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Sheva Brachot

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Sheva Brachot (Hebrew: שבע ברכות‎) literally "the seven blessings" also known as birkot Nesuim (Hebrew: ברכות נישואים‎), "the wedding blessings" in Jewish religious law are blessings that are recited for a bride and her groom as part of nissuin. In Jewish marriages there are two stages - betrothal (erusin) and establishing the full marriage (nissuin); historically there was often at least a month between the two events, but in most modern marriages, the two are combined as a single wedding ceremony.

Though the Sheva Brachot are a stylistically harmonious whole, they are actually a mosaic of interwoven Biblical words, phrases and ideas. It is not certain who composed the benedictions; the text is recorded in the Talmud[1] but its origin is probably several centuries earlier.

Occasion

In the seventh century, it was traditional for the blessings to be said at the groom's house, and at the house where the bride had spent the night previous to the marriage[2]; this is still the tradition among Jews in some parts of Asia, but in most regions the wedding blessings are now recited towards the end of the formal marriage ceremony[2], under the Huppah.

These blessing are also recited as part of the week-long festivities celebrating the wedding; in most communities these festive meals occur during the week after the wedding, but among the Mountain Jews they occur during the week before it[3]. Under the huppah the blessing over wine comes first; at the meal table it comes last, after the Grace After Meals. .

In Orthodox and Conservative Judaism, the first six of the blessings are said only if a religiously valid quorum is present[4][5]. On weekdays their recitation also requires the presence of at least one person who was not present for any previous Sheva Brachot of the couple. On Shabbat there is no need for a new guest, since the Shabbat itself is considered a new guest. New guests are referred to as new faces (Hebrew: Panim Chodoshos).

Performance

It is a common custom for these blessings to be pronounced by a Hazzan or Rabbi, if they presided over the marriage[2], or otherwise for pronunciation of the blessings to be divided among honoured guests. Sometimes, the blessings are sung by the wedding guests en-masse[2]

The blessings are usually said over a cup of wine. If multiple people say the blessings, the cup is passed to the person pronouncing each blessing. In many traditions, when a person pronounces the blessing, they and/or the groom drinks from the cup, either after each blessing, or just after all seven[2].

If both the bride and the groom were previously married the blessings are abridged to just three[6].

The wording

ברוך אתה ה' אלהינו מלך העולם, בורא פרי הגפן.

Transliteration: Barukh ata Hashem Elokeinu melekh ha‑olam, bo're p'ri hagafen.
Translation: "Blessed are You, LORD, our God, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine."

ברוך אתה ה' אל*ינו מלך העולם, שהכל ברא לכבודו.

Transliteration: Barukh ata Hashem Elokeinu melech ha‑olam shehakol bara lichvodo.
Translation: "Blessed are You, Hashem, our God, King of the universe, who created everything for his Glory.

The phrase is connected to Talmudic incidents in which the Sages said this phrase after failing in attempts to replace the people who baked the Showbread and the people who compounded the incense in the days of the Temple of Jerusalem. It reflects both grace to accept what one cannot change and recognition that everyone has unique and irreplaceable talents as keys to a harmonious marriage.

ברוך אתה ה' אלהינו מלך העולם, יוצר האדם.

Transliteration: Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha‑olam, yotzer haa’dam.
Translation: "Blessed are You, LORD, our God, King of the universe, who creates man.

ברוך אתה ה' אלהינו מלך העולם, אשר יצר את האדם בצלמו, בצלם דמות תבניתו, והתקין לו ממנו בניין עדי עד. ברוך אתה ה', יוצר האדם.

Transliteration: Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha‑olam, asher yatzar et ha-adam b’tzalmo, b’tzelem d’mut tavnito, v’hitkin lo mimenu binyan adei ad. Baruch atah Adonai, yotzeir ha-adam.
Translation: Blessed are You, LORD, our God, King of the universe, who creates man in your image, fashioning perpetuated life. Blessed are You, LORD, creator of man.

שוש תשיש ותגל עקרה, בקיבוץ בניה לתוכה בשמחה. ברוך אתה ה', משמח ציון בבניה.

Transliteration: Sos tasis v’tageil ha-akara b’kibutz baneha l’tocha b’simcha. Baruch atah Adonai, m’sameach Tzion b’vaneha.
Translation: May Zion rejoice as her children are restored to her in joy. Blessed are You, LORD, who causes Zion to rejoice her children’s return.

שמח תשמח רעים האהובים, כשמחך יצירך בגן עדן מקדם. ברוך אתה ה', משמח חתן וכלה.

Transliteration: Sameiach Tesameach reiim ha-ahuvim k’sameichachca y’tzircha b’gan eden mikedem. Baruch atah Adonai, m’sameiach chatan v’chalah.
Translation: Grant perfect joy to these loving companions, as you did your creations in the Garden of Eden. Blessed are You, LORD, who grants the joy of groom and bride.

ברוך אתה ה' אלהינו מלך העולם, אשר ברא ששון ושמחה, חתן וכלה, גילה רינה, דיצה וחדווה, אהבה ואחווה, ושלום ורעות, מהרה ה' אלקינו ישמע בערי יהודה ובחוצות ירושלים, קול ששון וקול שמחה, קול חתן וקול כלה, קול מצהלות חתנים מחופתם, ונערים ממשתה נגינתם. ברוך אתה ה', משמח חתן עם הכלה.

Transliteration: Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu melech ha-olam, asher bara sason v’simcha chatan v’kallah, gilah rinah ditzah v’chedvah, ahavah v’achavah v’shalom v’reut. M’hera Adonai Eloheinu yishammah b’arei Yhudah uv-chutzot Y’rushalayim kol sason v’kol simcha, kol chatan v’kol kalah, kol meitzhalot chatanim meichupatam u-narim mimishte n’ginata. Baruch atah Adonai, m’sameiach chatan im hakalah.
Translation: Blessed are You, LORD, our God, King of the universe, who created joy and gladness, groom and bride, mirth, song, delight and rejoicing, love and harmony and peace and companionship. LORD our God, may there ever be heard in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem voices of joy and gladness, voices of groom and bride, the jubilant voices of those joined in marriage under the bridal canopy, the voices of young people feasting and singing. Blessed are You, LORD, who causes the groom to rejoice with his bride.

See also

References

  1. Ketubot 7b-8a
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 This article incorporates text from the 1901–1906 Jewish Encyclopedia article "marriage ceremonies", a publication now in the public domain.
  3. Joseph Judah Chorny, Sefer ha-Massa'ot, 1884 (published posthumously)
  4. Abraham Danzig, Wisdom of Man 129:3
  5. Abraham Danzig, Wisdom of Man 129:6
  6. Abraham Danzig, Wisdom of Man 129:4

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