The seven days of celebration

The seven days of celebration

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It is a great Mitsva to make the groom and the bride happy (לשמח חתן וכלה). This Mitsva is fulfilled by being present in their wedding, dance with them and praise them.

This Mitsva could be fulfilled during the day of the wedding and during the following seven days as well, known in Hebrew as shib’at yeme hamishte, the seven days of celebration.

These days are marked by specific Laws and customs. Some illustrations:

1. The bride and the groom should refrain from performing labor during the week following their wedding. This is not the same prohibition as Shabbat or festive days (Yom Tob). Rather, the couple should avoid activities that will distract them from rejoicing. Nevertheless, there are some exceptions where the couple or one of them would be allowed to perform certain works (a time-sensitive business, a public service, etc).

2. During these days the bride and the groom should wear festive clothing and hold festive meals. It is a very old custom for relatives and friends to prepare the meals for the couple and host them in different locations. In the times of the Talmud the families and friends of the bride and groom would come (with the food) to celebrate at the new couple’s home (bet hatanim).

3. During this week, the couple is not formally obligated to make from every meal a festive celebration, they are permitted to eat normal, quiet meals as well. However, when the couple attends a meal in their honor which satisfies certain conditions (as we will explain later on) then the Sheba’ Berakhot, the seven blessing for  the bride and the groom, should be recited at the end of Bircat haMazon (Grace after a meal).

4. The seven blessings are recited only when the follwoing conditions are met:

a.There must be ten adult males present (the hatan is considered one of them).

b.The meal has to take place in the residence of the bride and groom (bet hatanim).

c. There must be at least two new guest (panim hadashot), who did not participate in the wedding and previous sheba’ berakhot.

When one of these conditions is not met, then if at least three adult male are partaking of the formal meal, they recite just the last berakha, asher bara

In some Sephardic communities in the diaspora the sheba berakhot are recited, whether the meal is taking place in the house of the groom or in a different place (consult your local rabbi). The  other two conditions, panic hadashot and minyan, are identical for every Sephardic community.

The Ashkenazi custom also allows to recite the sheba berakhot even if the meal does not take place in the residence of the new couple, and even if just one new guest, not two, is present at the occasion (Rabbi Knohl).

5. When the Sheba Berakhot are recited, the custom is to have two cups of wine: with the first cup, one says Birkat haMazon and at the end of the Sheba Berakhot, he himself says “bore peri hagefen”. With the second cup, they say the other six berakhot. Once the last berakha is recited, the wine of the two cups is mixed and given to the bride and the groom.   When only the berakha Asher Bara is recited, the custom is to say first bore peri hagefen and then asher bara.