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Do You Wish Mazal Tov to a Pregnant Woman?

Do You Wish Mazal Tov to a Pregnant Woman?

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Question:
I just found out that a friend is pregnant. She is quite observant so I want to do the right thing. Is it appropriate to say Mazal Tov to a pregnant woman?

Answer:
Conceiving a child is like conceiving an idea. A new idea is very exciting, but until it has been brought into the concrete world and actualized, it is too early to celebrate. So too with pregnancy.

Becoming pregnant is an awesome and wonderful event. The miracle of conception is the most natural supernatural occurrence, the most normal paranormal experience in the universe. But as exciting as becoming pregnant is, nothing has really happened. Pregnancy is a potential that is yet to be fulfilled, a prelude to something yet to arrive, a step towards a new life that is yet to come, a spark of an idea that is yet to be implemented.

Pregnancy is a potential that is yet to be fulfilledWe would not throw a party for someone who had a good idea but has not yet followed it through. So we don't celebrate a pregnancy as we would other happy occasions, and we do not wish Mazal Tov to a pregnant woman. Mazal Tov is only appropriate when referring to something that has already occurred, while pregnancy is the expectation of something yet to come.

Rather than saying Mazal Tov, the appropriate wish to expecting parents is Beshaah Tovah - all should proceed at the right time: the pregnancy should be smooth, the baby should be healthy and the birth should be without complication. These are wishes for the future rather than blessings for the past, more a prayer than a congratulation.

This is also why many have a custom not to buy things for an unborn baby. This is not superstition. Just as the baby is still concealed, so is our joy and our celebration. When the baby comes out in the open, so will the gifts and the joy. Until then, we remain in a state of quiet happiness and prayerful optimism.

Becoming pregnant is a fantastic idea. When someone conceives, we pray that with G‑d's help they should be blessed to implement it; Beshaah Tovah - all in the right time.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
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Lilian Ecuador June 27, 2014

Hello, can you say Mazel Tov to a couple that is celebrating their 25th anniversary? Reply

Leigh Abidjan, Ivory Coast March 23, 2013

Beautiful What a beautifully written and helpful response. It made perfect sense to this non-Jew, and even brought tears to my eyes. It was exactly what I needed so I could share the joy I feel at my friend's pregnancy while respecting (and much better understanding) her customs and beliefs. My sincere thanks to Rabbi Moss. Reply

YRELKAH BROWN Miami, FL February 9, 2013

So, once the baby is born, is it appropriate to say "Mazal Tov" ?
Reply

Kelly Rae Sydney, AU January 18, 2008

Thank you I have a dear friend here that has three children. She and her husband enjoy them so much that of course they wish for more.

Now I know what will be appropriate to say to her when she announces to me that she has once again conceived.

As always, your answers are so well written.
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