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Sheva Berachot Every Day of Sheva Berachot?

Is it necessary, proper, or at least recommended to have a sheva berachot celebration every day of the week of Sheva Berachot?


Rabbi Daniel Mann

Adar I 14 5782
Question: Is it necessary, proper, or at least recommended to have a sheva berachot celebration every day of the week of Sheva Berachot?

Answer: We have to present as full a picture as possible to appreciate the nuances here.

What we call the week of "Sheva Berachot" (=SB) the gemara (Ketubot 4a) calls "the seven days of mishteh (feasting)." This period focuses on a state of simcha and of giving thanks to Hashem (see Ketubot 7a). The most basic part of the simcha is the chatan and kalla spending quality time together (Shulchan Aruch, Even Haezer 64:1). However, the involvement of others in festive meals is also important. For one, a minyan and panim chadashot are required to recite the sheva berachot (=sb) at Birkat Hamazon (Ketubot 7b). More fundamentally, we see from the halacha that a chatan and his entourage are exempt from eating in a sukka throughout SB that having a nice amount of appropriate co-celebrants is a significant consideration, especially at the time of eating (Sukka 25b and Meiri ad loc.).

Poskim broadly assume that there is no full obligation to have sb every day of SB. Many quote Rav Pe’alim (IV, EH 6), and his main source is Ketubot 7b. The baraita states that the sb are recited with a minyan "all seven days," but Rav Yehuda makes this conditional on the presence of panim chadashot. The Rav Pe’alim infers from the gemara that one is not responsible to bring panim chadashot to have a complete sb.

It is possible to argue that the existence of a nicely attended party (which provides the simcha) is a given, and the variable is whether the party needs the possibility of reciting the berachot. However, Acharonim generally understand that although when sb is held, it is a seudat mitzva, there is no halachic requirement to have sb every day of SB (Aruch Hashulchan, OC 640:14; Nitei Gavriel, Nisuin 83;3; Bemareh Habazak VII:96). The Aruch Hashulchan (late 19th century, Eastern Europe) reports that it was standard to have only a few sb. He admits that this was not as Chazal’s envisioned SB but explains that the difficult national climate in a difficult exile has worn us out to the point that it is hard to celebrate too much. The Yam Shel Shlomo (Ketubot 1:12) provides similar comments hundreds of years earlier. He justifies halachically that since these meals are in the kalla’s honor, she may waive her right to them. The Nitei Gavriel (contemporary) says that in our times there is a minhag to try to have sheva berachot every day, except when this proves too difficult. Hanisuim K’hilchatam (15:7) relates to the matter similarly but slightly less forcefully. In Bemareh Habazak, we wrote similarly that there is no obligation but that we encourage doing a nice amount of sb.

We will demonstrate a nuanced difference with the help of Sukkot. The mitzva of sukka applies continually during the 168 hours of Sukkot. The more time in the sukka the better, and this applies more or less equally throughout the chag. Regarding lulav, it must be taken each day but Shabbat, but each day, once one finishes doing what needs to be done, there is thereafter little value in taking it more. Nitei Gavriel understands the present-day minhag/preference in terms of one each day, like lulav. In Bemareh Habazak, we talk of a nice amount of celebrating, without stressing if it covers each day. The minhag seems to be to try to align the sb by halachic day, but this is just a preference. Logically, having the most meaningful experience is more important, and one should not get carried away trying to conform to the each-day minhag.

There is an additional element besides our general belief in following minhag. While older sources discuss the chatan’s obligation to arrange his SB, now family and friends do it. Once an act to honor others becomes standard, one who receives sub-standard is likely to be insulted or disappointed. Therefore, while on the one hand, many couples appear to benefit from extra rest and privacy, it is still generally an expected chesed for their loved ones to make the standard amount of sb.

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