By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5tjt.com
It was an impromptu Sheva Bachos in Englewood, New Jersey at Cong. Ahavath Torah at the Nefesh B’Nefesh Homecoming Celebration. The couple, Joey and Tzophia, got married this past Thursday, and the idea came up of making a Sheva Brachos. The food was from Dougies (and delicious said Mrs. Magid, currently of Waterbury, CT and soon to be of Tzvas).
Honored with sheva brachos were two Ministers of Israel, Yoav Ben Tzur (Shas), the minister of Labor in the current government, and Ofir Sofer (HaTzionit HaDatit), the minister of Aliyah. Rabbi Fass was honored with a sheva brachos as well. The sheva brachos was followed by singing and dancing. They are planning on making Aliyah in the summer. Mazal Tov!
What follows are halachos of Sheva Brachos from Rav Elyashiv zatzal and translated by Rabbi Yair Hoffman.
THE SEVEN DAYS OF FEASTING
COUNTING THE SEVEN DAYS
WHEN THE CHUPPAH IS BEFORE SUNDOWN
1. The counting of the seven days begins with the Chuppah. Therefore, if the Chuppah is held before sundown and the meal is held at night, we count the seven days from the Chuppah and not from the meal. Even if the Chuppah was close to sundown, we consider part of the day as a whole day, and it is considered as the first day.
2. When the Chuppah is held during twilight – Bain HaShmashos, we also begin counting the seven days from daylight and not from the night. This is because of the principle of safek brachos lehakel – whenever we have a doubt in a matter of blessings we are lenient.
3. However, if the Chuppah was 30 minutes after sunset, or at least 25 minutes after sunset, we may count the seven days from the evening.
4. On the seventh day of the Seven Days of Feasting, one may only recite the Sheva Brachos until sunset alone, even if the meal was in the daytime. Indeed, one may not even recite them during Bain HaShmashos (twilight).
5. When the seventh day of the Seven Days of Feasting falls on Shabbos, and the meal of Sheva Brachos is made at the Shalosh Seudos meal, and the meal continues after sundown – on account of the Mitzvah of adding onto the Shabbos, even though they are obligated to recite the Retzay v’hachalitzeinu in Bentching, nonetheless, the brachos of Sheva Brachos are not to be recited after Shkiya. Therefore, the custom under such circumstances is to recite bentch before sundown so that the Sheva Brachos can be recited while it is yet day.
Similarly, one should not recite the Sheva brachos in the middle of the meal and afterward continue the meal (since, according to the Rambam Brachos 2:9-10 – the Sheva Brachos belong to Bentching). Rather, one must complete the meal in order to recite the Sheva Brachos in the day. However, seven of those who are gathered, and ideally ten, may complete their meal and recite Bentching and Sheva Brachos, while the rest may continue in their meal.
6. Someone who weds a woman must rejoice with her for seven days. He may not work nor conduct business in the market. Rather, he eats and drinks and rejoices with her.
7. It is a great Mitzvah to rejoice with the groom and bride and to dance in front of her, and to say that she is beautiful and graceful. This Mitzvah is not only at the wedding but in all the seven days of feasting.
8. There are those who make a meal of Sheva Brachos on each of the seven days of feasting, but there is no obligation for this at all.
9. There are communities where the custom is to play musical instruments at Sheva Brachos meals as well. Since this is the protocol of their Simcha, they are permitted to dance and play during the Three Weeks and durig Sefirah (for example when the wedding was held on Lag BaOmer, or before the Three Weeks commenced) since this is also rejoicing with the groom and bride. Since this is their regular custom, it would be lacking in rejoicing with groom if the musical instruments were left out.
However, in places where there is no custom to play during Sheva Brachos with musical instruments – one may not play them during the Three Weeks. Rather, one may only sing with the mouth.
10. It is taught in tractate Beitzah (36b), “We may not dance on Shabbos.” The Shulchan Aruch ruled in this manner – that it is forbidden to dance on Shabbos. One may be lenient regarding dancing in honor of a groom, in accordance with the opinion of the Ramah.
