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When a person hears that someone is pregnant the traditional response is besha tova, instead of mazal tov. Why is that?

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I've seen different communities use either of those wishes – Double AA Aug 9 '13 at 13:40
A tributary question is "what do we mean when we say מזל טוב at all?". – WAF Aug 9 '13 at 14:08
Please consider registering your account, pokemon, which will give you access to more of the site's features. – msh210 Aug 9 '13 at 15:26
"be-sha'ah tovah" -- at the right time. – wfb Aug 9 '13 at 15:43

"Mazel Tov" is for something that's happened, like a wedding or a birth.

We recognize not to take healthy pregnancies for granted. To say "mazel tov" would imply "we're sure this will make it to birth", which sadly doesn't always happen. Thus, to show that it's in G-d's hands and not ours, we offer a prayer instead, "may the birth happen at a good time."

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conception itself is certainly a milestone, one which many couples are sadly not able to achieve. We say mazal tov at a bar mitzvah even though the boy has not yet accomplished anything, and may end up being a bad person. Also, can you cite a source for your statements? – pokemon Aug 9 '13 at 15:03
@Pokemon, a bar mitzva boy is now obligated in mitzvahs. That in and of itself is something -- recall that we have a framework of responsibilities, not rights. "Conception is a milestone" -- great, but with the whole reproductive process we have the humility to acknowledge it's not under our control. I have also heard pregnancy news greeted with "mazel tov, b'sha'ah tova" -- congratulations on the conception, and may it come to fruition. But ask any couple who've -- lo aleinu -- lost a pregnancy if conception that didn't make it was cause for celebration. – Shalom Aug 9 '13 at 15:10
As for sources, I guess it's oral law. Just something I've grown up hearing from a lot of good Jews. – Shalom Aug 9 '13 at 15:11
@Shalom I agree, but in my experience, even among traditional but non-religious Jews, there is also a good amount of ayin-hara-related narishkeit here. Like - don't say mazel tov lest, G-d-forbid, the ayin hara makes it not happen. – Charles Koppelman Aug 9 '13 at 16:24

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