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What are the Hebrew letters on a Jewish headstone?

What are the Hebrew letters on a Jewish headstone?



I was told that there is supposed to be some Hebrew letters on a memorial grave marker/headstone. We are planning a headstone for my deceased mother; can you help me with this?


I am sorry to hear about your loss. I offer you the traditional condolences given to mourners: "May G‑d console you, together with all mourners of Zion and Jerusalem."

Most likely, the letters you are referring to are .ת.נ.צ.ב.ה. It is customary, but not obligatory, to put these letters on the bottom of a monument. These letters are an acronym for the Hebrew words תהא נפשו/ה צרורה בצרור החיים (t'hay nafsho/ah tzrurah b'tzror hachaim), "May his/her soul be bound up in the bond of life." This paraphrases the words that Abigail told King David (I Samuel 25:29): "But my lord's soul shall be bound in the bond of life with the L-rd your G‑d."

Click here to find more information about putting up a monument. I also advise you to visit our Death and Mourning section; you are sure to find there much useful information and insights to help you get through this difficult period in your life.

All the best,

Rochel Chein for

Mrs. Rochel Chein is a member of the Ask the Rabbi team.
All names of persons and locations or other identifying features referenced in these questions have been omitted or changed to preserve the anonymity of the questioners.
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Discussion (4)
October 26, 2014
Inappropriate picture please change, improper gravestone should have embedded letters
October 25, 2014
A little confused

I thought that the lettering is supposed to be engraved inside the stone, not protruding from the stone?!
September 22, 2010
Thanks for the link.
Loma, MT/USA
October 18, 2007
Other letters
It is also quite common to place
פ"ן (here lies) on the top of the stone over the name.