Is there are source for saying "Laberiut" "God bless you" "Gesundheit" or any other response to a sneeze? In other words, are there posekim who mention it in Halacha?

  • Yes, but I need to find sources. Heard a Shi'ur on the subject once.
    – Seth J
    Commented Dec 25, 2011 at 3:23
  • @SethJ if possible, can you please link me the Shiur? Commented Dec 25, 2011 at 3:35
  • It's an old podcast, if I recall correctly. I'll try to find it. It wasn't actually about the subject in Halachah. It delved into the subject from a discussion on Midreshei Avraham Avinu.
    – Seth J
    Commented Dec 25, 2011 at 4:02
  • I personally prefer the very literal "Baruch Attah."
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 25, 2011 at 7:58
  • I still have not gone back to listen to it, but if memory serves, I think it might be that the sneezer says "bless me" or something to that effect, and the observer says "amen" (or something to that effect).
    – Seth J
    Commented Jan 8, 2012 at 5:18

5 Answers 5


See the Mishnah Brurah (230: 7):

מי שמתעטש וחבירו אומר לו אסותא יאמר לו ברוך תהיה ואחר כך יאמר לישועתך קויתי השם

That when one sneezes, and hears his friend say "אסותא" to him, should reply with the phrases ...

I wasn't 100% sure what אסותא meant, but I found it described here as "an Aramaic word meaning health".

So there you have it: a source mentioning saying some variation of "to health" in response to a sneeze.

By the way, that same Mishnah Brurah over there brings a reason: Originally, when a person would die there wouldn't be any sickness. The person would simply be walking about, sneeze, and then die. Yaakov came along and davened on the matter... [and the reason, if I recall correctly, is so that a person would then have time to do Teshuva]

  • I've heard that reason before actually. Commented Dec 25, 2011 at 15:21
  • How is that pronounced? Asuta or Asota? Commented Dec 25, 2011 at 19:03
  • 1
    @H'Gabriel Sources online seem to indicate Asuta (or Asusa).
    – yydl
    Commented Dec 25, 2011 at 19:30
  • Actually, I have Mishna Berura Menukad. Thank you Commented Dec 25, 2011 at 19:51
  • 2
    The source of the Mishna Berurah (that people used to die when they sneezed) is originally brought down in Pirqei deRebi Eliezer §52. It is one of seven wonders wrought for characters in Tanakh. It's number four in the list, and is the wonder wrought for Jacob. When the Egyptians told Joseph that his father was sick, they had evidently never seen such a thing before, since people used to expire immediately upon sneezing without any protracted illness. The text concludes by saying that, when someone sneezes, one is obligated to say "Life!"
    – Shimon bM
    Commented Jul 7, 2012 at 3:21

As yydl mentions in his answer, there is the Mishnah Berurah as a source.

In terms of Double AA's answer that there may be a violation of Chukas Akum, I would like to expand upon it a little bit.

The Tosefta Shabbos, 8th perek, states:

ח,ב האומר מרפא הרי זה מדרכי האמורי ר' אלעזר ברבי צדוק אומר [אין אומרים מרפא מפני ביטול תורה של בית ר"ג] לא היו אומרים מרפא [מפני דרכי האמורי].נ

Without the brackets, it is a simple statement that they do not say Marpeh {=Asusah = Gesundheit.} With the full correct text, R' Eleazar beRabbi Tzadok said that one does not say this because of Bittul Torah. And in the house of Rabban Gamliel they said that it was because of Darkei Emori.

In Berachot 53a (English), a variant brayta attributes the former reason, of Bittul Beit Hamidrash, to the practice of the house of Rabban Gamliel.

תניא נמי הכי של בית רבן גמליאל לא היו אומרים מרפא בבית המדרש מפני בטול בית המדרש

It has been taught similarly: The members of the household of Rabban Gamaliel did not use to say 'Good health'21 in the Beth ha-Midrash so as not to interrupt their study.

I would note that the Mishnah Brurah cited above does not say TO say it, but assuming that his friend says Asusa to him, here is how to respond. Especially if there is a darkei Emori issue, I would not suddenly adopt a new practice, where it was not my custom to do this before...

The association of sneezing with the soul leaving, etc., is only first found in a post-Talmudic source, Pirkei deRabbi Eliezer. I wrote something up about this about a year ago, on parashat Vaychi.


Not the halachic-p'sak source sought, פרקי דרבי אליעזר chapter 52 says (in my own translation):

From the day heaven and earth had been created, no one became sick: rather, while he was on the road or in the market, he would sneeze and his soul would exit his nostrils. This was the case until our patriarch Yaakov begged for mercy regarding this, saying to God, "Master of all worlds, don't take my soul from me until I've given my [final] instructions to my children and household". God accepted his entreaty, as it says [B'reshis 48:1] "It was after these things that someone told Yosef, 'lo, your father is sick'", and all the peoples heard of this and wondered, as there had been nothing like it since the day heaven and earth had been created. Therefore one must say, when he sneezes, "חיים" ("life"), for death [by sneezing] had been changed to light, as it says [Iyov 41:10] "his sneezes brighten light".


How about Rambam Hilchot Talmud Torah 4:9?

יד [ט] אין ישנים בבית המדרש. וכל המתנמנם בבית המדרש, חכמתו נעשית קרעים קרעים; וכן אמר שלמה בחכמתו, "וקרעים, תלביש נומה" (משלי כג,כא). ואין מסיחין בבית המדרש, אלא בדברי תורה בלבד: אפילו מי שנתעטש, אין אומרין לו רפואה בבית המדרש; ואין צריך לומר, שאר הדברים. וקדושת בית המדרש, חמורה מקדושת בתי כנסייות.‏

So, as you can see, the idea of blessing someone who sneezes was prevalent at least 700 years ago. Furthermore, it seems like such a blessing would only be a problem in the Bet Midrash because it is unproductive, but it is not forbidden in general.

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    That's interesting, but it seems pretty limited in application. Btw, welcome to Mi Yodeya. If you register your account you'll enjoy more of the site's features.
    – Seth J
    Commented Jul 6, 2012 at 15:39


This seems to imply that saying "Bless You" may really be a violation of Chukat HaAkum. (Alternatively, maybe someone here should post a new answer for English.SE explaining our position.) I'm no historian, but it would be interesting to see who actually started it.

  • Actaully, interesting I just read that in Yabia Omer vol. 8 pg. 101 it says that Minhag that wasn't created by a Gadol/Hacham is not a real Minhag. Thus, there would be a problem of Hukot HaGoyim here. Commented Jan 8, 2012 at 6:06
  • @HachamGabriel: "minhag that wasn't created by a gadol/hacham is not a real minhag"? What would he do with, for example, the "women's customs" mentioned in the Yerushalmi (Pesachim 4:1 and Taanis 1:6), some of which are accepted as legitimate and cited as halachah? Similarly with "bnos Yisrael hechmiru al atzman" concerning the laws of niddah (Bavli, Niddah 66a).
    – Alex
    Commented Jan 8, 2012 at 17:10
  • @Alex I don't believe that's the same thing. Chumros are not Minhagim. Commented Jan 8, 2012 at 17:13
  • @HachamGabriel: okay, then, strike the last example. But the ones from the Yerushalmi are explicitly categorized as minhagin (נשייא דנהגן).
    – Alex
    Commented Jan 8, 2012 at 23:28
  • @Alex it is THEIR minhag, not that we accepted. Commented Jan 8, 2012 at 23:30

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