Take the 2-minute tour ×
Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Breishit 2:7:

... He blew into his nostrils the soul of life ...

Why did HaShem use nostrils instead of mouth?

PS. ISTR that, according to a midrash, the fire which killed Nadav & Avihu did so via their nostrils too, is this related?

share|improve this question
3  
Why should He use the mouth instead of nostrils? –  Double AA Sep 29 '13 at 17:17
4  
The phrase in hebrew is "נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים". Why Hashem should give Adam a soul via the means of breathing through his nostrils is a question in and of itself. However, if, for whatever reason it is related to the act of breathing then the primary function of a nostril is for breathing whereas the mouth is used for eating and speaking. –  bondonk Sep 29 '13 at 18:47
1  
@bondonk Of course it's related to breathing. נשמה means a breath. –  Double AA Oct 2 '13 at 17:59
1  
There are plenty of references to breath being in the nostrils (instead of somewhere else, like the mouth): Genesis, Job, Lamentations and probably more. Breathing in Biblical text seems to always be done through the nostrils. Why? I don't know, but @bondonk's comment seems to make sense. –  anthony-arnold Oct 10 '13 at 8:26
add comment

1 Answer

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Because the soul enters and exits the body via the nose. In the Midrash "Pirkei Rebbi Eliezer" it says that from the beginning of creation nobody became ill, but instead a person would sneeze and his soul would exit from his nostrils, until Yaakov came along and asked Hashem for mercy - that He shouldn't take his soul until he has time to command his offspring how to conduct themselves after he is dead. Hashem accepted his request, as it says Bereishis 48,1 "And it was after these things that Yosef was told: Behold! (something unusual!), your father is sick", something which had never occurred from the days of creation!

The Midrash concludes that therefore when a person sneezes one should wish him life (health) because sneezing used to signify the opposite of life. This is the source of saying Bless You or Gesundheit or לבריות or something similar in different languages.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.