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Questions and Answers on Sheva Berachot

Questions and Answers on Sheva Berachot


"שהכל ברא לכבודו... יוצר האדם... משמח ציון בבניה"
“Who has created all things for His glory... Who formed man... Who gladdens Zion with her children.”

QUESTION: What connection do the first four berachot have with a wedding?

ANSWER: Just as Hashem created the world at large, a young couple who join in marriage are undertaking the building of a world. First and foremost they must always remember that Hashem “created everything for His glory.” The entire purpose of creation was His desire to have a dwelling place in this world, which is accomplished by the Jews’ study of Torah and observance of Mitzvot. The world the young couple is erecting will be everlasting if it is built according to His desire and blueprints — Torah and Yirat Shamayim. Otherwise, King David said, “If Hashem will not build the home, its builders labor on it vainly.” (Psalms 127:1)

The berachah “Yotzer ha’adam — “Who formed man” — calls to the couples attention that man is titled “Adam” because of “Adamah Le’elyon” — man must strive to emulate Him — and be attached to Him (Isaiah 14:14, Shelah p. 3a, Sotah 14a).

Being concerned only with oneself, however, is insufficient. One must improve also the world around him. Thus, he is told that “Vehitkin lo mimenu binyan adei ad” — “prepared for him from his own self an everlasting edifice.” Man cannot claim incompetence to influence others since he was formed “Betzalmo” — “in His image” — and the Midrash (Bereishit 98:3) says, “Just as Hashem builds worlds, the Jews do so too.”

Through such a lifestyle, there will be (the fourth berachah) a salvation for Jewry at large — the ingathering of the Jews and the rebuilding of Jerusalem. The young couple too will merit the fulfillment of the final two berachot — enjoy success throughout their marriage, and joy and happiness all the days of their lives.

(רשימות כ"ק אדמו"ר חוברת ב, ועי' כתובות ח:א, וברש"י)

"שמח תשמח רעים האהובים כשמחך יצירך בגן עדן מקדם"
“Grant abundant joy to these loving friends, as You bestowed gladness upon Your created being in the Garden of Eden of old.”

QUESTION: What happiness did Hashem cause Adam to experience?

ANSWER: According to an opinion in the Gemara (Berachot 61a), Adam and Chava were created together as one, back to back. Hashem afterwards separated them, and they became two individuals.

Strife and suffering occur when people “turn their backs” on each other and refuse to communicate. People experience happiness when they “see” each other face to face.

The blessing to the chatan and kallah is that, throughout the years of their married life, they should always communicate “face to face” and never “turn their backs” on each other.

"ישמע בערי יהודה ובחוצות ירושלים...קול חתן וקול כלה"
“Let there speedily be heard in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem...the voice of a groom and the voice of a bride.”

QUESTION: From the pasuk “Kol kevudah bat melech penimah” — “The very honor of a princess is within” (Psalms 45:14) the sages derived that the dignified behavior for a bat melech — daughter of a king — i.e. Jewish woman, is to be within the confines of her abode and not go outside and mingle with the people (Yevamot 87b). Why, then, does the prophecy say that “kol kallah” — “the voice of a bride” — will be heard in the streets of Jerusalem, which is contrary to the laws of modesty?

ANSWER: The Gemara (Makkot 24b) quotes the prophecy of Zechariah, “Old men and old women will yet sit in the streets of Jerusalem” (8:4). Tosafot explains that this applies to the period of Olam Haba — the World to Come. Similarly, this prophecy of Jeremiah refers to life in the World to Come.

Olam Haba follows techiyat hameitim — the Resurrection — and it is a period when “gam oyevav yashlim imo” — “even his foes will make peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7). At that time the Jews’ arch enemy, the yeitzer hara — evil inclination — will make peace with the Jew and no longer endeavor to interfere with his service of Hashem. Thus, the provision that women remain inside will be unnecessary, and the prophecy that “the voice of a bride will be heard in the streets of Jerusalem” will be fulfilled.

(לקוטי שיחות חכ"א ע' 379)

"בורא פרי הגפן"
“Who created the fruit of the vine.”

QUESTION: Regarding the appropriate marriage our sages (Pesachim 49a) comment, “Invei hagefen be’invei hagefen davar na’ah umitkabeil” — “The mingling of the grapes of the vine with the grapes of the vine is beautiful and acceptable.”

Why the analogy to grapes and not another fruit?

ANSWER: Before eating a fruit that grows on a tree, one must recite the berachah “Borei peri ha’eitz.” On the juice of the fruit one recites the berachah “Shehakol niheyah bidevaro,” which is lower in the ranking of berachot. The only exception to this rule is in the case of grapes. While the fruit itself has the berachah “Borei peri ha’eitz,” the juice is kovei’a berachah le’atzmo — acquires a berachah for itself — “Borei peri hagafen” — which is considered higher in the hierarchy of berachot than “Borei peri ha’eitz.”

The originators of a family are the parents, who are analogous to the vine, and the offspring are compared to the grapes. Our sages are telling us that a marriage in which there is a “mingling of grapes” and which produces wine, i.e. the children accomplish even more than their parents— is “davar na’ah umitkabeil” — something beautiful and acceptable.

Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky has been a pulpit rabbi for over thirty years, and is author of more than ten highly acclaimed books on the Parshiot and holidays. His Parshah series, Vedibarta Bam, can be purchased here.
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