wishes me well, then it hurts a little less.

    In the end, enough people are hurt rather than encouraged by it, so let the "bracha" DIE!!!!

  5. Here's the problem: in our society you are not considered a fulfilled person until you are married ("tigadlo letorah, leCHUPA, ulemaasim tovim"). So the single who's been around for a while is considered unfulfilled, i.e. a failure. Despite the good intentions of the one saying it, what he/she hears when told IYHBYT is sympathy for his/her "failing," i.e. "I know you're a loser right now, but hopefully one day you'll make it to the Member's Club."
    As for myself, I don't get that annoyed since I don't consider myself a failure at all; I never bought into that notion. I get a little annoyed with the fact that they think I'm a failure, but mostly amused at their perspective.

  6. ishchayill-agreed with the last statement.wheni meet people who feel that the only way to be sonstructive in life is to be married..i feel bad for em and laugh to myself bcz i know that just cuz im not married now doesnt mean that im worthless or useless..

  7. @Data:
    Agreed, a 12 year old is not a good analogy as the timeframe is set, but saying IyHbY by a bris isn’t the same either; at least its semi appropriate to say “may we share in simchas together” as the people involved are at a similar stage in life.

    I am not saying it’s causing a mass revolt. A few people made a comment while a few other people just gave me a strange look. Most of the people I’ve encountered just nod and smile and move on with life. It’s that relatively few, which was slightly larger than a statistical anomaly, but way short of the median, who vehemently are opposed to it. Those people make me wonder….

    A married person would be simple, “may we share in simchas,” or something along those lines. Unless that is also offensive for some reason, yet I see no reason why it would be a problem. In normal contexts, that statement is seemingly neutral.

    As far as the “kavana” aspect goes, I don’t really know, that’s something that might be different for girls and guys. Most of time I’ve said IyHbY, it was used as a closer of sorts, or a replacement for good night or good bye. It’s a seemingly polite way of ending a conversation and moving on to another person without actually being rude. But with regards to kavana, is there a Yehi Ratzon I’m forgetting to say? :-P

    Data, until a viable alternative is found, the bracha will remain…

    See my comment above. I don’t think people think into so much. When you tell other people to have a nice day, are you thinking that they are depressed and need positive reinforcement, because that’s what wrong with society nowadays?! People might be overly sympathetic to singles in a slightly demeaning way, but I doubt the IyHbY is laced with thoughts of failure.

  8. Why does it need to be wished to others in the first place? Everyone knows that saying it makes people upset. Wish it quietly and move on. I don't think I said it at all when I was engaged. Those who I said it to, I said it to in a bracha without using those 5 dreaded words.
    The gracious thing to do is accept peoples mazal tovs and well wishes with a smile and move on.

  9. I never cared for the Iy"h by you line when I was single. It promotes bad grammar, for one thing. For another, it connotes smugness at having arrived at the stage of life everyone else must aspire to. You could use an all-purpose "we should be able to share many simchas together." Then you're safe, no matter what situation the person is in.

  10. Empirically we see that "have a nice day" doesn't elicit a negative reaction like in IYHBYT (except maybe a psycho). Surely there are underlying reasons. Although "failure" might be too reductionist, I think the basic underlying reason is as I wrote.

    I was not suggesting that the intentions of the person saying IYBYT are anything but benevolent. It's just that people don't like to be seen as a nebach case.

  11. I rarely took offense at "I'YH by you" when I was single (which was not very long ago as you all know ;-) but there were certain time I did:

    1) if the person was younger than me
    2) if the tone was too sugary (I"YH by YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) oh eww...

    For the most part..I let it slide. It is usually said either absently, or sincerely both of which merit an "amen". For the few times its sugary? it merits a slightly more strained "amen" said through clenched teeth. I've heard worse my dear friends! At brisim people seem to find it amusing to say "I'YH by you a BIG boy!" how is that funny or cute?
    I don't think I said it to one person at the vort...I just said "Thanks for coming! It's so nice sharing simchas!"

  12. @Ariella:
    How is "we should be able to share many simchas together" a better wish for one's single friends? What simchas are singles sharing with married people? Birthdays? I see that statements as a rehashed version of the "IyHbY," at least in that context. Furthermore, it seems like a façade, it comes off sounding like a neutral statement, yet it's carrying the same message.

    @ishchayill :
    You’re right; empirically I have no data to prove “have a nice day” elicits any negative response, but I would imagine if one were to dole out those words in certain local environs they would receive more than just a few glowers. I do agree with what you’re saying. However, wouldn’t that mean that the receivers of the wish are spreading this notion of being a “nebach case” by acting offended by the words?

    Hi :D

    To quote Data from a comment on a previous post: "Whatever you think is best, dear" :-P

    Wow, that bris line is terrible, yet slightly humorous, at least from a guy’s perspective.

    You didn’t say it to anyone by the vort? Not even once? This I did not know. You are awesome! ;-)

  13. If more people were amused with it as I am, IYHBYT would be the latest joke going around ;-)

  14. @sibaw- i think i said it to one or two people- the result was not good- and i stopped. (girls generally don't appreciate the "i"yH by you" much) sanks for the compilment :-)

    @ishchayil- I agree! Soemtimes we all take ourselves too seriously- imp. to laugh a little.

  15. What do you say to people who aren't single? Say the same thing. Seriously. Why do you need to make a special comment for a single person? They say mazal tov, you say thank you. End of story.

  16. IYH by you is just a way for people to congratulate themselves on getting married before you. "Oh, look at me, I am married and therefore smarter and can give you advice".

    Yeah, ok, STFU please you are annoying.

  17. @badforshidduchim:
    No, to married people one can say “may we share in simchas together” yet, to single people that is equally as demining as the IyHbY if not worse. I am working on a more subtle approach, but I’m still field testing it. I’ll keep you posted.

    Do you really believe that? I know a lot of stupid people who got engaged and married quite quickly. To the contrary, I would argue that stupid people have an easier time getting married! I would assume that's where the brilliant advice you are referring to stems from. Do you also think that people who wish others “have a nice and day” are also messing with them?

  18. I'm reading/learning the sefer Yom Hachupa LeChatan, and it mentions something along the lines of what Ariella said.

    The author writes that the groom (at the wedding, seemingly prior to the chupa) should respond to wishes of mazal tov with "Bruchim tihiyu v'tizku gam atem l'smachot" or in my unprofessional translation: "You (or y'all? :)) should be blessed and you should also merit simchas."

    How does that sound?

  19. Hi, I've been a bit of a lurker on these pages, so hi to u all, n thanks for the entertaining reads so far!
    Just to add my 2 cents:
    I've found that there are some nice, intelligent and sensitive people who will just smile and say great to see u/ u look great/ so happy u were able to come... And just wish u Hatslacha.. Took me a while to realize that this is the best version of IYHBU.
    This is my official preferred version of this bracha. People seem to have a penchant for stating the obvious- why??? There is no need to- just smile (just friendly, not condescendingly) show ur happy to see them (eventhough they're not married make them feel like they still count) and wish them hatslacha (with whatever- work, school guys etc)
    Keeping in mind that I survived 3 weddings of younger siblings... (I decided to compete with the other single family members to see who got the most IYHBU's, and would count under my breath everytime I got an IYHBU... Don't remember what the prize was, might've been something liquid ;-) )


You can use some basic HTML tags as well as these emoticons. If you wish to comment anonymously, please use the Name/URL option and give yourself a unique title. You can leave the URL field blank if you wish. Thanks for your comment. Enjoy.