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If your neighbor/coworker/etc. is a religious non-Jew and they do you a favor, is there a problem to say "thank you, God bless you?", assuming you think they'd appreciate hearing that?

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At first, I misread the question as being "Is there any problem with thanking a non-Jew for saying 'God bless you'?", another IMO interesting question. – msh210 Dec 1 '10 at 15:31
only if you are a Litvak – Jeremy Dec 2 '10 at 15:37
up vote 7 down vote accepted

I can't imagine it would be a problem.

Hashem blessed Avraham "והיה ברכה", which Rashi explains as "Blessings are given into your hand". That implies that we have the power (and responsibility) to disburse brochos. We also have a responsibility to educate the nations of the world about Hashem's existence, and this may be one way to do so.

Yaakov blessed Pharaoh when he came down to Egypt- and from that moment on the Nile rose to Pharaoh's feet whenever he approached it. I assume that your neighbor is a nicer guy than Phraoh ;)

You'll also see that various great rabbis throughout history blessed the gentiles that they encountered.

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FTR, the Pharaoh that Yaakov blessed was a pretty benevolent one. – Isaac Moses Dec 15 '10 at 14:35

Assuming that you're not Jewish (from the tags) then it would be fine and probably appreciated.

Jews try to avoid saying G-d's name in conversation, but according to some halachic opinions, saying it in English isn't problematic.

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I assure you, Shalom is quite Jewish. The tags are topics the question relates to, not characteristics of the asker. – Isaac Moses Dec 12 '10 at 21:05
@Isaac How Jewish is he? How do you differentiate between degrees of Jewishness? Sorry. Couldn't help it. – WAF Dec 12 '10 at 22:34
I have it on good authority, for example, that he's not of Netinish extraction. – Isaac Moses Dec 12 '10 at 23:37
I'm Shalom, and I approve of Isaac's message! – Shalom Dec 15 '10 at 13:53
Well, now I have it on good authority, anyway. – Isaac Moses Dec 15 '10 at 14:33

I don't know if this a proof, but I thought that I'd share a related incident: When I went to get a blessing for a Jew from one of the most renowned English-speaking rabbis of our generation in Jerusalem, he asked for the person's name. I gave the name, and he said that the name wasn't Jewish, and that he wouldn't give a blessing to a non-Jew.

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Given that the person to be blessed was a Jew, but the rabbi insisted otherwise, and giving the rabbi the benefit of the doubt, I guess the rabbi was objecting strongly to this Jew's having an apparently non-Jewish name, with said deficiency, rather than an incorrect assumption about the person's status, being the reason for withholding a blessing. In any event, I'd say that without knowing the identity of the rabbi and the particulars of the situation, we can't really derive from this story how normal people should behave toward non-Jews on a daily basis. – Isaac Moses Feb 28 '11 at 19:47

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