Ask The Rabbi

Heres Sneezin Atchoo!

The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Topic: G-d Bless You, Sneezing

Alan Mangurten from Morton Grove, Illinois wrote:

Are there Jewish roots to the custom of saying "G-d bless you" when someone sneezes, or does this really have other origins? Todah Rabbah!


Dear Alan Mangurten,

There is an ancient Jewish custom that when someone sneezes we say "asuta" which is Aramaic for "may you be healed." The sneezer then says "blessed are you" and then says "for your salvation, G-d, I wait."

This custom was written down during the Mishnaic period (c. 100 CE), but it dates back to the time of Jacob. Before Jacob's time, it was extremely common for perfectly healthy people to die suddenly, with no forewarning. Rather, a person would walk down the street, suddenly sneeze and die. Jacob prayed that Hashem should give people some warning of their impending death, so they would have time to consider their ways and repent of any bad deeds.

Sources:

  • Code of Jewish Law, Orach Chaim 230
  • Mishnah Berurah 7 (ad loc.)


 
Enter Search Phrase:    
Browse By Keyword: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z


Ohr Somayach International is a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation (letter on file) and your donation is tax deductable.