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I am a member of a Chabad-Lubavitch shul with its wonderfully diverse community here in Southeast Asia though I am not a Chasid. I may have caused some discomfort to our much loved Rabbi & Rebbetzin to whom I wished mazel tov on the birth of their daughter's first-born son. The Rebbetzin told me in a soft and polite way that wishing someone mazel tov in this kind of situation was not part of their tradition (Chasidic?). I was concerned that I had made a gaffe. This happened during a Friday-night kiddush at the shul, the mother and newborn still hospitalized, awaiting their hospital discharge.

Why is this so?

  • Welcome to Mi Yodeya Peter! Hopefully your predicament gets resolved. Hopefully those folks won't mind. – mevaqesh May 24 '17 at 5:17
  • Probably not for religious reasons. He was probably too worked up about the condition – Shmuel Brin May 24 '17 at 5:27
  • @ShmuelBrin I sensed that the timing of my good wishes (mazel tov) was just not part of Chasidic Yiddish-kite at that moment and I can reassure you that neither the Rabbi nor the Rebbtzin was unduly "worked up" by the newborn's condition which was minor, very common and had no lasting effects, thank G-d. – Peter Point May 24 '17 at 5:39
  • You could have asked the Rebbetzin herself. – ezra May 24 '17 at 15:04
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    Easy solution for the future ... The first reaction when you hear about a Jewish birth is to ask, "Is everyone doing OK?" If the answer is affirmative, then you can follow up with "Mazal Tov". Although, in view of my answer, below, even then, you may want to wait until at least the brit, or if a girl, when you see the baby. I've, sadly, seen a bit too often, that a baby born healthy at birth has a major problem a day or two later. There's no knowing. – DanF May 24 '17 at 20:57
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I don't think this is specifically a Hassidic custom. My rav and another in my neighborhood have told me a few times that when I hear that a boy was born, one should wait until after the brit to say mazal tov. From what I understood, the reason is that the boy is not considered a "full Jew" (not that he's not Jewish, but they implied that the brit is a major Jewish event that enters the baby into the covenant) until the brit occurs.

In light of what you mentioned, as well as knowing what I went through with my oldest son (His brit was significantly delayed), I can see that almost every parent wants to know that his son will at least make it to the brit. Until then, I don't think that anyone should assume that the birth of a baby means that things are automatically "secure", so it makes sense to hold off.

None of the rabbis mentioned anything about girls, incidentally. My own thinking is that the same logic would apply, though. One should not assume that things are automatically fine upon birth. For girls, the best way is to keep in contact with the parents and inquire to the baby's health, to know when it's "safe" to say "Mazal Tov".

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