Certainly that which they dance in a circle after the meal, this is not considered dancing and it is permitted on Shabbos.
11. A groom is forbidden in the performance of Malacha [work] the entire Seven Days of Feasting. Even when the bride gives permission it is still forbidden.
12. It is the custom that even the bride is forbidden in the performance of work like the groom.
13. Work that is permitted on Chol HaMoed is also permitted to a groom and bride. The prohibitions of work on these days are more lenient than Malacha on Chol HaMoed. Therefore, writing is permitted when necessary. Likewise, laundering is also permitted. One may also write words of Torah, even using a computer.
14. It is also permitted to do light work that does not take one’s mind off the joy of the Seven Days of Feasting.
15. It is permissible to purchase furniture – whatever they need for their new home.
16. It is permitted for a groom to get a haircut the entire Seven Days of Feasting, for example, a groom who shaves his beard [in a permissible manner, of course]. This is because a groom resembles a king and it states (Yishayahu 33:17), “A king in his beauty your eyes shall see..”
17. A groom may receive a haircut even during the Three Weeks and during Sefirah.
18. It is forbidden for a groom or bride to go out alone in the market without a shomer – a person guarding him. However, they are permitted to go out together, since one watches over the other.
19. A groom that wishes to go to shul for davening, and there are people on the streets of the city – may rely on this to go out alone. This is true even if they are not within 4 cubits (seven feet) of him.
20. Within the house, both the groom and the bride may remain alone without need for being guarded.
21. For the entire Seven Days of Feasting the groom does not recite Tachanun, and the congregation that is davening with him is also exempt from reciting Tachanun.
22. Someone who prays with a groom and afterwards returns to his house does not need to make up the reciting of Tachanun.
23. The Mishna Brurah writes that (131:26), a groom should refrain from going to shul during the weekdays for the entire Seven Days of Feasting, since he prevents them from saying Tachanun. However, nowadays the custom is that the groom comes to shul to pray.
24. In order for a groom to exempt a congregation from reciting Tachanun, he must daven the Shmoneh Esreh with them. Therefore, if he davened Shmoneh Esreh with them and afterward left they do not recite Tachanun.
25. However, if he did not pray with them, but he arrived in shul at the time they were to recite Tachanun or a little bit beforehand, he does not exempt the congregation from reciting Tachanun. Similarly, if he was present from the beginning of prayers to the end, if he did not recite the Shmoneh Esreh with them, he does not exempt them from Tachanun.
26. Tachanun is not recited on the eighth day after the wedding even if the Chuppah was before sundown. Even though it was explained earlier regarding the reciting of Sheva Brachos that we count from the time of the Chuppah – that is from the day, this is only in regard to saying the blessings. For out of a concern for a blessing recited in vain, we do not recite a blessing when there is a doubt. However, regarding exempting from the reciting of Tachanun, there is to be more lenient.
27. A groom and bride are obligated in fasting when there is a communal fast – on the 10th of Taives, Tzom Gedaliah, and the 17th of Tammuz.
28. If one of these fast days were a “delayed fast” – a “Nidcheh” one may be lenient to allow them to eat after Chatzos – midday.
29. On Taanis Esther one can permit them to eat even if it is not a nidcheh. There is no need to make it up later.
30. A groom who is accustomed to fast on Rosh Chodesh Elul or on the days when Slichos are recited or on a Yahrtzeit, and now he is in the middle of the Seven Days of Feasting, it is better that he not fast and there is no need to do a Hataras Nedarim.
31. The groom recites a Shehecheyanu on the next day after the wedding when he puts on his Tallis Gadol for the first time, like the halacha is for a new garment. He recites the blessing of lehisatef, then the Shehecheyanu, and then he wraps himself in the Tallis.
32. Similarly regarding all his new garments, he should recite a Shehecheyanu. It is preferable to make the blessing on all of them at the same time, rather than making a blessing at the Aufruf on one garment, and at the wedding on another garment, because by doing so he is causing a Bracha Sh’aina Tzricha – an unnecessary blessing.
