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Celebrating Marriage in Ancient Israel and the Origins of Sheva Berakhot

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Stuart Miller

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Celebrating Marriage in Ancient Israel and the Origins of Sheva Berakhot

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Celebrating Marriage in Ancient Israel and the Origins of Sheva Berakhot

Jacob and Samson celebrate their marriages for seven days. The earliest mention of marriage ​blessings, however, is in the apocryphal book of Tobit and the Dead Sea Scrolls, both from the late second Temple times. 3, 5, 6 and even 7 blessings circulated in Jewish society before the rabbis formalized the series as the “Sheva Berakhot” by early medieval times. Their recitation by guests ​​during the celebratory week was promoted by the rabbis as occasions to engage in an “act of lovingkindness” ​(gemilut ḥasadim).​

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Celebrating Marriage in Ancient Israel and the Origins of Sheva Berakhot

Jewish Wedding in Morocco, Eugène Delacroix circa 1839. Louvre Museum, Wikimedia

The first celebration of a marriage in the Tanakh is when Laban hosts a feast (mishteh) marking Jacob’s wedding to his daughter.[1] The patriarch is famously duped into consummating his marriage to Leah instead of Rachel. Jacob expresses his indignation to Laban, who explains that it would have violated local customs to marry off his younger daughter first. Laban then informs Jacob that he may marry Rachel once the week-long celebration of his marriage to Leah is completed, but only on condition that he work for his uncle an additional seven years:

בראשית כט:כז מַלֵּא שְׁבֻעַ זֹאת וְנִתְּנָה לְךָ גַּם אֶת זֹאת בַּעֲבֹדָה אֲשֶׁר תַּעֲבֹד עִמָּדִי עוֹד שֶׁבַע שָׁנִים אֲחֵרוֹת. כט:כח וַיַּעַשׂ יַעֲקֹב כֵּן וַיְמַלֵּא שְׁבֻעַ זֹאת וַיִּתֶּן לוֹ אֶת רָחֵל בִּתּוֹ לוֹ לְאִשָּׁה.
Gen 29:27 Wait until the week of this one is over and we will give you that one too, provided you serve me another seven years.” 29:28 Jacob did so; he waited out the week of the one, and then he gave him his daughter Rachel as wife.[2]

Samson too celebrates his marriage to the Philistine woman from Timnah with seven days of feasting, which the following verse describes as a custom among the young men:

שופטים יד:י וַיֵּרֶד אָבִיהוּ אֶל הָאִשָּׁה וַיַּעַשׂ שָׁם שִׁמְשׁוֹן מִשְׁתֶּה כִּי כֵּן יַעֲשׂוּ הַבַּחוּרִים.
Judg 14:10 His father went down to the woman, and Samson made a feast there, as the young men were accustomed to do.
שופטים יד:יא וַיְהִי כִּרְאוֹתָם אוֹתוֹ וַיִּקְחוּ שְׁלֹשִׁים מֵרֵעִים וַיִּהְיוּ אִתּוֹ. יד:יב וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם שִׁמְשׁוֹן אָחוּדָה נָּא לָכֶם חִידָה אִם הַגֵּד תַּגִּידוּ אוֹתָהּ לִי שִׁבְעַת יְמֵי הַמִּשְׁתֶּה וּמְצָאתֶם וְנָתַתִּי לָכֶם שְׁלֹשִׁים סְדִינִים וּשְׁלֹשִׁים חֲלִפֹת בְּגָדִים.
Judg 14:11 When the people saw him, they brought thirty companions to be with him. 14:12 Samson said to them, “Let me now put a riddle to you. If you can explain it to me within the seven days of the feast and find it out, then I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty festal garments.

These two texts are the earliest evidence we have for weeklong festivities in Ancient Israel.[3]

Seven-Day Celebrations and the Introduction of Blessings in Second Temple Literature

The practice of a seven-day wedding celebration is attested in the Book of Tobit (ca. 2nd cent. B.C.E.), a Jewish book whose narrative is set in the Assyrian Israelite diaspora.[4] After celebrating his wedding with his in-laws in Ecbatana, the capital of Media (Tobit 11), Tobias, Tobit’s son, returns with his bride to Nineveh, where “all the Jews” of the city share in his joy with feasting and gift giving:

Tobit 11:17…When Tobit met Sarah the wife of his son Tobias, he blessed her saying, “Come in, my daughter, and welcome. Blessed be your God who has brought you to us, my daughter. Blessed be your father and your mother, blessed be my son Tobias, and blessed be you, my daughter. Come in now to your home, and welcome, with blessing and joy. Come in, my daughter.” So on that day there was rejoicing among all the Jews who were in Nineveh. 11:18 With merriment they celebrated Tobias’ wedding feast for seven days, and many gifts (Greek: gamos)[5] were given to him.[6] (NRSV)

Joseph and Aseneth, a Jewish text from Hellenistic Egypt,[7] expands upon the marriage of Joseph to Asenath, daughter of Potiphar (Pentephres) the Priest of On (Genesis 41:45). Pentephres wants to summon “all the noblemen, satraps and all the people of Egypt” to participate in a feast on the occasion, but Joseph goes off to Pharaoh, who is like a father to him, and asks him to solemnize the marriage instead (20:6–10). Pharaoh gladly complies and convenes a seven-day celebration for all of Egypt:[8]

Joseph and Aseneth 21:8 And after this, Pharaoh gave a marriage feast and a great dinner and a big banquet for seven days. And he called together all the chiefs of the land of Egypt and all the kings of the nations and proclaimed to the whole land of Egypt saying, “Every man who does (any) work during the seven days of Josephs’ and Aseneth’s wedding shall surely die.”

This story may be set in Egypt during the patriarchal period, but it reflects the cultural norms of its Hellenistic period Judean author. Along with the story from Tobit, it testifies that the practice in Second Temple period Judea was to celebrate a man’s taking of a wife for a whole week. This feasting was attended by, friends, neighbors, and very likely others who were strangers to the couple.[9]

While weeklong feasting during the late Second Temple period comes as no surprise in view of the earlier biblical evidence, what is novel at this point in time is the introduction of blessings in connection with the marriage. The earliest evidence for this is a scene elsewhere in Tobit[10] and also a text from Qumran.

Before consummating his marriage to Sarah, Tobias recites a blessing in which he notably invokes the imagery of Adam and Eve, the progenitors of humanity, whom God made into a couple:

Tobit 8:4 When (Sarah’s) parents had gone out and shut the door of the room, Tobias got out of bed and said to Sarah, “Sister, get up, and let us pray and implore our Lord that he grant us mercy and safety.” 8:5 So she got up, and they began to pray and implore that they might be kept safe. Tobias began by saying,

“Blessed are you, O God of our ancestors, and blessed is your name in all generations forever. Let the heavens and the whole creation bless you forever.
8:6 You made Adam, and for him you made his wife Eve as a helper and support. From the two of them the human race has sprung. You said (Gen 2:18), ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; let us make a helper for him like himself.’ 8:7 I now am taking this sister of mine, not for sexual gratification, but with sincerity. Grant that she and I may find mercy and that we may grow old together.”

8:8 And they both together said, “Amen, Amen.” 8:9 Then they went to sleep for the night.

Roughly contemporaneous with this passage is an extremely fragmentary papyrus[11] from Qumran (4Q502), which many think contains a rudimentary “Blessing of the Groom.” This fragment begins with a celebration of [ -- האדם ]וׄאשתו “[man and] his wife” who were brought into being ל֯עשות זרע “for the purpose of generating offspring.”[12]

Rabbinic Formulations and Requirements

Evidently, in the late Second Temple period, some Jews introduced a benediction acknowledging God for bringing together the first couple, Adam and Eve, thus making all future marriages possible. The Tobit story suggests that the marriage blessing was recited privately and was independent of any celebratory meal. Once the rabbis enter the picture, we hear of a “blessing of the grooms” (birkat ḥatanim), which, as we shall see, eventually incorporated the procreation theme.[13] The Mishnah includes the recitation of this “blessing” in a list of other formal liturgical rites that require a minyan, a quorum of ten:

