Rav Elyashiv zt”l on Weddings and Rav Yaakov Yishayahu Blau zt”l on Correcting a Kesuvah at a Wedding

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rav elyashiv6[By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for the Five Towns Jewish Times]

In honor of the wedding of the author’s daughter this evening, please find below some Psakim from rav Elyashiv zt”l regarding weddings.  Unless otherwise noted, these p’sakim were heard from Rav Elyashiv zt”l by either Rav Lipa Israelson or one of his brothers.

THE WEDDING CHUPAH
________________________________________
MESADER KIDDUSHIN

1. One should only conduct a wedding under the auspices of a Rav or Talmid Chochom that is knowledgeable in matters of Kiddushin. He is clled the Mesader Kiddushin.

2. Someone who married a woman through a Mesader Kiddushin who is a Reform Rabbi r”l, should ask a shailah if there is validity to his Kiddushin and marriage. It is possible that he must perform a Chuppah anew.

3. There are those who have the custom that the bride’s father comes to greet the groom at his home in order to accompany him to the Chuppah. Similarly, the mother of the groom comes to greet the bride. However, with the agreement of both sides it is permitted to forego this custom.

THE CUSTOM OF SHOSHVINIM

4. The custom is for two people to bring the groom to the Chuppah, one on the right and one on the left. They are called “Shoshvinim.” The wives of the Shoshvinim bring the bride to the Chuppah. The father of the groom accompanies him on the right, and his mechutan accompanies the groom on the left. The mother of the bride is to her right and the mother-in-law is to her left. The Shoshvinim also accompany the groom to the bedekin which is called the “Hinoma.”

WHO ARE THE SHOSHVINIM

5. The common custom is for the parents of the bride and groom to be the Shoshvinim. When this is not possible, some have the custom for the Shoshvinim to be the father and a sister of the groom or bride, or a mother and a brother of the groom or bride. Similarly, the Shoshvinim could be any husband and wife, even if they are not the groom or the bride’s parents.

6. There is no problem if the Shoshvinim are from a second marriage, such as if the groom’s mother is married to a second husband, who is not the groom’s father. She can be on the left of the bride and her husband can be on the right of the groom, and vice versa. There is no problem with either way. Some, however, are careful about this. However, if there is a need to do it in this manner, there is no need to be concerned.

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THE BEDEKIN

7. Before the Chuppah, the groom is escorted by the Shoshvinim ad the two witnesses to the women’s section, to the place where the bride is sitting. The groom covers the head of the bride with a veil or some other designated garment. This is called the Hinoma. According to many authorities, the covering of the bride with a Hinoma is called the Chuppah.

8. The bride and groom should have in mind that the covering of the veil on her head is a Kinyan of marriage just like Chuppah.
It is the custom for the Mesader Kiddushin to tell the father of the bride that he should go to his daughter and tell her that the covering is a form of Kinyan and is not just a mere procedure alone.

9. On account of this, the witnesses as well need to see the groom actually coverin the bride. They should be aware that this is a Kinyan, as mentioned above.

10. There is no need to have the groom acquire the veil.

11. It is perfectly acceptable to make the Chuppah in the evening, there is no need to make it in specifically in the daytime.

12. Chuppah is a Kinyan of marriage. Therefore, the bride and groom must know and have the intention that the Chuppah is creating the marriage.

13. However, in regard to all matters discussed above where the bride and groom must have these things in mind, if they did not have such an intention at the actual time itself, but they did know beforehand that they had to have that in mind, there is nothing to be concerned about and it is perfectly fine.

14. The groom does not have to acquire possession of the place of the Chuppah.

15. It is the custom to make the Chuppah under the sky as a good sign that their descendants should be likened to the stars in the sky. One should be very stringent in the matter and not change the custom.

16. It is the custom to throw upon the groom wheat kernels during the time that he comes to cover the bride. Nowadays the custom is to throw colored paper. There is no concern of following the ways of the gentiles in this.

