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Why We Say "Gesundheit"

 

We say "Gesundheit" (Health! or God Bless You!") when someone sneezes because up to the time of Jacob the Patriarch, sneezing was the sign of approaching, immediate death. When Jacob was blessing his children, he was only partly through when he sneezed, and he feared he would die before he had blessed them all. He therefore cried, "I trust in Thy salvation, O Lord!" He continued the blessings, and was enabled to complete them. From that time onward, sneezing was no longer the omen of sudden death, yet we retain the custom of saying. "I trust in Thy salvation, O Lord! and those who are present when a person sneezes say: "God bless you."

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