משנה מגילה ד:ג{*ד} [קויפמן] אֵין פּוֹרְסִים אֶת שְׁמַע, וְאֵין עוֹבְרִים לִפְנֵי הַתֵּיבָה, וְאֵין נוֹשְׂאִים כַּפֵּיהֶם, וְאֵין קוֹרִין בַּתּוֹרָה, וְאֵין מַפְטִירִים בַּנָּבִיא, וְאֵין עוֹשִׂין מַעֲמָד וּמוֹשָׁב, וְאֵין אוֹמְרִים בִּרְכַּת אֲבֵילִים וַחֲתָנִים, וְאֵין מְזַמְּנִים עַל הַמָּזוֹן בְּשֵׁם, פָּחוּת מֵעֲשָׂרָה.
m. Megillah 4:3{*4} [Kaufmann] One may not apportion the Shema, nor may [anyone] pass before the ark, nor [may priests] raise their palms [for their priestly blessing], nor may [anyone] read from the Torah, nor complete [the Torah reading with a reading from] the prophets, nor perform a ma’amad u-moshav [a ritual for consoling mourners], nor may one recite the mourners’ blessing or the bridegrooms’ blessing, nor invite [others to recite Grace] upon meals with the Name—with fewer than ten [people].[14]

It is unclear from this Mishnah whether the groom’s blessing is to be said at a wedding, a celebratory meal, or some other context. In any event, the parallel version in the Tosefta relates more about mourning rituals[15] and then turns to the groom’s blessing, which is part of a celebratory meal, whether at the betrothal or the wedding:

תוספתא מגילה ג:יד ...אֵין אוֹמֵר בִּרְכַּת חֲתָנִים פָּחוּת מֵעֲשָׂרָה, וַחֲתָנִים מִן הַמִּנְיָן. אוֹמֵר בִּרְכַּת חֲתָנִים, בֵּין בִּסְעוֹדַת אֵרוּסִין, בֵּין בִּסְעוֹדַת נִשּׂוּאִין, בֵּין בַּחֹל, בֵּין בַּשַּׁבָּת.
t. Megillah 3:14 …One does not say the groom’s blessing with less than ten, and the groom counts as part of the quorum. One says the groom’s blessing whether at the meal for betrothal (erusin) or the meal for marriage (nisuin), whether on a weekday or on Shabbat.

This passage does not indicate whether the benedictions would have been incorporated into the Grace after Meals (birkat ha-mazon), as would eventually be the case, or recited as free-standing blessings independent of a meal as they were at the wedding itself.[16]

The Tosefta continues with the opinion of Rabbi Judah [bar Ilai], who limits when the blessings may be said to a precise situation:

תוספתא מגילה ג:יד ...רַבִּי יְהוּדָה אוֹמֵר: אִם בָּאוּ פָנִים חֲדָשׁוֹת, אוֹמֵר בִּרְכַּת חֲתָנִים, וְאִם לָאו, אֵין אוֹמֵר בִּרְכַּת חֲתָנִים.
t. Megillah 3:14 Rabbi Judah says: “If new faces arrive, the groom’s blessing is said. If not, the groom’s blessing is not said.”

While the insistence that “new faces” be in attendance for the recitation of the Sheva Berakhot might suggest that it is another occasion for the bride and groom to share their joy, a view that is commonly heard today,[17] R. Judah more likely was making a technical halakhic argument that the berakhah was only valid once a new celebrant was present.[18] That said, the view of R. Judah bar Ilai, who was a second century C.E. Tanna, appears to have been a minority position in the Land of Israel, as the Jerusalem Talmud does not mention a requirement to include “new faces.”[19]

In contrast, the requirement of “new faces” gained greater traction in Babylonia, where it is applied to both birkat ḥatanim and birkat aveilim (“blessing of the mourners”). While the Tosefta speaks of the wedding feast, it is unclear whether it envisions the blessings being repeated daily for the entire seven-day period. The first time this is explicitly stated is in a baraita (Tannaitic statement outside the Mishnah) in the Babylonian Talmud:

בבלי כתובות ז: [מנכין 95] תנו רבנן: מברכין ברכת חתנים כל שבעה.
b. Ketubot 7b Our rabbis taught: “The groom’s blessing is recited all seven days.”

The Bavli then continues with a modification put forward by the third-century Babylonian Amora, Rav Judah [bar Ezekiel], who, like the Tanna R. Judah , argues that people who have not yet heard the blessing must be present:

אמ[ר] רב יהודה: "והוא שבאו פנים חדשות."
Rav Judah said: “That is if new faces arrived.”[20]

As we shall see, the Babylonian Rav Judah will not only promote the requirement of “new faces” but also play an even greater role in formalizing the series of blessings.

How Many Blessings?