CUSTOMS OF THE CHUPPAH

17. Some have the custom for the groom to wear a Kittel during the Chuppah. Others have the custom to wear the Kittel in such a manner that it cannot be seen from outside. However our (Rav Elyashiv’s) custom is not to wear a Kittel at all during the Chuppah.

18. One must place ashes on the forehead of the groom in the spot wear he wears Tefillin to commemorate the mourning of Jerusalem. This is placed before one goes to the Chuppah.

19. Some have the custom of placing the ashes when he wrapped in paper so as not to soil the clothing of the groom.

20. One places the ashes on the head and not on the Kippah.

CANDLES

21. The Shoshvinim hold lit candles in their hands when they escort the groom and bride, and during the Chuppah.

22. There is no need for the bride to remove all her jewelry before the Chuppah.

23. There is also not need to undo the knots in one’s clothing. Nor is there a need to empty all the items in one’s pockets.

24. The Kallah and the female Shoshvinos surround the groom seven times, before they bless the blessings of Airusin.

25. After the circling, the bride stands to the right of the groom and they face east. In Jerusalem they face toward the Temple mount. The Mesader Kiddushin faces the bride and groom.

26. After the blessings of Kiddushin, the groom breaks a whole cup made of glass with his right foot [so that it not cause damage it is the custom to wrap the glass in paper].

27. If they forgot to bring a glass, it is permitted to take a glass from the hall on the condition that one pays for it afterward.

28. A left-footed person breaks the glass with his left foot which is considered like his right foot.

THE WEDDING RING

29. The custom is to marry with a ring. There are reasons for this cited in the Tikkunei Zohar. It is possible to marry with either a gold or silver ring.

30. The wedding ring must not have a precious stone. However, there is no problem if designs are etched onto the ring, nor is there a problem of how many karats of gold are in the ring.

31. It is our custom that the ring be round and not rectangular.

32. The Mesader Kiddushin shows the ring to the witnesses at the time of the Chuppah and asks: “Is the ring worth a shaveh prutah?” They answer, “Yes.” It must be said in a language that the bride understands.

33. If the ring was purchased from the funds of the groom’s father, the groom should ask the father to give him permission to take ownership of the ring. The groom should acquire it – that is he should hold it in his hand and intend to acquire it as his own.

34. The Mesader Kiddushin should ask the groom before the Kiddushin if the ring belongs to him.

THE WITNESSES

35. One must designate two kosher witnesses that are kosher for testifying – that is the Mesader Kiddushin or the groom should designate the witnesses. It is emphasized that only they are the witnesses to the exclusion of others.

36. The Mesader Kiddushin tells the groom to say: “I am designating you as witnesses for the bedekin, the kiddushin, the Chupah, and the Yichud room.”

37. The witnesses should be checked and investigated that they are not related to either the groom or the bride, or to each other. Witnesses that are related are pasul – invalid.

38. One may not take the Shadchan as a witness to the Kiddushin. Even though technically he is kosher, because he has a bias to the matter.

39. A mechutan (one’s other child’s in-law) is technically permitted to be a witness. However, ideally it is preferable to take another witness so that it will not appear that they are related.

THE BIRCHAS AIRUSIN

40. Before the groom gives the ring to the bride, the Mesader Kiddushin recites two blessings: Borei Pri HaGafen and v’tzivanu al haArayos.

41. Ideally, there should be ten men present who have reached the age of Bar Mitzvah at the time that the blessing is recited.

42. The groom should not recite this blessing himself, rather the Rabbi who is arranging the wedding recites it.

43. It is forbidden for the bride and groom to interrupt with speech between when the blessing is recited and the giving of the ring.

44. The person reciting the blessing must have in mind to be Motzi the groom and bride their obligations in the blessings. The bride and groom must have in mind to have their obligation fulfilled. They answer Amain to the brachos. The Kallah should also answer Amain to the blessings of Airusin. There is no hefsek interruption in doing so between the Hagafen blessing and her drinking the wine. This is because the blessing is on her account, and that she is a participant in the blessing.

