Reciting Sheva Berachos: When and Where
Sheva Berachos are recited only after a meal which requires Birkas ha-Mazon
and in which Elokeinu is recited when the zimun takes place. Therefore:
- At least ten adult males, including the chasan, must be present and
partake of the meal.
- At least seven people must eat a k’zayis of bread.
- The remaining three men do not have to eat bread but must eat at least a
k’zayis of any food, or drink a revi’is (approximately 3 fl. oz.) of any
beverage except water. [These three people do not have to be present
throughout the meal. As long as they ate or drank at any time during the
meal, even if they ate or drank when the other seven were no longer
eating, zimun with Elokeinu and Sheva Berachos are recited.]
- Both the chasan and kallah must be present at the meal. Even if they
arrive late and miss much of the meal, they are considered as present for
the meal. If they did not eat bread, Sheva Berachos should not be
recited. If the chasan and kallah must leave before Birkas ha-Mazon,
some poskim hold that Sheva Berachos are omitted, while others require them
to be recited.
- If there will not be a minyan without him, a mourner may be counted as
one of the ten men required for Sheva Berachos.
The requirement of panim chadashos
Sheva Berachos cannot take place unless at least one of the adult male
participants is a panim chadashos, literally, “a new face”; i.e., he was not
present at the wedding dinner or at a previous Sheva Berachos for this
couple. If a panim chadashos is not present, Sheva Berachos are not recited,
but the final blessing, asher bara, is.
Preferably, the panim chadashos should make ha-motzi and remain for the
entire meal. If that is difficult to arrange, he may partake of anything
served at the meal. According to many poskim, even if he did not eat at
all, and even if he came after the meal was over but before the Sheva
Berachos were recited, he can still qualify as a panim chadashos.
Whether or not the panim chadashos must be present when the Sheva Berachos
are recited is a matter of dispute: Some poskim hold that if he partook of
the meal but left early the Sheva Berachos are not recited, while
others are not particular about it.
When Sheva Berachos take place at either one of the first two meals of
Shabbos or Yom Tov (both days), there is no need for an additional panim
chadashos. We consider the Shabbos and Yom Tov themselves to be eminent
“guests” who fulfill the role of panim chadashos. For the third
meal (seudah shelishis), panim chadashos are required unless formal
divrei Torah will be delivered at the meal.
Who is considered a panim chadashos?
According to some opinions, a panim chadashos is more than just a “new
face”; rather, it is a person whose presence adds a new dimension to the
celebration. Accordingly, a panim chadashos should be a person who is
well-known to the chasan or kallah or their parents, and whose presence adds
to the degree of simchah. Alternatively, a panim chadashos could be a
dignitary or a respected talmid chacham whose distinguished presence
enhances the meal even though he is not a personal friend of the couple or
their families. But if such a person is not available, any acquaintance
may be called upon to serve as a panim chadashos, provided that he is not a
A panim chadashos is a person who did not participate in any part of a
previous meal that was held to celebrate this couple’s marriage. Therefore:
- If he was present at the chupah but not at the wedding meal, he can
still be counted as a panim chadashos.
- If he ate at a previous Sheva Berachos meal but had to leave before
Sheva Berachos were recited, he can no longer qualify as a panim chadashos.
- If he heard the Sheva Berachos recited at the wedding meal or at a
previous Sheva Berachos meal, even though he did not partake of the meal, he
can no longer qualify as a panim chadashos.
Reciting Sheva Berachos
There are three opinions concerning who may recite Sheva Berachos. Some
hold that only those who ate bread may do so. Others allow anyone who
ate anything at all, even if he ate no bread, to recite Sheva Berachos.
Still others hold that even one who ate nothing at all may be honored with
reciting a berachah.
The chasan should not be honored with any of the Sheva Berachos.
