In Levant, there is a belief that this particular spice mixture makes the mind alert and the body strong. For this reason, children are encouraged to eat a za'atar sandwich for breakfast before an exam. Palestinians also remind their children in the morning before sending them off to school that eating za'atar for breakfast will make them smarter. Maimonides (Rambam), a medieval rabbi and physician who lived in Spain, Morocco, and Egypt, prescribed za'atar for its health advancing properties.
Za'atar (Arabic, also romanized zaatar, za'tar, zatar, zatr, zattr, zahatar, zaktar or satar) is a generic name for a family of related Middle Eastern herbs from the genera Origanum (Oregano), Calamintha (Basil thyme), Thymus vulgaris (Thyme) and Satureja (Savory). It is also the name for a condiment made from the dried herb(s), mixed together with sesame seeds, dried sumac, and often salt, as well as other spices. Used in Arab cuisine, both the herb and spice mixture are popular throughout the Middle East.