45. The bride and groom and at least nine others who are present must hear the blessings from the person reciting them.

46. Any blessing that must be recited in front of ten people, one must be careful to ensure that at least ten [Torah and Mitzvah observing] people should hear it from the mouth of the person reciting the blessing and not through a microphone. For if they hear the blessing on through a microphone – they have not fulfilled their obligation. It is as if they have recited the blessings of the Choson alone. One must be very careful in this for at times even those who are standing next to the person reciting the blessing do not hear his voice itself but only the microphone.

47. After the blessing the bride and groom drink from the Kos Airusin – just a sip and nothing further. The Mesader Kiddushin does not have to drink from the cup.

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GIVING THE RING

48. Before giving the ring, the veil is lifted from before the bride for a brief moment so that the witnesses will see her face [When they lift the veil so that the bride can drink, one may also lift it a bit higher so that the witnesses will see her.] The Mesader Kiddushin asks the witnesses whether the wedding band has the value of a shaveh prutah. The witnesses respond, “Yes.” Similarly, he should ask the groom if the ring belongs to him.

The face of the bride should be covered when he gives the ring.

Before giving the ring the grooms says to the bride aloud, so that the bride and the witnesses can hear: Harei at mekudeshes li b’tabaas zu kedas Moshe v’yisroel.

The groom places the ring with his right hand upon the right hand of the bride.

He places the ring on the finger next to her thumb.

The witnesses should try to see the groom placing the ring on her finger.

If one of them is left handed, he should place it with his stronger hand (or on her stronger hand if she is left-handed).

The groom gives the Kallah the Kesuvah before witnesses. The custom is that the Kallah gives the Kesuvah to her mother.

THE KINYAN

49. How is the Kinyan made? One of the witnesses takes a handkerchief that belongs to him, and give it to the groom. The groom lifts it up in front of the witnesses for the purpose of Kinyan. He has in mind to obligate himself in all of the obligations set forth in the Ksuvah. The custom is for the groom to return the handkerchief to the witness.

50. The witnesses must sign onto the Kesuvah after the Kabalas Kinyan.

THE TIME OF KABALAS KINYAN

51. There are those who have the custom to make the Kinyan after the writing of the Kesuvah prior to going to the Chupah, and then the witnesses sign on the Kesuvah.
However, it is worthy to do the Kinyan under the Chuppah, after the Kiddushin, and after the reading of the Kesuvah until the word, “V’kanina.” Then the kinyan is performed and the two witnesses sign. After the witnesses sign the reading of the Kesuvah is continued until the end of the names of the witnesses. This is how it is worthy to proceed.

DATE

52. They should be careful to ensure that the date written in the Kesuvah be on the same day as the Chuppah and the Kiddushin.

A CHUPPAH THAT WAS DELAYED

53. If they see that the Chuppah is going to be delayed until after sundown, and the date on the Kesuvah is before sundown, the Kinyan should be made in front of the witnesses before sundown. This is even if it is still before the Chuppah and the Kiddushin. However, this is not so ideal, therefore it is preferable under such circumstances when the Chuppah is delayed until after sundown to write the next day’s date on the Kesuvah.

54. It is proper to indicate in the Kesuvah the last name of the bride and the groom, such as Reuvain Ben Yaakov l’mishpachas [to the family]_____. Likewise, the witnesses should also include their last name. For example, Shimon Ben Yaakov Weiss, aid [witness].

55. One should not write after the bride’s name “Sh’tichye” [she should live – a common term], so that it not appear as another name of the bride.

56. If the groom is a Levi, one should write, “HaLevi” each time one writes his name. When they write his name the first time and the last time where his father’s name is included [or her name if her father is a Levi], one should also write, “HaLevi” there as well.

57. Someone who is called by his nickname, such as if his name is “Yoseph” and they call him “Yossi,” there is no need to write anything in the Kesuva other than “Yoseph.”

