Mamash is a Hebrew (Yiddish) word that means “substance,” and denotes that something is really, really real. You can use this word wherever you’d use the English words “really,” “very,” or “truly.”

In Yiddish it is pronounced MAH-mish

In modern Hebrew, it is pronounced mah-MASH

Some Examples of Mamash

If your daughter cooks the most delicious chicken soup and kneidelach, you can tell her, “Shayne punim (pretty face), that was mamash geshmak (tasty).”

On the other hand, if your daughter is a klutz (awkward) and the soup spills on the way to the table, you can comfort her by telling her it was mamash not her fault that her little brother chose to leave a tchotchke (toy) on the dining room floor.

From Hebrew to Yiddish and Back: How Mamash Changed Meanings

In its original context, mamash is something tangible that can be touched and felt (related to mishush or mishmush, Hebrew for “touch” or “grope”).

Thus, the sages described the Plague of Darkness, which was so thick that people could not even move, as “darkness that had mamash.”1

Conversely, things that are fake were described as “without mamash.”

For example, people who did not believe in idol worship but chose to go along with its rites and beliefs for the sexual licentiousness that came along with it, were described as knowing that idolatry “has no mamash.2

As you can see from both examples, the original mamash is a property (“tangibility”). Its current use as an adverb probably came about in Yiddish and then transferred back into Hebrew.

An example would be in the second chapter of Tanya, where the G‑dly soul is described as “a part of G‑d above, mamash.”3

The irony of describing something super-spiritual with a word that means super-physical was not lost on astute Tanya students. They understood this to mean that the purpose of the G‑dly, ethereal soul is to transform this earthy and physical world (mamash) into something Divine.

The Blessing of Mamash

In Judaism there are all kinds of things that exist on a spiritual plane. For example, a person’s good deeds can be seen as spiritual children, and blessings can manifest in ways not apparent to us. But that's not enough; we want the real deal.

When expressing his fervent wish for the arrival of Moshiach, the Rebbe often said that it should happen teikef umiyad mamash, “right away, immediately, mamash!”