Sheva Brachot

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The phrase “Sheva Brachos” refers to the set of blessings, usually seven ("sheva") in total (see below), recited in conjunction with the marriage ceremony and at a meal eaten in honor of the new couple during the first week of their marriage. Colloquially, this term is also used to refer to the meal at which these brachos will be recited. Technically, only six of these blessings are actually unique to the marriage celebration, as the ‘seventh’ bracha is the “Hagafen” made on a cup of wine. The text of the brachos can be found in most siddurim and “bentchers” immediately after Birkas HaMazon. see also Text of Sheva Brachot on Chabad.org. In some circumstances (see below), only “Hagafen” and “Asher Bara” are recited.

General Laws

  1. The couple traditionally honors attendees with appointing them to recite the Sheva Brachos. Because these blessings are meant especially for the (bride and) groom, it is better that the groom himself not recite them[1] and for the person reciting the blessings to face the couple.[2] However, if nobody else present is able to say the brachos, the groom may do so.[3]
  2. Many believe that the same person must recite all of the brachos,[4] but the near-universal practice is to permit dividing the brachos among various people, especially because there are usually several people who the family wants to honor.[5]
  3. The order of the brachos is not essential, meaning that if one made a mistake and skipped a bracha, he should recite the bracha that was skipped.[6]

Minyan

  1. One needs a Minyan to the sheva berachot, whether under the chuppah or during the week after.[7]
  2. This minyan does not have to be standing under the actual chuppah,[8] but must be able to hear the brachos directly and not through a microphone.[9]
  3. If only the final bracha of “Asher Bara” will be recited (see below), only three men need to have joined the meal and be present at Birkas Hamazon.[10]
  4. If the Sheva Brachos begun while a minyan was present, but then some of the people left before all of the brachos were recited, they may still continue to recite the remaining brachos.[11]
  5. If there is no minyan at the chuppah, some say that the couple should delay the marriage until they are able to find one[12] while others believe that it is better to get married as planned and then make the brachos later.[13]

Who is Included?

  1. The groom is included in the minyan,[14] as are any of his relatives, the mesader kiddushin, and the eidei kiddushin.[15]
  2. Women do not count towards the Minyan for sheva brachot.[16]
  3. A minor does not count for the minyan of sheva brachot.[17]

Cup of Wine

  1. Even under the chuppah (where the brachos are not recited with Birkas haMazon), the Sheva Brachos should be recited over a cup of wine.[18] If wine is not available, another alcoholic beverage can be used.[19]
  2. There is a dispute as to whether or not the brachos can be recited under the chuppah if there is no cup of wine or similar drink.[20]
  3. Regarding the cup under the chuppah, those reciting the brachos do not need to drink from the cup, but the bride and groom should at least taste from it.[21]
  4. When making Sheva Brachos after a meal, the Rama writes that two cups of wine should be used: one for bentching, and the other for the six brachos made for the couple.[22] However, not everyone agrees to this ruling, and the Shulchan Aruch writes that the custom is to use one cup.[23] This may be relied upon if only one cup of wine is available.[24]

Under The Chuppah

  1. After reading the kesubah, all seven brachos are recited under the chuppah, regardless of the status of the bride and groom[25] as long as 10 Jewish men are present.
  2. The custom has developed in almost all Jewish communities for these brachos to be recited while the bride and groom are under the chuppah, but before entering the yichud room[26]. If the brachos were not recited beforehand, they can still be recited several days later.[27]
  3. A new cup of wine should be used and not the one already used for Birkas Eirusin.[28] If one is using the same cup it must be refilled.[29]
  4. Some Poskim hold that everyone in the audience must stand for the Sheva Berachot recited under the Chuppah.[30]

Week after Marriage

  1. Where either the bride or groom have never been married before, meals can[31] be made in their honor for the seven days after their wedding, with the day of their wedding counting as the first day. These meals have the status of Se’udos Mitzvah, and it is therefore preferable to have meat and wine,[32] but Sheva Brachos are still recited if there was no meat or wine.[33]
  2. The sheva brachot are only recited at a meal in which bread is eaten and birkat hamazon is recited. [34]

Beit Chatanim

  1. According to some Sephardim, if the meals during the week after the wedding do not take place in the house of groom one may only make the bracha of hagefen and ashar bara (and not all sheva brachot). [35]