58. Foreign [or Yiddish] names such as Fayga or Fruma should be spelled with an Aleph at the end. However, if they normally spell it with a “Hay” at the end, then it should be written with a “Hay.”

59. After the Kesuvah is read, the cup of wine is filled and the blessings are recited again, the Borei Pri HaGafen and six additional blessings – these are known as the Sheva Brachos.

60. The groom does not recite these blessings. Rather, others are honored with reciting them.

61. One may honor a number of people with these blessings and there is no obligation that one person recite them all or a portion of them. However, the first blessing of Hagafen should not be separated from the blessing of “Shehakol Bara lichvodo.”

62. These blessings are not an obligation of the bride and groom. Rather, they are an obligation upon the gathered congregation at the Chuppah. Therefore, there is no need for the bride and groom to have in mind to fulfill their Mitzvah with these blessings.

63. It is the custom of Ashkenazim after the Chuppah to have the bride and groom seclude themselves in the Yichud room (See Ramah EH 55:1).

64. It is proper for the groom to acquire use of the Yichud room from the owners of the wedding hall. That is, he should give a prutah’s worth of coinage to the owner of the hall or its director with whom one transacts with in regard to weddings.

65. After the Chuppah before the bride and groom enter the Yichud room, the witnesses should examine the Yichud room to ensure that it is empty of people, and is closed from all sides, and that there be no windows even ones thata re very high, whee it would be possible to glance into the room.

66. Afterward, the bride and groom should enter the Yichud room, and they lock the door from the inside. The witnesses stand outside for five miutes.

67. This yichud is called “Nissuim” according to many Rishonim. Therefore, the bride and groom should have in mind that they are making a Kinyan Nissuin.

68. It is the custom for the bride and groom to eat in the Yichud room.

SUMMARY OF THE PROTOCOLS AT THE CHUPPAH
• The writing of the Kesuvah with all its details
• Kinyan of the Yichud Room from the administrators of the wedding hall
• Kinyan of the ring to the groom
• Preparing the glass and the wine for the wedding blessing and Sheva Brachos
• Preparing the glass to be broken and the candles for the Shoshvinim
• Checking to ensure that the witnesses are kosher and are not related to the wedding parties
• The groom designates the witnesses and says, “I am designating you as witnesses for the Henoma, the Kiddushin, the Chuppah, and the Yichud room.”
• The placing of the ashes on the head of the groom.
• Lighting the candles for those who accompany the groom.
• Covering the bride with the veil (the Hinuma) by the groom.
• It is on the witnesses to see the covering of the bride with the veil. They should know that this is also part of the wedding process.
• The bride and groom should have in mind that the covering of the veil is for the wedding process.
• The bride encircles the groom seven times.
• The bride and groom have in mind to be yotzeh with the blessings being recited.
• The Mesader Kiddushin recites the HaGafen and the blessings of marriage.
• The groom and bride taste from the cup.
• The cup is lifted in front of the bride in a manner that the witnesses will see her.
• The Mesader Kiddushin asks if the ring belongs to him.
• The Mesader Kiddushin asks the witnesses if it has the value of a prutah.
• He should warn the groom that he should complete the saying of “Harei aht” before he gives her the ring.
• It is upon the witnesses to make sure that they hear the harei aht from the mouth of the groom.
• It is upon the witnesses to see the giving of the ring from the hand of the groom to the hand of the bride.
• The breaking of the glass.
• Reading the Kesuvah.
• Performing the Kinyan and the witnesses signing on the Kesuvah
• The giving of the Kesuvah from the groom to the bride in front of witnesses.
• The bride gives the Kesuvah to her mother.
• Sheva Brachos.
• The groom and bride taste from the cup.
• The witnesses check the Yichud room to ensure that it is empty and locked.
• The bride and groom enter the Yichud room and lock the door from inside.
• The witnesses wait for five minutes outside of the Yichud room.

CORRECTING A KESUVAH

It may be worthwhile to print this next part out and save it for emergencies at a wedding, because it happens more often then we think.  In statistics that this author has kept, it happens on average between 1% and 2% of the time.  However, it can also happen almost ten percent of the time as well depending upon the experience of the Mesader Kiddushin.

