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Weekly Halacha

Selected Halachos Related to Parshas Toldos

By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt

A discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the week. For final rulings, consult your Rav.



The following are some lesser-known halachos and customs of marriage that do not fall strictly within the domain of an officiating rav, but are vital for a couple, their parents, and their wedding guests to know:


All of the restrictions of yichud and physical contact between men and women are in full effect for an engaged couple until after the chupah(1).

An engaged couple may not live together in the same house even when there is no question of yichud (2).

It is an ancient and widely accepted custom for the groom to send(3) gifts to the bride during their engagement. To avoid the danger of the gifts being mistaken for a form of kiddushin(4)- a legitimate concern especially when a ring is given as a sign of commitment(5)- the following precautions are recommended: No witnesses should be present at the time the gifts are given to the bride or when the groom gives the gifts to the messenger to give to the bride. The groom should not say that the gift is being given as a token of commitment or as an engagement present; rather it should be given simply as a gift.

Although it is a widespread custom to do so, it is improper to write a pasuk, or part of a pasuk, on a wedding invitation, since invitations are generally discarded(6).


If two brothers or two sisters [or a younger sister and an older brother(7)] are engaged to be married at the same time, the older one must get married first. It is permitted, however, for a younger brother or sister to become engaged and married before their older sibling becomes engaged(8).

There is a custom followed by some people not to get married in the second half of the Hebrew month(9). If, however, this constraint will delay the wedding unnecessarily, many authorities agree that the custom should be sidestepped to avoid undue delay(10).

When scheduling a wedding, it is important to allow enough time to finish all the pre-chupah arrangements in time for the chupah to take place on the date which is written on the kesubah. Some poskim maintain that if the kesubah has a different date from when the kiddushin actually took place, the kesubah is invalid(11). At the very least, it is important to make sure that the legal transaction of the kesubah (kinyan) takes place before nightfall(12).

It is an ancient custom(13) to perform the chupah ceremony under an open sky14. Several poskim mention, however, that if the bride and groom insist on the chupah taking place inside, there is no reason to object and argue about it since it is not forbidden to do so(15).


It is customary for the bride and groom to fast(16) on the day of their wedding [except on the days when it is forbidden to fast(17)], until after the chupah(18). They are allowed to rinse their mouth or brush their teeth, even with toothpaste(19).

If the chupah is delayed well past nightfall and the bride and groom are hungry, they may break their fast before the chupah, provided that no alcoholic beverages are consumed(20).

A bride and groom who find it very difficult to fast do not have to fast at all(21), but they should eat only a limited amount of food(22).

If the day of the wedding falls on a day when the Torah is read, the groom must be called up to the Torah. His "obligation" supersedes anyone else's, such as a bar mitzvah or a person whose parent's yahrtzeit is that day(23).

Traditionally, the bride and groom recite aneinu24 and add the viduy supplication at the conclusion of their Minchah prayers(25). The groom, however, should not forgo davening with a tzibbur for this or any other reason(26).


Relatives of the bride, groom, or each other, either by blood or marriage, are not valid witnesses for the kiddushin. Although certain distant relatives (e.g., a cousin's cousin, a brother-in-law's brother-in-law, a brother's father-in-law) may be allowed halachically, some poskim advise that no relative- however distant- act as a witness for the kiddushin(27).

The groom should not speak between the blessing over the kiddushin and the placing of the ring on the bride's finger(28).

The bride and groom must have specific intent to be yotzei with the blessing over the kiddushin and the blessing of Borei pri ha-gafen(29).

The ring must be paid for entirely(30) and belong to the groom exclusively(31). If the groom's parents or anybody else bought the ring, the groom must "buy" the ring from them in a halachically binding purchase (kinyan)(32).


It is a Rabbinical(33) mitzvah to rejoice with the bride and groom at their wedding. Everybody in attendance is obligated to do so and may discharge their obligation in a number of ways(34):

  1. Dance and sing along.
  2. Recite one of the seven blessings under the chupah or in Birkas ha-Mazon;
  3. Praise the groom to the bride or vice-versa;
  4. Engage the bride or groom in small talk about the happiness of the occasion;
  5. Give a gift.

A dignitary discharges his obligation by merely being present.


1 Chelkas Mechokek E.H. 55:1.

2 Rama E.H. 55:1 and Knesses ha-Gedolah, ibid. See also Sdei Chemed (Chasan v'Kalah 12).

3 Through a messenger; see Ta'amei ha-Minhagim 938.

4 See E.H. 45 for the many views and possible problems which may result.

5 Kisvei Harav Henkin (Perushei Ivra 5:13).

6 Igros Moshe Y.D. 2:135; Harav S.Y. Elyashiv (Apiryon l'Shelomo, pg. 25). See also Mishnah Berurah 638:24, who prohibits writing a pasuk on fruit which will be used as a succah decoration.