Panim Chadashot

  1. In order to recite all 7 berachot, one must invite someone who did not attend either the wedding or a previous sheva berachot. [36] While some poskim require that the panim chadashot be given a setting, others are more lenient; the minhag is to be lenient and allow calling in a stranger or waiter to count as panim chadashot. [37]
  2. The Panim Chadashot can come even in the middle or towards the end of the meal.[38]
  3. A woman cannot count as a panim chadashot.[39]
  4. A child cannot count as panim chadashot.[40]
  5. While many poskim hold that panim chadashot means only one new person, some hold that two are required.[41]

Who Needs to Eat Bread

  1. The accepted psak is that Sheva Brachos are recited only after a meal of bread, after Birkas Hamazon[42]
  2. Ideally, at least ten of the attendees should eat bread.[43] However, many poskim allow Sheva Brachos to be said if only seven people ate bread, and some even permit Sheva Brachos to be said if only three people ate bread, as long as there is a minyan in attendance.[44] Either way, the (bride and) groom themselves should have eaten bread.[45]

Second Marriages

  1. If both the Chatan and the Kallah have been previously married, Sheva Berachot is only recited for one day.[46]

Practices During the Week after Marriage

  1. A chatan is compared to a king. Just like a king wears fancy attire, so too a chatan should wear fancy attire.[47]

Links

Sources

  1. Teshuvah of Rabbi Avraham ben haRambam quoted in Maaseh Rokeach on Hilchos Ishus, referenced by Otzar Haposkim E.H. 62:1:8. See also Rama 34:1, Semag Aseh 48, Mordechai Kesuvos 131, Hagahos Maimoni Ishus 10:3, and Drisha to Tur E.H. 34:1 who add that the groom should not make the blessings so as not to embarrass a groom who wouldn’t be able to recite them himself.
  2. Maharil (Hilchos Nisuin) would face the bride and groom specifically for the blessing of “Sameach Tisamach,” and common practice is to do so for all of the brachos (see Shulchan Ha’Ezer 2:42). The Aruch Hashulchan (62:9) writes that ideally, the bride and groom should face East, and the person reciting the brachos should face West.
  3. Mordechai Kesuvos 131, Shut Maharsham 1:160, Sdei Chemed “Chasan V’Kallah” 18, all quoted in Otzar Haposkim 62:1:10.
  4. Shaarei Efraim on Hilchos Keriyas haTorah Shaar 9 Pischei Shearim 19, Shut Har Tzvi O.C. 44, cf. Pischei Teshuvos 61:17 that one person recites all of the blessings appears to be implied strongly by all of the Rishonim who discuss these brachos, especially considering that the brachos are considered smuchim to each other.
  5. See Igros Moseh E.H. 1:94, Tzitz Eliezer 6:2:5, Yabia Omer 4:7, and Mishneh Halachos 4:204 who all defend this practice, although none of these poskim appear to be so encouraging of the custom. Rav Moshe Feinstein notes that all those reciting the brachos should still make sure to listen and say amen to all of the others. See Otzar Haposkim 62:3:4 and Shut Bnei Banim 4:6 for further discussion of splitting the brachos generally as well as grouping various brachos together, such as the first two or the first six.
  6. Be’er Heitiv 62:3 quoting Rambam in Shut Pe’er Hador 9. Nitei Gavriel Nisuin 34:3 applies this to the bracha of “Hagafen” as well. Similarly, if there is no one who knows all of the brachos, they may still recite whatever brachos they know (Otzar Haposkim 62:3:1).
  7. The Gemara 7b-8a says that Birkat Chatanim needs a Minyan, based either upon the fact that Boaz assembled people at his marriage to Rus (Rus 4:11-12) or from Tehillim 68:27 (במקהלות ברכו אלקים וה' ממקור ישראל). Shitah Mekubetzes there adds another possible source, Vayikrah 22:32 (ונקדשתי בתוך בני ישראל). See Noda BiYhudah Kama E.H. 56. The Rishonim (see Kiddushin), debate whether or not this extends to Birkat Erusin as well or not, but they all agree that Birkat Chatanim does require a Minyan.
