ח׳ בטבת ה׳תשע״ו (December 20, 2015)

Gittin 7a-b: The Garlands of Bridegrooms

In the context of messages sent back and forth “from Israel to Bavel”, the Gemara records a discussion about certain rabbinic enactments following the destruction of the Temple that limited the full celebration of weddings. The specific question that was raised relates to the atarot hatanim – crowns worn by the groom – a tradition that was discontinued as a sign of mourning over the hurban bet ha-mikdash. As a source for this, Rav Huna quotes a Mishna from Massekhet Sota (49a) that as a result of pulmus shel Aspasyanus – Vespasian’s war – grooms no longer wore these crowns.

The pulmus shel Aspasyanus that is referred to here is actually what is called “the Great Revolt”, which ended with the destruction of the Second Temple. It is called Vespasian’s war because Vespasian was the Roman general who presided over most of the fighting beginning from 67 CE.

The atarot hatanim under discussion were commonly worn by grooms on the occasion of their weddings at that time. The Gemara in Tractate , which is the source for this halakha, teaches that some wanted to replace the crowns with less elaborate symbols of celebration made of plants and flowers, but the conclusion of the Gemara is that those, too, should not be used. In Massekhet Sota, reference is made to other similar enactments, including a restriction of atarot kalot – crowns worn by a bride to her wedding – which was established after pulmus shel Titus. That enactment was limited, however, only to particularly unique crowns, which were called ir shel zahav. Other, simpler decorations remained permitted. The ir shel zahav was a special ornament made in the shape of a city wall. Such an ornament could only be worn by women from very wealthy families. Occasionally a special version was made that was called a Yerushalayim shel zahav.

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