Shiur #26: Laws of the Wedding The Sheva Berakhot (3)

  • Rav David Brofsky
In the previous shiur, we discussed numerous aspects of the sheva berakhot recited at the festive meals held for seven days after the wedding.
We noted that a number of Talmudic sources (Ketubot 7a; Sukka 25b; see Tosafot, ad loc., s.v. ein) imply that even during the shivat yemei mishteh, the birkat chatanim should only be recited at the place of the chuppa. The custom of Ashkenzic communities is to follow the authorities who maintain that wherever the couple celebrates is considered to be the beit chatanim, and the sheva berakhot may be recited there (Rosh ibid. according to Taz 62:7, see also Beit Shmuel 62:13; Kenesset Gedola 62:27).
We also noted that the Rosh writes that it is clear that the seven days of sheva berakhot should not begin from the time of the kiddushin, but rather from the time that the first sheva berakhot are first recited (Teshuvot 26:2; Chelkat Mechokek 62:7 explains that this refers to when the sheva berakhot recited under the chuppa are recited). The position is cited by the Rema (EH 62:6). Although some Acharonim cite a view that maintains that the sheva berakhot may be recited for seven complete days (i.e. mei-et le-et) from the time of the chuppa, the halakha is in accordance with those who maintain that seven calendaric days are counted.
The Acharonim (see Pitchei Teshuva, EH 62:8) also question a how many members of the minyan must actually eat in order to be able to recite the sheva berakhot. The Ben Ish Chai (Parashat Shoftim) writes that the sheva berkahot are only recited if the zimun is said “be-Shem” (i.e. with the name of God), which is only done when at least seven participants, the majority of the minyan, ate bread. Some Acharonim (including R. Shlomo Kluger, Ha-Elef Lekha Shelomo, OC 93, and the Minchat Pitim, EH 62) suggest that the sheva berakhot may be recited even if only three or four of the participants ate bread, as long as a majority of the quorum ate other foods. A number of Acharonim suggest that due to the principle of safek berakhot le-hakel, it is best if the sheva berakhot are recited only if at least seven members of the quorum ate bread and at least three others ate other foods. This seems to be the common practice (see Nisuin Ke-Hilkhata 14:41).
Some Acharonim (see Tzitz Eliezer 13:99, citing Ha-Elef Lekha Shelomo 93; R. Ovadia Yosef, Yabi’a Omer, EH 6:9, etc.) write that if the chatan and kalla do not eat bread, the sheva berakhot should not be recited at all. The Sova Semachot (1:100) disagrees and rules that even if the chatan did not eat, the sheva berakhot are recited.
May one who has not eaten bread say the sheva berakhot? Some Acharonim (see Zekhor Le-Avraham 2:2; Yaskil Avdi 8:20:28; see also Rivevot Ephraim 4:267) rule that even one who did not eat can say the sheva berakhot. This was apparently the custom of Brisk. Some maintain, however, that only one who ate bread should say the sheva berakhot (China Ve-Chisda, Ketubot 1:112; Cheshev Ha-Efod 1:9; Yabi’a Omer, EH 3:11:7). Others maintain that even one who ate foods other than bread at the meal may say the sheva berakhot.
Finally, we discussed whether every person who participates in the festive wedding meal must stay until the end of the meal and hear the sheva berakhot. R. Yonatan Shteif (1877-1958) (She’elot U-Teshuvot Mahari Shteif 7) explains that while there is an obligation to say the sheva berakhot in each place that a festive meal is held in honor of the chatan and kalla, there is no individual obligation upon each and every guest to stay and to hear the sheva berakhot. R. Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 11:84) disagrees with R. Shteif and maintains that each and every participant of the se’uda much hear the sheva berakhot. Therefore, Acharonim search for other reasons to exempt the guests at a festive wedding meal from hearing the sheva berakhot. R. Shlomo Kluger (Ha-Elef Lekha Shlomo, EH 107), for example, insists that the obligation of sheva berakhot is only created when birkat ha-mazon is recited, at the end of the meal. Therefore, one who leaves a festive meal early never became obligated in the communal recitation of the sheva berakhot. R. Moshe Feinstein (OC 1:56) suggests that if a person refrains from eating bread or has in mind when he begins the meal not to become obligated in a zimun, he would not be obligated in the sheva berakhot.
This week we will discuss the relationship between the sheva berakhot, the festive meal, and the zimun in greater depth.
The Relationship Between Sheva Berakhot and Birkat Ha-Mazon
Although it is customary to recite the sheva berakhot after the Birkat Ha-Mazon at the festive meals during the seven festive days following a wedding, the Rishonim debate whether the sheva berakhot are inherently connected to the meal.