A mistake is made in the Kesuvah itself at the wedding.  A frantic call is made to a Posaik:  “We have no other Kesuvah – what should we do?” [The reader may wish to print this in case of emergencies].

At times, the Posaik cannot be reached, in which case calls are made to Posaik after Posaik. Sometimes, when the Posaik can be reached, he may suggest that the Kesuvah be re-written by hand.   All this is often done behind closed doors and can often lead to delays at the wedding.

There is, however,  another possibility, of which many Rabbonim are unaware. It is possible to repair the mistake, as long as the following three conditions are fulfilled:

  • One notes on the bottom of the Kesuvah that the correction was, in fact, made
  • The notation references the line where the correction was made
  • The witnesses attest to the correction.

This is called a Kiyum of the correction.  This concept is found in chapter 44 of the Choshain Mishpat section of Shulchan Aruch subparagraph 5.

HOW TO NOTE THE CORRECTION

The mistakes generally fall into four categories:

  1. A missing letter
  2. A missing name or missing word
  3. A misspelled letter or word
  4. An extra letter or word.

We will go through the correction of each of the above cases.

  1. If a letter was left out of the original, one may add that missing letter in its place– even above the area, and one adds the following notation at the bottom of the Kesuvah:

Letter X on line Y was added. Vehakol sharir vekayam, and then the witnesses sign.

The Hebrew for this is:

אות ___ בשורה שלישית תלויה והכל שריר וקיים.

  1. If an entire word or name was left out, the word is added in place – above the area and one adds on the bottom of the Kesuvah:

Word X on line Y was added. Vehakol sharir vekayam, and then the witnesses sign.

The Hebrew for this is:

תיבת ___ בשורה שלישית תלויה והכל שריר וקיים.

  1. If just one letter was incorrect, it can be crossed out, erased, scratched off, or written over [called ha-avaras kulmus] in its place and one adds on the bottom of the Kesuvah:

Letter X on line Y was erased [or written over] Vehakol sharir vekayam and then the witnesses sign.

The Hebrew for this is:

אות ____ בשורה רביעית מחוקה והכל שריר וקיים

If it was written over, then the Hebrew notation that is to be added is as follows:

אות _____ בשורה ____ בהעברת קולמוס והכל שריר וקיים

If it was a word and not just a letter that was corrected, use the above formulation but replace אות  with תיבת.

  1. If there was an entire extra word that was crossed out, erased, or scratched off, then one adds on the bottom

תיבת _____ בשורה ____ מחוקה והכל שריר וקיים.

 

TWO SITUATIONS IN WHICH CORRECTIONS CAN BE MADE

The Kesuvah can be corrected in either of two situations:

1] when the witnesses did not yet sign the document – in which case the notation is to be made above where the witnesses sign.

2] After the witnesses have already signed – in which case the same witnesses must sign again below the notation of the correction.

In the second case, the correction can even be made several days later.

Please note that one cannot make a correction on top of a correction on a Kesuvah.  You get one chance.  [See Nachalas Shiva 3:23]

The above is based upon the psakim of Rav Yaakov Yishayahu Blau zt”l, author of the Pischei Choshain (and one of this author’s first Poskim – dating back some 40 years ago). See Kovaitz Tevunos Aryeh Vol. II.

The author can be reached at [email protected]

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Maybe the esteemed and learned author can explain about Kesubah – after all, it is a shtar momon, a monetary contract between two individuals, so why are we so makpid on it for every tiny errors, and treat it like a mezuzah or sefer Torah, an irrelevant error that wouldn’t invalidate a monetary shtar is suddenly a big deal in a Kesubah, WHY?!

    I have researched this and asked rabbonim and no one gave a satisfactory answer!

  2. If a mistake was made and a distant relative was used as a witness, say a second cousin or a second cousin once removed, should the chuppah be redone at a later date?