33. Similarly regarding all new kailim (important vessels), he should gather them together and recite at one time “hatov v’hamaitiv” [after his wedding].
34. Similarly, on her new leichter (candlesticks) – the woman should recite Hatove v’hamaitiv on her first Shabbos, since it is in partnership for both of them. For the husband fulfills his obligation with the woman’s lighting.
35. Similarly, if they purchased a new apartment – the groom should recite “HaTov V’haMeitiv” – even if he incurred loans on account of the purchase of the apartment. Certainly, if he has no debts, but his parents incurred the debts – he must recite it. When he recites the HaTov v’haMaitiv the bride should hear the blessing and answer Amain, and he should have in mind to fulfill her obligation as well.
36. One should not affix a Mezuzah in an apartment when one is bringing in the furniture and other items. Rather it should be affixed at the time that one enters to live in it, that is, on the day of the wedding. It may be affixed on the day of the wedding even before the night, since he has removed his residency from his parents home – for he will not sleep there anymore. It is thus considered that his residency is here.
37. If they wish to affix the Mezuzah before this, such as if they are concerned that they will be too occupied on the day of the wedding, they must use the apartment once in a use that indicates living in it. For example, he should eat one meal there or sleep there for one night.
38. When the Mezuzah is affixed one does not recite a Shehecheyanu – even if this is the first time in his life that he is affixing the Mezuzah. This is because the custom is that we only recite a Shehecheyanu on Mitzvos that come around on a cyclical basis such as Sukkah and Lulav.
However, if he also has a new garment, he should bring it with him and recite the Shehecheyanu on the garment and have in mind the Mezuzah.
39. A groom on the night of his wedding should light Chanukah candles at his parents’ home, for he has not removed his residency from there until after candle lighting time. If the Chupah will take place before sundown, he should go to his new home and light there before the Chuppah.
40. It is forbidden for a person to be alone with his wife without a Kesuvah even for one hour. The concern is for Yichud, secluding, but being alone where there is no Yichud problem is permitted.
41. One may not rely on a photocopy of a Kesuvah regarding the halacha that one is forbidden to remain together without a Kesuvah.
42. The custom is that the parents of the bride hold onto the Kesuvah in their house for their married daughter.
43. If, for whatever reason, a name was added throughout the years, there is no need to write a new Kesuvah with the new name.
44. In a location where they require a copy of the Kesuvah in order to register the marriage, the witnesses should not sign on the copy. For if so, the woman would have two documents and she could obtain her Kesuvah twice. It does not help that which it states on top “Copy” because that can be removed.
Therefore, the witnesses should not sign on it. Rather, someone else should write that the witnesses were Ploni and Ploni, or they should place on it a picture of the original Kesuvah, and then it is readily apparent that it is a copy.
45. If there are differing customs between the husband and his wife, the wife follows the customs of the husband in all matters, whether in leniencies or in stringencies, with the exception of Kitnios on Pesach if in her parents home the custom was not to eat it. This is because it is a custom that they took on themselves and their descendants forever.
46. If she was accustomed in her father’s home to Daven with a pronunciation that is different from that of her husband, she does not have to change her pronunciation after the wedding, and she may continue in the custom of her forefathers.
47. A husband, who, in his home the custom was not to eat gebrochts, but in his father-in-law’s house the custom is to eat gebrochts, nay do hataras nedarim and stop the minhag.
A SEGULAH FOR SHALOM BAYIS
48. It was taught in the Sifrei, “What is the meaning of “And He shall give you peace?” Rabbi Chanina the Sgan HaKohanim says, “And He shall give you peace in your home.” Therefore, during Birchas Kohanim when the Kohanim say the word, “peace” a person should always contemplate, “Give me peace with my wife and the members of my household.”
49. We have also heard that if someone desires peace in his house, he should ask from the Kohain that when he says, “And He shall give you peace” to have him in mind and this helps for Shalom Bayis – domestic peace.
Rabbi Hoffman can be reached at [email protected].