On the one hand, the mishna in Masekhet Soferim (19:11) relates that “it was customary to recite the Birkat Chatanim and Birkat Aveilim upon a cup [of wine] in the morning, and with panim chadashot all seven days, and in the evening before the meal.” This mishna implies that the Birkat Chatanim are said before the meal – that is, that they are not inherently connected to the meal. The Vilna Gaon, in his comments to Masekhet Soferim, amends the text to read “after the meal.” The Rosh (Ketubot 1:13) relates that “there are some places where on Shabbat, after the conclusion of the prayers, the community escorts the chatan to his house and they recite the sheva berakhot.” He records that R. Hai Gaon disapproved of this practice but did not prohibit it.
On the other hand, the Talmud (Ketubot 8a) implies that the Sheva berakhot are only recited at the meal. Rabbeinu Nissim accepts this view, which is cited by the Rosh (above) as well. Some interpret the Rambam (Hilkhot Berakhot 2:10) in this manner.
This question may have a number of ramifications.
How Many Cups of Wine?
The Talmud (Pesachim 102b-103a) teaches that one may not perform two mitzvot with the same object, the principle of “ein osin mitzvot chavilot chavilot” (one does not perform mitzvot in bundles). Accordingly, the gemara rules that one should not use to same cup of wine for Birkat Ha-Mazon and Kiddush:
R. Huna said that R. Sheshet said: One does not recite two sanctifications [i.e., for two mitzvot such as Birkat Ha-Mazon and Kiddush] over one cup. What is the reason for this? R. Nachman bar Yitzchak said: Because one does not perform mitzvot in bundles.
The gemara questions why a beraita teaches that one may use the same cup of wine for Kiddush and Havdala when Yom Tov falls out on Saturday night.
And does one not perform multiple mitzvot together?  But there is the case of a Festival that occurs after Shabbat, when presumably one has enough wine. And nevertheless, Rav said that the proper order of the blessings is according to the acronym yod, kuf, nun, heh [the blessing over the wine [yayin], Kiddush, the blessing over the candle [ner], and Havdala.] This ruling shows that one recites Kiddush and Havdala over the same cup of wine.
The Talmud explains:
Havdala and Kiddush are one matter, as they both mark and draw attention to the sanctity of certain days. By contrast, Birkat Ha-Mazon and Kiddush are two entirely different matters. Therefore, one who recites both of them over the same cup of wine is combining two unrelated mitzvot, apparently so that he can be done with them as quickly as possible. Consequently, this practice is prohibited.
In other words, since Kiddush and Havdala are expressions of the same mitzva, they may be recited over the same cup of wine.
The Rishonim discuss whether the sheva berakhot should be recited on a different cup of wine than the Birkat Ha-Mazon. Tosafot (Pesachim 102b, s.v. she-ein) cites two opinions regarding this matter and relates that some are accustomed to say Birkat Ha-Mazon and Sheva Berakhot over different cups of wine. Similarly, the Ran (above) notes that Masekhet Sofrim states that one should use two separate cups, implying that the sheva berakhot are not necessarily related to the meal. Alternatively, Tosafot relates that Rabbeinu Meshulam would same them both over one cup, as “Birkat Ha-Mazon causes [i.e. generates the obligation of] sheva berakhot.” The Abudraham cites both customs and, similar to Rabbeinu Meshulam, he writes that “Birkat Ha-Mazon and the sheva berakhot come due to the meal.” A similar formulation is found in the Ritva (Ketubot 8a): “Birkat Chatanim comes after the meal, which causes it, and they are considered to be one matter (ke-chada milta chashivei).”
The Shulchan Arukh (EH 62:9) cites both practices, but relates that common practice is to use one cup of wine. The Rema (ibid.) also writes that it is customary to follow the opinion that requires two cups.
The Minchat Yitzchak (2:43) delineates the two approaches described above and asserts that common practice is to be concerned with both views. On the one hand, the sheva berakhot are only said after a meal, implying that they are part of the meal. On the other hand, it is customary to use two cups for Birkat Ha-Mazon and the sheva berakhot.
This may also relate to questions we discussed in previous shiurim. For example, discussed whether one may say the sheva berakhot on the seventh day after the wedding when the meal continues until the eighth day. Some suggest that one may say the sheva berakhot before dark, in the middle of the meal, as it is not at all clear that the sheva berakhot relate specifically to Birkat Ha-mazon. (We noted the custom is not to say the sheva berakhot in this case.)
In addition, this question may relate to whether it is necessary that at least ten participants of the meal eat bread, even though it is not necessary in order to say the zimun with shem Hashem. Similarly, this may also relate to another question we discussed last week – whether one may leave a festive meal before hearing the sheva berakhot.