7 There are conflicting opinions, however, as to whether a brother must allow his older sister to get married before he does, since the brother is explicitly commanded to get married, while the sister is not; see Maharsham 3:136, Avnei Chefetz 25 and Chelkas Yaakov 1:125.

8 Shach Y.D. 244:13, as explained by Maharash Engel 6:102 and Igros Moshe E.H. 2:1. See also Igros Chazon Ish 1:166.

9 Rama E.H. 64:3. Others have a custom that a wedding may take place until the 18th or the 22nd day of the month. In addition, some do not follow this restriction in the months of Tishrei, Kislev, Adar, Iyar, Av, and Elul.

10 Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 166:3. See also Aruch ha-Shulchan E.H. 64:13 and Igros Moshe E.H. 1:93, who maintain that most people do not follow this custom.

11 Igros Moshe E.H. 4:105-3; O.C. 5:9-2. See also written responsum from Harav S.Z. Auerbach (published in Kovetz Aharon v'Yisrael, Cheshvan 5755) that such a document is completely "false".

12 Beis Shemuel E.H. 66:7. According to Igros Moshe (ibid.) this is not sufficient.

13 Sefaradim, however, did not accept this custom; Sdei Chemed (Chasan v'Kalah 1).

14 Rama E.H. 61:1. Some insist that the chupah take place outdoors [not in an enclosed room with an opening in the ceiling like a skylight], and there is a valid source for their custom; Eizer Mekudash 55:1.

15 Imrei Eish O.C. 9; Igros Moshe E.H. 1:93; Yabia Omer 3:10. See these sources for a similar discussion regarding a chupah in a shul. Many poskim in Europe prohibited it for various reasons but others ruled more leniently.

16 No pre-acceptance of the fast is required; Mishnah Berurah 562:11; Be'er Moshe 3:75.

17 On certain days throughout the year, such as isru chag, Rosh Chodesh Nissan, Lag ba-Omer, and others, there are conflicting opinions and customs as to whether a bride and groom fast. A rav should be consulted.

18 Rama O.C. 562:2 and 573:1. This custom, too, was not accepted in most Sephardic communities since they considered the day of their wedding as a Yom Tov. Even today, Sephardic Jews should uphold their custom and not fast; Yabia Omer 3:9.

19 O.C. 567:3 and Mishnah Berurah 12.

20 Chochmas Adam 115:2; Pischei Teshuvah E.H. 61:21; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 146:1; Sdei Chemed (Chasan v'Kalah 4); Harav Y. Y. Kanievsky (Orchos Rabbeinu 2:164). See Aruch ha-Shulchan E.H. 61:21, who maintains that when possible, the fast should continue until after the chupah, even if it is after nightfall.

21 Aruch ha-Shulchan E.H. 61:21.

22 Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 573:4.

23 Beiur Halachah 136:1. It remains unclear, however, if this is so if the chupah will take place after nightfall.

24 Rama O.C. 562:2.

25 Pischei Teshuvah E.H. 61:9; Mishnah Berurah 573:8. These customs, too, were not accepted by the majority of Sefaradim; Yabia Omer 3:9.

26 See Sha'arei Teshuvah O.C. 562:2.

27 Harav S. Wosner (Apiryon l'Shelomo, pg. 40). See also ha-Nisuin K'hilchasam 8:24.

28 Pri Megadim (Pesicha, Berachos 14); since some Rishonim maintain that the blessing over the kiddushin is a birkas ha-mitzvos. It is prohibited to speak between a blessing and the mitzvah which follows.

29 See Pischei Teshuvah E.H. 34:5 and Afikei Yam 2:2.

30 Avnei Miluim 28:33.

31 E.H. 28:1.

32 Aruch ha-Shulchan E.H. 28:84. See Otzar ha-Poskim 28:1-9,1-19.

33 Rambam, Hilchos Avel 14:1.

34 See E.H. 65:1 and Eizer Mekudash for the many ways in which this mitzvah can be fulfilled.

Weekly-Halacha, Copyright © 2001 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and Project Genesis, Inc.

Rabbi Neustadt is the principal of Yavne Teachers' College in Cleveland, Ohio. He is also the Magid Shiur of a daily Mishna Berurah class at Congregation Shomre Shabbos.

The Weekly-Halacha Series is distributed L'zchus Hayeled Doniel Meir ben Hinda. Weekly sponsorships are available--please send email to the moderator, Dr. Jeffrey Gross

The series is distributed by the Harbotzas Torah Division of Congregation Shomre Shabbos, 1801 South Taylor Road, Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118--HaRav Yisroel Grumer, Marah D'Asra



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