The Babylonian Talmud relates a brief anecdote about a third-century Palestinian sage named Levi, who reportedly once recited five blessings, and another about a fifth-century Babylonian sage name Rav Ittai,[21] who recited six blessings:

בבלי כתובות ח. [מנכין 95] לוי איקלע לבי ר[בי] בהלוליה דר' שמעון ב"ר[בי], בריך חמש.
b. Ketubot 8a Levi arrived at Rabbi [Judah HaNasi]’s house at the wedding of Rabbi Simeon son of Rabbi, and recited five blessings.
רב אתי איקלע לבי רב אשי בהלולי דמר בר רב אשי ובריך שית.
Rav Ittai arrived at the house of Rav Ashi for the wedding celebration of Mar son of Rav Ashi, and recited six blessings.

The practice of reciting six blessings was recorded earlier in the Talmud in the name of the second-generation Babylonian amora, Rav Judah [bar Ezekiel], who presents the specific text of each (see appendix). Rav Judah’s blessings stood the test of time, and became known as the שבע ברכות “Seven Benedictions” when in the Geonic period, a benediction over wine was added.[22]

The Babylonian Talmud also records how the third-generation Palestinian Amora, Rabbi Tahlifa bar Maʿarava, was said to have recited an extended version of the six benedictions:

בבלי כתובות ח. רב תחליפא בר מערבא איקלע לבבל בריך שית אריכתא ולית הילכתא כוותיה.
b. Ketubot 8a Rabbi Tahlifa bar Maʿarava (“of the West”) arrived in Babylonia; he recited six extended blessings. But the law is not in accordance with him.

Presumably the six blessings refer to those formulated by Rav Judah, though the passage does not explain what is meant by “extended.” Be that as it may, what is clear is that the series of blessings and their content were in a state of flux for some time before a more standardized version emerged.

The Original Custom: Three Blessings?

While the Babylonian Talmud speaks of five or six blessings as possibilities, even quoting the practice of Palestinian rabbis (Levi and Tahlifa) for support, a post-Talmudic source, החילוקים שבין אנשי מזרח ובני ארץ informs us that those living in the Land of Israel recited only three:

החילוקים כח אנשי מזרח מברכין את החתן בשבע ברכות, ובני ארץ ישראל בג'.[24]
Differences §28 The easterners (=Babylonians) bless the groom with seven blessings, while in the Land of Israel, [they bless him with] three.

It is not certain what the three blessings recited in Israel were, but Saul Lieberman argues that the three-fold benediction was likely the original custom. He calls attention to the “Blessing of Mourners” in the Tosefta (Berakhot 3:23–24), which is often discussed in the same contexts and very clearly consisted of three blessings.[25] Lieberman argues on the basis of midrashic texts reproduced below that like the blessing of the mourners, the third and final blessing of the grooms would have acknowledged the role played by the celebrants in bestowing kindness.[26]

The Communal Role in Weddings and Mourning

The Jerusalem Talmud states that both the seven days of mourning and the seven days of wedding celebration were instituted by Moses:

ירושלמי כתובות א:א [כה.] משה התקין שבעת ימי המשתה ושבעת ימי האבל.
j. Ketubot 1:1 [25a.] Moses established the seven days of celebration [for marriage] and the seven days of mourning.[27]

While wedding celebrations and grieving for the dead might seem unrelated, for the rabbis each afforded people an opportunity to participate: In the case of a wedding, they serve as gladdeners, in the case of a death, as consolers.[28]

All humans wish to experience simchah (“joy”) and all, unfortunately, will someday mourn for a loved one and need consolation. This is why for the rabbis these are “acts of righteousness” (gemilut ḥasadim) incumbent upon all, regardless of whether they know the celebrants or the mourners. The individual and the larger community to which they belong are responsible for each other.[29]

God Also Gladdens and Comforts

The rabbis imagine that God too gladdened the bride and groom and comforted mourners As R. Abbahu (3rd/4th cent. Palestine) explains in his elaboration of the verse about the creation of humans, “God blessed them” (Genesis 1:28):

בראשית רבה בראשית ח [תיאודור-אלבק] אמר ר' אבהו: נטל הקדוש ברוך הוא כוס ברכה ובירכן.
Gen Rab 8 Rabbi Abbahu said: “The Holy One, blessed be He, raised a cup of blessing and blessed them [i.e., Adam and Eve].”

