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This Guy Thought His Tattoo Said "Strength" But It Really Says "Matzoh"

Did you know the Hebrew words for "Strength" and "Matzoh" look totally alike? Neither did this guy.

Posted on May 13, 2015, at 2:37 p.m. ET

Sruli Schochet was in an Arkansas Walmart when he ran into this guy, proudly showing off a tattoo he thought read as "strength" in Hebrew. Unfortunately, the tattoo was badly misspelled.

Facebook: sruli.schochet

Schochet said he didn't have the heart to break it to the guy, that the word on his arm actually reads as "matzoh," the Hebrew word for the cracker-like unleavened bread Jews eat during the holiday of Passover.

"Let's just say, there is a white guy in Arkansas walking around with the Hebrew word for 'cracker' on his arm...and he doesn't know it!" Schochet said in the comments on his post.

"When he told me that he thought it meant strength, my mind was spinning," Schochet told BuzzFeed News by phone. "Was there some other definition of matzoh that I didn't know? But I looked it up and there isn't. This poor guy totally got fooled."

Schochet said that his post has been shared over 3,500 times since he first uploaded it on Monday. In the comments several people pointed out that there are websites that recommend Hebrew tattoos, and on one, the word for strength is given as "matzah."

"Maybe some Israeli guy is just having a good time tricking people," he said. "Right under the word matzoh was the word 'chametz' [Hebrew for the leavened bread Jews won't eat on the Passover holiday] and it was defined as power or something, so it made me think some guy was just messing with people."

It's not the first time this sort of mix-up has happened. This guy became instantly famous in Israel when he showed up on his Birthright trip with this tattoo.

Facebook: yizhar.hess

Meant to read "work hard, party harder" — a rallying cry of bros around the world — it actually reads as "the Labor Party is harder."

The words for "work" and "labor" in Israel are pretty similar. The photo was originally posted to Facebook and immediately shared by the then-head of the Labor Party in Israel, who must have thought it was good publicity. (It didn't exactly help in this year's election though...)

The "Bad Hebrew" blog is filled with more examples of people who really should have talked their tattoos over with a native speaker (preferably one who wasn't angry with them) before going under the needle.

Bad Hebrew blog / Via

In this one, the blog claims that this woman wanted "I love [insert name of boyfriend]," in Hebrew on her back. She used Babylon translate and ended up with a tattoo reading, "Babylon is the world's leading dictionary and translation software."

So, you know, close.

This girl wanted "mercy" tattooed on her finger, but instead ended up with the Hebrew word for "loss," or "absence" — which is rather fitting given the loss of her ability to go without telling this story every few days.

Bad Hebrew / Via

For a while, Hebrew tattoos were a celebrity fad. They didn't fare much better with the Hebrew language. Britney Spears got this tattoo removed after the word she thought read as "God" was just a bunch of scrambled-up letters.

Bad Hebrew / Via

Then Christina Aguilera got a tattoo that was supposed to read as the initials of her then-husband, Jordan Bratman. But in Hebrew, initials work differently, so she basically got the number 12.

Bad Hebrew blog / Via

So remember, kids: Always quadruple-check what you're about to get permanently etched on you in a language you can't read.

20th Century Fox / Via

Schochet said he was sorry he didn't get the name of the man with the matzoh tattoo, but that if this post reached him he would be interested in starting a GoFundMe campaign for a laser tattoo removal.

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    Sheera Frenkel is a cybersecurity correspondent for BuzzFeed News based in San Francisco. She has reported from Israel, Egypt, Jordan and across the Middle East. Her secure PGP fingerprint is 4A53 A35C 06BE 5339 E9B6 D54E 73A6 0F6A E252 A50F

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