כ״א בשבט ה׳תשע״ה (February 10, 2015)

Ketubot 8a-b: Seven Blessings

Our Gemara discusses the seven blessings that are made at a Jewish wedding, and also recited afterwards. For the entire week after the wedding, celebratory meals in honor of the bride and the groom are accompanied by sheva berakhot – a series of seven unique blessings that are added to birkat ha-mazon, the grace after meals. These blessings include statements that welcome the wedding guests, recall the creation of Adam and Chava, mention the consolation of Jerusalem (based on the passage in Tehillim 137:6), and finally wish the new couple well at their wedding and their future endeavors.

It is interesting to note that the Gemara describes situations where six blessings were recited, even though the special blessings have been referred to in Rabbinic literature as sheva berakhot – seven blessings – since before the time of the rishonim. It is clear that, already in the time of the ge’onim, the blessing of borei peri ha-gafen on a cup of wine was added to the special wedding blessings, which would, indeed, create a set of seven berakhot. The Roḳeaḥ brings proofs from the Talmud Yerushalmi that seem to support the idea that the blessing over a cup of wine was part-and-parcel of the wedding ceremony. Other sources (Siddur Rav Amram Ga’on, for example) suggest that an additional blessing was made over a hadas as part of the ceremony. There are also opinions which seemingly indicate that it was common practice to recite both a borei peri ha-gafen on a cup of wine and a borei minei besamim on a hadas during the wedding ceremony.

In his Sefer HaYashar, Rabbeinu Tam deals with this question differently. As we have learned, it is common practice today to combine the kiddushin and nissu’in in one ceremony under a ḥuppa. Thus, the blessing that is made on the betrothal, along with the six marriage blessings, comprise the sheva berakhot.

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