Other rabbis continue the theme:

אמר ר' יהודה בר' סימון: מיכאל וגבריאל הם היו שושבינין שלאדם הראשון. אמר ר' שמלאי: מצינו שהקב"ה מברך חתנים ומכשט כלות ומבקר חולים וקובר מתים ומברך ברכת אבלים.
Rabbi Judah be-Rabbi Simon said: “Michael and Gabriel were attendants upon Adam for his wedding.” Rabbi Simlai said: “We have found that the Holy One praised be He, blessed grooms, decorates brides, visits the sick, buries the dead, and recites the mourner's blessing.”[30]

The implicit message in these homilies is that God’s involvement in such matters makes it especially worthy of emulation.[31]

Solomon’s Two Gates: Mourners and Grooms

A post-Talmudic midrashic collection from the Land of Israel, Pirkei deRabbi Eliezer, relates (ch. 17) that Solomon built two gates on the Temple mount, one for grooms and the other for mourners. On Shabbat, people would gather between the gates כְּדֵי שֶׁיֵּצְאוּ כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל יְדֵי חוֹבָתָן בִּגְמִילוּת חֲסָדִים “so that all of Israel would fulfill their obligation to bestow lovingkindness.” The text continues by relating what the practice should be, after the Temple has been destroyed:

פרקי דרבי אליעזר יז מִשֶּׁחָרַב בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ הִתְקִינוּ שֶׁיִהְיוּ חֲתָנִים וַאֲבֵלִים הוֹלְכִין לְבָתֵּי כְנֵסִיּוֹת וּלְבָתֵּי מִדְרָשׁוֹת, וְאַנְשֵׁי הַמָּקוֹם רוֹאִין אֶת הֶחָתָן וּשְׂמֵחִים עִמּוֹ, וְרוֹאִין אֶת הָאָבֵל וְיוֹשְׁבִים עִמּוֹ עַל הָאָרֶץ, כְּדֵי שֶׁיֵּשְׁבוּ וְיֵצְאוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל יְדֵי חוֹבָתָן בִּגְמִילוּת חֲסָדִים.
Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer 17 Following the destruction of the second temple, it was established that grooms and mourners would go to the synagogues and study houses, so that the local people can see the grooms and rejoice with them and see the mourner and sit with him on the ground, again, so that all of Israel would fulfill their obligation to bestow lovingkindness.

A berakhah is even recited:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' גּוֹמֵל שָׂכָר טוֹב לְגוֹמְלֵי חֲסָדִים.
Blessed are You Lord, who recompenses those who engage in acts of kindness with a great reward.[32]

God Rewards Laban’s Lovingkindness

A different section of Pirkei deRabbi Eliezer brings matters full circle, back to the story of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel, with which we began.[33] The purpose of participation in the wedding feast now comes clearly into focus:

וְנֶאֶסְפוּ כָּל אַנְשֵׁי הַמָּקוֹם לִגְמֹל חֶסֶד עִם יַעֲקֹב, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר [בראשית כט:כב] וַיֶּאֱסֹף לָבָן אֶת כָּל אַנְשֵׁי הַמָּקוֹם וַיַּעַשׂ מִשְׁתֶּה. אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, אַתֶּם גְּמַלְתֶּם חֶסֶד עִם יַעֲקֹב עַבְדִּי, אַף אֲנִי אֶתֵּן לָכֶם שְׂכַרְכֶם בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה.
And all the people gathered to bestow lovingkindness upon our patriarch Jacob, as it is written (29:22): “And Laban gathered all the people of the place and made a feast.” The Holy One, blessed be He said: “Since you have bestowed lovingkindness upon Jacob, my servant, so too will I grant your reward in this world.”

An Opportunity for Communal Kindness

Long before the rabbis, the people of Israel celebrated a marriage with a weeklong feast. In the Second Temple Period, some Jews introduced blessings that acknowledged God for his creation of humankind, which allowed for the bringing together of future brides and grooms. Subsequently, other blessings were introduced. Eventually, the rabbis would standardize the series and texts of the blessings that had been circulating in their time. This was a process that continued into Late Antiquity.

Much more was at stake for the rabbis than the happiness of the couple. Certainly, it was not the joy of Jacob or that of the patriarch together with each of his wives, Leah and Rachel, that they emphasized when promoting the recitation of the “blessing of the grooms.” The rabbis formalized and sanctioned what became known as the “Sheva Berakhot” because they regarded its recitation as an opportunity for “all the people” to engage in gemilut ḥasadim.

