A Sheva Brachos- A Time for Some Enthusiasm
Taste of Talmud
The Jewish wedding ceremony includes seven blessings which cover a wide gamut of topics. We praise G-d for creating us and we make note of the loss of the Bais Hamikdash. The blessings also include blessings to the new couple for happiness and success. The Talmud teaches us that whenever there is a quorum of men who dine together with the bride and groom during the first seven days following the wedding they have a Mitzvah to make these blessings. Rabbi Yehuda adds one important caveat. He states that there must be “panim chadashos” (a new face) within the quorum of men (Kesuvos 7b). What does this mean? Tosafos explains, that Rabbi Yehuda is teaching us, that the blessings may only be said, if there is at least one person who was not at the wedding ceremony, dining with them. He qualifies his remarks further by saying that it must be a person whose presence actually adds to the excitement and enthusiasm of the festivities. The Rambam qualifies the rule of panim
chadashos differently. According to the Rambam, Sheva Brachos are said by a quorum of men who are dining with the bride and groom only when there is someone in attendance who did not yet hear the seven blessings recited in honor of this bride and groom. Rav Kulefsky Zt”l, asks: What is the Halachic difference (nafka mina) between these two ways of defining panim chadashos?
Taste of Halacha
Case 1: A friend of the groom, who did not attend the wedding, makes a cameo appearance at a dinner in honor of the new couple. Unfortunately he was not able to stay until the end of the dinner. The
remaining assemblage had attended the wedding. Do they still have a Mitzvah to say the sheva brachos? Rav Kulefsky Zt”l explained that according to Tosafos, the fact that the groom’s friend had been in attendance and enhanced the happiness and enthusiasm of the occasion is reason enough for the entire assemblage to be obligated to recite the blessings again. However, according to the Rambam, they
may not say the blessings, because the only way a new person creates a new obligation is if he is there to hear the blessings, because they are for him. Case 2: The Bride’s nine year old brother and six year old sister were not able to attend the wedding because they were still contagious from having had the chicken pox. Thankfully, three days later they were cleared and were able to attend a festive dinner held in honor of the new couple. Does the attendance of a person who is not obligated in Mitzvos create a new obligation to recite the wedding blessings? Here, too, according to Tosafos, the added excitement of having the bride’s siblings in attendance creates a new obligation on the adults even though they had previously heard the blessings. However, according to the Rambam, the attendance of a new person only creates a new obligation if that person is obligated in Mitzvos, because it is his obligation, and therefore in this case they would not be able to say the Sheva Berachos.
Taste of Parasha
The Hebrew word “middah” literally translated means measure. Middos, the word used by our sages to refer to character traits, are the way we act and how we think and feel; they are the measure of man. In the classic mussar work entitled “Chovos Halevavos,” the author gives us an appreciation for the importance of developing proper middos. In reference to the trait of Zerizus, a combination of alacrity and enthusiasm, he says, “Zerizus beautifies all the other traits and improves them.” Harav Mordechai Katz Zt”l explains why a person who acts with alacrity and enthusiasm will become a person of refined character traits. A person’s external behavior affects his internal feelings so much so that by acting enthusiastically we develop in our heart a real desire and yearning to do what is good and just. By carrying out good deeds with alacrity, enthusiasm, vigor and vim we develop a love for Hashem. This is why it says in the Medrash that in the merit that Avraham Avinu “ran” to feed his guests, G-d said, “I will attach Myself to him and his descendants.” By running to do this Mitzvah, Avrahm Avinu showed that he had the attribute of Zerizus. Rabbi Katz concludes, “Whereas a lazy person will always find excuses, an enthusiastic person will always find a solution.”