    If there aren't even ten men in the whole town, the Rashba (Shut 1:1167, Meyuchasot 185) holds that one absolutely needs ten people, as the Chachamim prohibited one to his wife for whom he did not make Sheva Berachot. On the other hand, the Terumat HaDeshen (140), quotes a Teshovot Maimoni who explains Chazal's terminology of "Kallah BeLo Beracha" to be more colloquial than literal, in reference to the Chuppah itself. The Beit Yosef (64:4) paskens like the Terumat HaDeshen, while the Rama, Chelkat Mechokek 3, and Beit Shmuel 4, pasken like the Terumat HaDeshen that one only needs a Minyan lechatechilah.
  8. Nitei Gavriel Nisuin 23:2, quoting Shut Nachalah L’Yisrael 62
  9. Nitei Gavriel Nisuin 23:5, as per the usual halachos regarding minyan. See Shulchan Aruch O.C. 124:4 and Shut Minchas Shelomo 9 regarding microphones.
  10. Aruch Hashulchan 62:11, explaining that the minyan is truly necessary only out of respect for the earlier bracha of “Shehakol Bara” and those referring to Yerushalayim. However, at least three men are needed in order to have a zimun for Birkas HaMazon
  11. Pischei Teshuvos 62:14, Aruch Hashulchan 62:13. The Nitei Gavriel (Nisuin 23:4) assumes that this is true only as long as the majority of the minyan remains.
  12. Shulchan Aruch and Beis Yosef 61:3 quoting the Rashba (Shut 1:1167, Meyuchasot 185)
  13. Terumas Hadeshen 2:140). The Rama, Knesses Hagedolah (E.H. 62), Chelkas Mechokek (62:3), Beis Shmuel (62:4) and Aruch Hashulchan (62:12) follow this latter opinion.
  14. Gemara Kesuvos 7b, Shulchan Aruch 62:7. The Netziv to Sheiltos and Aruch Hashulchan 62:11 explains that this is because the brachos are an expression of gratitude and praise to Hashem for the wedding, which is certainly felt by the groom as well as the participants. If the minyan is necessary in order to show honor to the couple, however, it would be difficult to explain why the groom is allowed to count towards the minyan.
  15. Chelkas Mechokek 34:7, Aruch Hashulchan 34:10. It stands to reason that if the groom himself can count towards the minyan, so should anyone else involved or their relatives.
  16. Shulchan Aruch EH 62:4, see Yabia Omer vol. 3 EH Siman 11
  17. Shulchan Aruch 62:4, Yabia Omer EH 3:11:6
  18. Maseches Kallah 1, Zohar 2 p. 169a. Sefer Hayashar of Rabbeinu Tam no. 620 implies that this custom was established by Rav Yehudai Goan, but the Aruch Hashulchan 62:7 believes that it was part of the original mitzvah of Sheva Brachos dating back to Moshe Rabbeinu. On the other hand, Tashbetz 3:65 disputes the requirement to have a cup of wine at all, as the Gemara (Kesuvos 8a) refers to making six blessings, and not seven.
  19. Shulchan Aruch E.H. 62:1
  20. Tashbetz 3:65 disputes the requirement to have a cup of wine as it is not mentioned in the Gemara, but Be’er Heitev 62:3 quotes the Rosh and Tur who imply that the cup is necessary. Aruch Hashulchan 62:7 rules that one must use a cup.
  21. Aruch Hashulchan 62:8. See Taz Y.D. 265:10 who writes that whenever a cup of wine is used, but is not mentioned explicitly in the Gemara, only tasting is required and not a whole cheek-full. See also Moadim Uzmanim 3:246
  22. Shulchan Aruch and Tur 62:9, based upon Tosfos Pesachim 102b and Rosh Pesachim 10:8 that one cannot use one cup for two purposes.
  23. Shulchan Aruch 62:9, and in the Beis Yosef there it is shown that many rishonim appear to have this view.
  24. Otzar Haposkim 62:53:2
  25. Shulchan Aruch 62:1, Rama 61:1. A possible exception is a man who remarries his previous wife, see Pischei Teshuvah 62:21 quoting Shut Radbaz 3:567, but the general consensus is that even in such a case, the Sheva Brachos should be recited at the chuppah and at the first meal (Otzar Haposkim 62:23).
