Do You Wish Mazel Tov?

Do You Wish Mazel Tov?

Question

I just found out that a friend is pregnant. She is quite observant so I want to do the right thing. Is it appropriate to say Mazal Tov to a pregnant woman? 

Answer

Conceiving a child is like conceiving an idea. A new idea is very exciting, but until it has been brought into the concrete world and actualized, it is too early to celebrate. So too with pregnancy.

Becoming pregnant is an awesome and wonderful event. The miracle of conception is the most natural supernatural occurrence, the most normal paranormal experience in the universe. But as exciting as becoming pregnant is, nothing has really happened. Pregnancy is a potential that is yet to be fulfilled, a prelude to something yet to arrive, a step towards a new life that is yet to come, a spark of an idea that is yet to be implemented.

Pregnancy is a potential that is yet to be fulfilledWe would not throw a party for someone who had a good idea but has not yet followed it through. So we don't celebrate a pregnancy as we would other happy occasions, and we do not wish Mazal Tov to a pregnant woman. Mazal Tov is only appropriate when referring to something that has already occurred, while pregnancy is the expectation of something yet to come.

Rather than saying Mazal Tov, the appropriate wish to expecting parents is Beshaah Tovah - all should proceed at the right time: the pregnancy should be smooth, the baby should be healthy and the birth should be without complication. These are wishes for the future rather than blessings for the past, more a prayer than a congratulation.

This is also why many have a custom not to buy things for an unborn baby. This is not superstition. Just as the baby is still concealed, so is our joy and our celebration. When the baby comes out in the open, so will the gifts and the joy. Until then, we remain in a state of quiet happiness and prayerful optimism.

Becoming pregnant is a fantastic idea. When someone conceives, we pray that with G-d's help they should be blessed to implement it; Beshaah Tovah - all in the right time.


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