Rejoicing with the Chosson and Kallah
(This should not be relied upon for practical halacha. When a question arises a Rabbi should be consulted.)
It is a great mitzvah to rejoice with the chosson and kallah at their wedding [simchas chosson v’kallah] (Shuchan Aruch Even Haezer 65:1. According to most authorities the mitzvah is rabbinic in nature, see Rambam Avel 14:1 and Sdei Chemed Chosson V’Kallah 13).
It is one of the outstanding demonstrations of loving-kindness. And it is included in the commandment, “And you shall love your fellow man as yourself” (Vayikra 19:18).
The Midrash (Pirkei Drebbi Eliezer 12) states that Hashem Himself rejoiced with Adam and Chava at their wedding in the Garden of Eden. Rabbeinu Yonah adds that performing this mitzvah protects one from yissurin, pain (Sharei Teshuva 4:11). It is also a segulah to have children and grandchildren (Mateh Mosh page 351).
Fulfilling The Mitzvah
1. The poskim debate how one fulfills this mitzvah. The Shulchan Aruch writes that, “There is a mitzvah to gladden the chosson and kallah and to dance before them and to say [about the kallah] kallah naeh v’chasudah.” The Sefer Beer Sheva (50), based upon the above source, writes that the main form of fulfilling this mitzvah is by speaking to the chosson and thereby enhancing his simcha (see also Shu”t Yaskil Avdi vol. 8 20:58 and Sefer Divrei Torah Edition1:8).
2. Likewise, Harav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a rules that in order to fulfill one’s obligation one must go over to the chosson and wish him “mazal tov” (oral ruling cited in the Sefer Yismach Lev 251).
3. Harav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l rules that if one comes to a wedding when the chosson and kallah are still in the “yichud room,” he may partake from the meal and even leave before the couple exits the “yichud room.” He explains that the mere fact that he came and was another person at the wedding gladdens the chosson and kallah. The chosson and kallah want there to be a lot of people at their wedding and merely by attending the wedding he fulfills his obligation. (oral ruling cited in the Sefer Yismach Lev ibid.)
4. The Shulchan Haezer (vol. 2 page 72) writes that there are those who are not gifted in singing and dancing and are unable to gladden the chosson and kallah in the classical ways. They, therefore, give gifts in order to give simcha to the chosson and kallah.
5. The Ezer Mekodesh discusses the obligation to enhance the simcha of the chosson and kallah. He writes that, “If one serves as the mesader kiddushin or recites a blessing under the chuppah, he has surely fulfilled his obligation to gladden the chosson and kallah. The same is true if he leads the birchas hamazon, recites one of the sheva brachos following the wedding meal, or if one speaks to the chosson regarding the importance of being joyful while fulfilling a mitzvah, especially the mitzvah of getting married. In addition, a respected person fulfills this obligation by merely attending the wedding. The mere fact that he took the time to attend the wedding brings joy to the chosson and kallah. Nevertheless, it is preferred for (the respected person) to perform some act for the chosson, either handing him food or drink, dancing before him etc.”
6. Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l issues a similar ruling. He rules that rabbis, dignitaries, and close friends of the chosson fulfill their obligation merely by attending the wedding. Those who do not fall in one of those categories must be joyous and dance until they feel that the chosson is made happy by their actions (Sefer Shalmei Simcha page 310).
7. The Gemara in Kesubos (17a) writes that Rav Shmuel bar Rav Yitzchak used to juggle at weddings in order to enhance the simcha, which is a seemingly degrading act for a Rabbi of his caliber. Yet, if done for the correct reason, with the correct intention, it is not only permitted, but is a mitzvah (see Shu”t Chavos Yair 205).
8. The obligation to enhance the simcha applies whether one partook from the wedding meal or not. However, those who did eat have a greater obligation to gladden the hearts of the chosson and kallah. As the Gemara in Brachos (6b) states, “Anyone who benefits from the chosson’s meal and does not gladden the chosson transgresses five kolos (voices) with which Hashem blessed Yisrael — Kol Sasson V’Kol Simchah Kol Chassan V’Kol Kalah Kol Omrim Hodu Es Hashem Tzevakos.”(see Beis Shmuel 65:1 and Shu”t Igros Moshe Orach Chaim 2:95)
9. Some use the previously cited Gemara to explain the reason why the kallah’s side customarily pays for the food at the wedding. The Gemara states that one commits a transgression if he benefited from the “chosson’s meal” without enhancing the simcha. If, however, the kallah pays for the food it may no longer be considered the “chosson’s meal” and therefore no transgression is possible. (see Shu”t Vayivarech David on Nisuin page 254) One may argue, however, that the wedding feast itself is considered the “chosson’s meal,” whether he paid for it or not. Therefore, one could potentially transgress even today if one eats at the wedding and does not enhance the simcha.
Please email any questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rabbi Zakutinsky recently published a halacha sefer in English (with helpful Hebrew footnotes) addressing the laws and customs of the Jewish wedding, from the engagement period through shana rishona. Written for laymen and rabbis alike, The Gates of Joy elucidates and explains the halachos and customs of Ashkenazim, Sephardim, and Chassidim, including Chabad Chassidim. See a sample of The Gates of Joy here and email email@example.com to order. Say you saw it on OU Torah for a 25% discount!