Reply to a Sneeze

Question

Are there Jewish roots to the custom of saying “God bless you” when someone sneezes, or does this really have other origins?

 

6 months

Answers

  1. 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 God should give people some warning of their impending death, so they would have time to consider their ways and repent of any bad deeds.

    Probably the most common reply to sneeze one would hear in Jewish company is “Gesundheit!” – Yiddish for “May you have good health!”

     

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team