Some poskim hold that the fourth, fifth and sixth berachos should be
recited by one person and not divided among three people. The custom,
however, follows the opinions who hold that all of the berachos may be split
up among the participants. It is proper that anyone honored with a berachah
pay careful attention [and remain silent] while all of the other berachos
1. While there are various opinions on this issue (some hold that it is
sufficient to have just three people eating bread), the common practice
today – based on safek berachos l’hakel – is as stated above.
2. Or enough cake that would require Birkas ha-Mazon. See The Weekly
Halachah Discussion, pgs. 478-480, for details.
3. B’diavad, even rov revi’is (1.6 fl. oz.) is sufficient.
4. Mishnah Berurah 197:12. Some poskim equate soda and lemonade with water
while others hold that they qualify as a “beverage”; see Vezos ha-Berachah,
pg. 130, who quotes both views.
5. “Any time” means before the participants decide not to eat any more or
before they wash for mayim acharonim; Rama O.C. 197:1 and Beiur Halachah
6. Many people assume that a zimun necessitates eating together – the
participants must actually eat together at least a bit, either in the
beginning or at the end of a meal. The halachah is clear, however, that as
long as the meal is still in progress and the participants could eat [even a
morsel of food; Sha’ar ha-Tziyun 197:2], even though they are no longer
actually eating anything, there is a zimun.
7. Tzitz Eliezer 13:99; Yabia Omer 6:9. See dissenting opinion in Sova
8. See the various views in Ha-Nisuin k’Hilchasam 14:87 and in Yismach Lev,
pg. 338 and 381.
9. Rav Akiva Eiger (Y.D. 391). He may also qualify as a panim chadashos; Rav
S.Z. Auerbach (Pnei Baruch, pg. 459).
10. According to some opinions two panim chadashos are required (Ben Ish
Chai, Shoftim 15, based on the view of the Rambam). Many Sephardim follow
this view (Yabia Omer 3:11).
11. E.H. 62:7.
12. Based on Sova Semachos 1:9.
13. Rama, E.H. 62:7; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 149:5; Rav N. Karelitz (Chut
Shani, Ribbis, pg. 185). Sephardim should not rely on this leniency.
14. Sova Semachos 1:12 quoting several poskim.
15. Rav M. Feinstein and Rav Y.S. Elyashiv, quoted in Yismach Lev, pg. 245.
16. According to many poskim, seudas Purim, too, is considered a panim
17. Even on Yom Tov (Shemiras Shabbos K’hilchasah 56, note 38).
18. Preferably, the divrei Torah should be said by the chasan (Chochmas Adam
129:5), but if he cannot, then any formal drashah of divrei Torah is
sufficient (based on Aruch ha-Shulchan 62:30).
19. E.H. 62:8. Note that divrei Torah may be used as a substitute for panim
chadashos only for seudah shelishis. During the week, or at any additional
meal on Shabbos or Yom Tov (beyond the mandatory three meals), panim
chadashos are required.
20. E.H. 62:8.
21. Rav M. Feinstein (Oholei Yeshurun 4:2).
22. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 149:5; Sova Semachos 1:7.
23. Sova Semachos 1:11.
24. Yabia Omer 3:11; Rav Y.S. Elyashiv (Beis Chasanim 12:6).
25. Rav M. Feinstein (Oholei Yeshurun 5:9), Rav Y. Teitelbaum (quoted in
Be’er Moshe 2:118), and other poskim.
26. Sova Semachos 4, note 74, quoting Rav E.Y. Finkel. Many people conduct
themselves according to this lenient view (ibid., note 72). See also Minchas
Shlomo 3:103:21 and Nefesh ha-Rav, pg. 257.
27. Minchas Yitzchak 3:114.
28. Sha’arei Efrayim, Pischei She’arim 9:19; Har Tzvi, O.C. 44. This is
because the fifth and sixth berachos do not begin with the words Baruch
Atah... which makes them a berachah ha-smuchah l’chaverta.
29. Igros Moshe, E.H. 1:94; Tzitz Eliezer 6:2; Sova Semachos 1:44.
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