  26. Rama 61:1 based upon Teshuvas HaRosh 26:2, despite the Shulchan Aruch 62:1. Darkei Moshe there explains that even if these brachos are considered blessings upon the mitzvah of getting married, and a birkas hamitzvah must be made prior to its performance, we rely upon the fact that according to some, the mitzvah of nisuin is not complete until the bride and groom enter the yichud room. See Aruch Hashulchan 61:19 and 55:19 that the completion of these brachos affects nisuin.
  27. Rambam Hil. Ishus 10:3, Rama E.H. 61:1. Aruch Hashulchan 61:19 and 62:12 writes that although the Maharshal writes that the brachos can only be said during the first week, the Rambam implies that they can be made even a long time afterward.
  28. Implied by Abudraham, Machzor Vitri 470, and Rama E.H. 65:3 regarding the special cup.
  29. Shulchan Aruch E.H. 62:1
  30. Orchos Chaim Hil. Kiddushin, Beer Heitiv E.H. 62:1, Erech Lechem E.H. 61, see Mishnah Brurah 128:51
  31. Although a meal can be made with Sheva Brachos for all seven days, there is no obligation to do so each day. See Yam Shel Shelomo Kesuvos 1:12, Aruch Hashulchan 640:14, Shut Rav Pealim 4:6
  32. Magen Avraham O.C. 640:13, Shut Maharam Shik 89, Shulchan Aruch Harav 249:8 (who writes there that the meal can even be made on Friday for this reason, although Ketzos Hashulchan 69:6 disagrees). A firstborn fasting on Erev Pesach is allowed to eat at a Sheva Brachos meal made on that day. (Kaf Hachayim O.C. 470:13)
  33. Otzar Haposkim 62:25:3 quoting Hisorerus Teshuva 2:103, who writes that the bride and groom are certainly happy enough even without eating meat or drinking wine.
  34. Hanisuin K'Hilchatan pg. 512
  35. Yalkut Yosef (Chupah VeKiddushin pg 301) rules that in order to make all 7 Brachot of Sheva Brachot one needs to fulfill three conditions: 1) it takes place in the house of groom, 2)there’s ten men there, and 3) there’s two new faces. On pg 307 he writes that when making a meal not in the house of the groom the one doing Zimmun makes Hagefen, and asher bara and then drink from the wine. He should also have the bride and groom and groom in mind and the bride and groom should have in mind to fulfill his obligation when making the Brachot and have them taste the wine afterwards. Siddur Kol Eliyahu (pg 916) which is based on the rulings of Rav Mordechai Eliyahu writes that the proper minhag is only to make the 7 Brachot when one is having the meal in the house of the bride and groom. However, some are lenient to have the 7 Brachot said by Ashkenazim who rely on those who say to make the Brachot. Rabbi Mansour on Daily Halacha quotes Chacham Baruch, Chacham Ovadyah Yosef, and Chacham Ezra Attiyah who agree that one can only two Brachot and not all sheva Brachot when it’s not taking place in the house of the groom. See Otzar haPoskim, Sh"t Vayashav HaYam vol. 2, Shemesh uMagen, Ohr LeTzion vol. 2, and Birkat Hashem vol.4 for different opinions.
  36. Gemara Ketubot 7b. See Panim Chadashot New Faces on chabad.org.
  37. Nitei Gavriel Hilchot Nisuin 2:87:1
  38. Nitai Gavriel (Nesuin vol. 2, 86:3)
  39. Nitei Gavriel Nissuin 87:3
  40. Nitei Gavriel Nissuin 87:4
  41. The Chelkat Mechokek EH 62:9 writes that you only need one new person for panim chadashot. This is also the opinion of the Aruch Hashulchan 62:24. Yabia Omer EH 3:11:2 is strict for the Rav Avraham Ben HaRambam (teshuva 86 and 110) in explaining the Rambam that two people are necessary.
  42. Maseches Sofrim 19:11 implies otherwise, but the Tur and Shulchan Aruch 62:5 indicate that only after a meal should Sheva Brachos be recited, and this is the ruling of the Aruch Hashulchan 62:26. See Yabia Omer 3:11:6 and Sefer Hanisuin K'Hilchatan p. 512 who write even Mezonos would be insufficient.
  43. Shut Shoel U’Meishiv Telisa’ah 1:198, Yabia Omer EH 3:11:6
  44. See Pischei Teshuva 62:8, Nitai Gavriel, Nesuin 102:2, Yabia Omer EH 3:11:6, and Otzar Haposkim 62:25:5
  45. Yabia Omer 6:10:9, Tzitz Eliezer 13:99:4, Otzar Haposkim 62:25:6
  46. Ketubot 7a, Shulchan Aruch Even HaEzer 62:6
  47. Pirkei DRabbi Eliezer 16