If the Am Yisroel is למעלה מן המזל, above the constellations, why do we wish each other a mazal tov?
Why do we say mazal tov to each other?
The truth is, there are two things in mazal tov. One is it’s a tefillah that Hakodosh Boruch Hu should continue to give that person to whom we’re speaking blessings. And there’s no reason why we shouldn’t do that. On the contrary, ואברך מברכך – I’ll bless those who bless you. If you bless a fellow Jew, Hashem will bless you. It’s a promise from Hashem. So mazal tov means you should continue to have mazal. In this sense ‘mazal’ means Hashem’s blessing.
And another thing is to make a person aware of what he got. הנותן מתנה לחבירו צריך להודיעו – when you give a gift to somebody, you have to let him know how good the gift is. And when Hashem gives a gift to somebody, it’s an especially good thing to let him know how good the gift is. If you say mazal tov to him, he’s happy.
Let’s say a daughter was born to him. He wanted a son. You say, “Mazal tov! A daughter! Isn’t that great?” and so now he becomes a little happier. You keep on saying mazal tov, he begins to enjoy it more.
And the truth is a daughter is a very great gift. He’ll get a good son-in-law, a gadol baTorah, and he’ll have a big zechus. Because the Gemara asks, how do you cling to Hashem? How does a person fulfill the mitzvah of ובו תדבק? And the answer there is that he’s משיא בתו לתלמיד חכם. If you marry off your daughter to a talmid chacham, that’s dveikus b’Hashem. So it’s a big mazal tov.
So therefore you’re doing two things by saying mazal tov. One thing is you’re praying for his continued success, a tefillah and a bracha; it’s a very big thing to give a bracha to a fellow Jew. And the second is, you’re making him aware how fortunate he is with that good thing that happened to him.
TAPE # 854 (December 1991)