Appendix

The Six Blessings

Below is the contemporary text of the Sheva Berakhot. It is almost identical to the Babylonian Talmud’s version, which differs slightly depending on the manuscript. (In modern texts, the numbering would be different, since the first blessing would be that over the wine, and thus, these would be 2–7):

1

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱלהֵינוּמֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהַכֹּל בָּרָא לִכְבוֹדוֹ.
Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the Universe, for whose honor all has been created.

2

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּא ה' אֱלהֵינוּמֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, יוֹצֵר הָאָדָם.
Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the Universe, fashioner of humanity.

3

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּא ה' אֱלהֵינוּמֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר יָצַר אֶת הָאָדָם בְּצַלְמו, בְּצֶלֶם דְּמוּת תַּבְנִיתוֹ וְהִתְקִין לוֹ מִמֶּנּוּ בִּנְיַן עֲדֵי עַד, בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה', יוֹצֵר הָאָדָם.[34]
Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the Universe who fashioned Man (=Adam) in His image, in the image of the likeness of His form, and prepared for him out of him (i.e., Eve from his rib) an everlasting abode. Blessed are You LORD, fashioner of humanity.[35]

4

שׂוֹשׂ תָּשִׂישׂ וְתָגֵל הָעֲקָרָה, בְּקִבּוּץ בָּנֶיהָ לְתוֹכָהּ בְּשִׂמְחָה, בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה', מְשַׂמֵּחַ צִיּוֹן בְּבָנֶיהָ.
May the barren one (i.e., Jerusalem) be exceedingly joyful and rejoice when her children are assembled within her midst in joy. Blessed are You, LORD, who gladdens Zion by means of her children.

5

שַׂמֵּחַ תְּשַׂמַּח רֵעִים הָאֲהוּבִים, כְּשַׂמֵּחֲךָ יְצִירְךָ בְּגַן עֵדֶן מִקֶּדֶם, בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה', מְשַׂמֵּחַ חָתָן וְכַלָּה.
Grant abundant joy to the beloved companions, like the joy of your creation in the Garden of Eden of old. Blessed are You Lord who gladdens the groom and bride.

6

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱלהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר בָּרָא שָׂשׂוֹן וְשִׂמְחָה, חָתָן וְכַלָּה, גִּילָה, רִנָּה, דִּיצָה, וְחֶדְוָה, אַהֲבָה וְאַחֲוָה וְשָׁלוֹם וְרֵעוּת. מְהֵרָה ה' אֱלהֵינוּ יִשָּׁמַע בְּעָרֵי יְהוּדָה וּבְחוּצוֹת יְרוּשָׁלָיִם, קוֹל שָׂשׂוֹן וְקוֹל שִׂמְחָה, קוֹל חָתָן וְקוֹל כַּלָּה, קוֹל מִצְהֲלוֹת חֲתָנִים מֵחֻפָּתָם וּנְעָרִים מִמִּשְׁתֵּה נְגִינָתָם. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה', מְשַׂמֵּחַ חָתָן עִם הַכַּלָּה.
Blessed are You LORD our God, King of the Universe who created gladness and joy, groom and bride, rejoicing, exultation, amusement, merrymaking, love and harmony, peace and companionship. LORD, our God, may there speedily be heard in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem the sound of mirth and joy, the sound of groom and bride, the sound of joyful shouts of grooms from their marital canopy and of youths from their songful feasts. Blessed are You LORD, who gladdens the groom with the bride.

Published

May 19, 2023

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Last Updated

June 17, 2024

Footnotes

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Prof. Stuart S. Miller is Professor Emeritus of Hebrew, History, and Judaic Studies at the University of Connecticut at Storrs, where he also served as chair of the Hebrew and Judaic Studies Section (“HEJS”) in the Department of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages and as Academic Director of the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life. Miller holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies and History from New York University, and is the author of Studies in the History and Traditions of Sepphoris (Brill, 1984); Sages and Commoners in Late Antique ’Erez IsraelA Philological Inquiry into Local Traditions in Talmud Yerushalmi (Mohr-Siebeck, 2006), and At the Intersection of Texts and Material FindsStepped Pools, Stone Vessels, and Ritual Purity among the Jews of Roman Galilee (V&R 2015). He is presently preparing a sequel to his first book on Sepphoris (Tsippori).