A discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the
week. For final rulings, consult your Rav.
SELECTED HALACHOS RELATING TO PARSHAS TOLDOS
MARRIAGE IN HALACHA
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:
DURING THE ENGAGEMENT:
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
THE PROPER TIME AND PLACE OF THE WEDDING:
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
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).
THE DAY OF THE WEDDING:
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
UNDER THE CHUPAH:
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
DURING THE MEAL:
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):
Dance and sing along.
Recite one of the seven blessings under the chupah or in Birkas ha-Mazon;
Praise the groom to the bride or vice-versa;
Engage the bride or groom in small talk about the happiness of the
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
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
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
13 Sefaradim, however, did not accept this custom; Sdei Chemed (Chasan
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
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
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
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
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.