In Jewish communities, it is not uncommon for people to collect money on behalf of a needy couple that lacks funds to celebrate their nuptials and/or set up a modest home together. Moving from person to person in the synagogue or on the street, the collector need not say anything more than hachnasat kallah, and sympathetic strangers willingly contribute toward the worthy cause of establishing a new Jewish home with dignity and joy.

Hachnasat kallah (הַכְנָסַת כַּלָּה, also pronounced hachnosas kallah) literally means “bringing in the bride,” and it refers to the mitzvah of providing bride and groom with all that they need to marry.

The Talmud1 sees this mitzvah, which is done discreetly and without fanfare, as alluded to in Scripture’s call to, “walk humbly with your G‑d.”2

Hachnasat kallah is listed among those deeds for which we are rewarded during our lifetime, with our primary reward being given to us in the World to Come.3

The Code of Jewish law rules that if stewards of communal funds have unallocated funds, they should be earnmarked toward “marrying off orphan maidens, for there is no tzedakah greater than this.”4

In modern times, the term hachnasat kallah refers to providing financial support. However, in the times of the Talmud it was (also) used literally, referring to the mitzvah of joining the bridal entourage, lending prestige and joy to the procession that made its way from the bride’s home to the wedding celebration. This (along with joining a funeral procession) was seen as being so important that Rabbi Yehuda bar Ilai would disrupt his studies to participate in an under-attended procession.5

Were you invited to a wedding and aren’t sure whether or not to attend? Consider that your presence (and your presents) will be a manifestation of the mitzvah of hachnasat kallah, so fill out your reply card with joy and anticipation.

Mazal tov!