• The Days After the Wedding
• Sheva Brachot's Grace After
Brachot Week: Getting to Know You
• What About the Honeymoon?
The Days After the Wedding
At most Orthodox weddings, not much is made of the newlyweds’ “escape” from the wedding celebration. Post-wedding celebrations are set up to welcome the new couple into communal life. By getting married, a man and woman create a bond between each other that distinguishes their relationship from all others, but between them they possess the life and future of the Jewish community. And this role is honored with wedding feasts for six days after the wedding.
This period is known as Sheva Brachot, and the name recalls the seven marital blessings repeated at each of the festive meals during this time. With the wedding reception counting as the first plus six feasts more, there’s a total of seven Sheva Brachot.
Genesis hints to the week of wedding celebrations. Laban tricked his new son-in-law Jacob into marrying his daughter Leah instead of her sister Rachel. He offered to right the wrong by hosting another wedding for Jacob and Rachel after a week had passed. (Genesis 29:27)
Brachot Grace After Meals
Few rituals are practiced at a Sheva Brachot meal. The Birkat Hamazon, Grace After Meals, is the only notable feature, and the honors, additions to the prayer, and wine service are exactly like the one that followed the wedding reception.
Repeating a blessing, just for the sake of repeating it, is not part of the Jewish tradition. Sheva Brachot, the seven marital blessings, that are part of the wedding week feasts’ Birkat Hamazon may only be repeated if there’s something new and different about the crowd who is listening to them. These new guests are termed panim chadashot, and they qualify for their task if they did not attend the ceremony.
On Shabbat, the holy day itself counts as enough newness and panim chadashim guests are not needed.
Much like the ceremony itself, only if a minyan of ten adult males is present may the Sheva Brachot be said. If a group of only three men can be mustered for Sheva Brachot, then the words “shehasimcha b’meono” may be added at the beginning of the Birkat Hamazon and only the final blessing of Sheva Brachot may be said.
Sheva Brachot Week: Getting to Know You
One of the purposes of the Sheva Brachot week is to give the couple a full week to be with each other, to create the foundation for their intimate, lifelong relationship. Being married is nothing like dating. Not even anything like living together. There’s a sense of being legally linked to each other, a feeling of taking one’s place in the march of history, in the continuity of community and humankind, an obligation to cope with each other’s idiosyncrasies that takes a while to get used to. (A lifetime.) So important is this first wave of being together that spending the week of Sheva Brachot together is a law passed down from Moses. (Kaplan 230, Talmud Yerushalmi Ketubot 1:1)
Newlyweds do not go to work or get haircuts for this first week. Nothing should come between the bride and groom being with each other.
A groom, who does head out to services at the synagogue, graces the minyan with a degree of happiness so tachnun, a prayer for forgiveness and redemption, is not said.
Orthodox Jewish couples spend the first week of their
life together celebrating the evenings with family and friends, with
Sheva Brachot celebrations. This, however, does not
preclude them from going on a honeymoon trip later on, if they so
desire. While some indeed choose to take time off and go off
to exotic places to celebrate their union, other couples are intent
on starting a family immediately. Indeed, in the Yeshivish,
Chassidic, and right wing religious Zionist communities, we
often find the couple a family of three within a year of marriage.
In the more modern orthodox community, choices vary, as some wait
and develop careers prior to embarking on the important journey of
having children and raising a family.