What is the reason that after a bride and groom get married they celebrate Sheva Brachot for 7 days? Is it important to do so? What is the purpose and meaning behind it?
The intense celebrating of a bride and groom on the week following their marriage is revealed within the Torah when Yaakov marries Leah. Despite the fact that Yaakov truly desired Rachel, he could not marry her till after 7 days with Leah had passed(Genesis 29:27). The Bible also records information that Shimshon (Samson) celebrated his wedding for seven days (Judges).
Even though Yaakov accepted this week of celebration as being a custom, Moshe Rabeinu (Moses) later instituted it like a binding decree. Some commentators even comprehend it to be a Torah law.
But you will find two separate issues here:
- The unique time that a brand new husband and wife share collectively
- What are referred to as Sheva Brachot, the festive meals that friends celebrate with the bride and groom during these initial seven days of marriage, which culminate with the recital, following Bircat Hamazon, of the same 7 (Sheva) blessings (Brachot) which were recited under the chupa..
Issue number one is non-negotiable. A brand new husband and wife should even take off from work to be with each other for the entire week following marriage. In truth, even during the entire first year of marriage, neither spouse ought to travel away from home without the other.
But number two, the festive meals with friends, are a tradition. As such, technically they are not obligatory. Since they require at least ten men participating (counting the groom), with one being a Panim Chadashot (new guest who did not attend the wedding ceremony or any previous Sheva Brachot), they are not always so easy to arrange. (Note: A Panim Chadashot is not required on Shabbos.) Please see our How to Host Sheva Brachot post for detailed information.
Becoming Part of The Community
However, academic realities aside, it’s a very special mitzvah to arrange Sheva Brachot celebrations on all seven days. Family and friends consider it a great honor and merit to split up hosting these meals. If some meals are still left open, the bride and groom need to try to host them themselves, if they are blessed with the means.
Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan explains the reason for this special custom: “It is not the Jewish practice for the bride and groom to ‘escape’ on a honeymoon directly following their wedding. Rather, they remain in their home community. They are beginning their married life, not separated from the community, but as an integral part of it.” (Made In Heaven, p. 230.)
Sheva Brachot turn the private simcha of a newly created Jewish family unit into the communal simcha that it truly is. We typically bless new couples: May you build a bayis ne’eman b’Yisrael -a faithful house in Israel. It’s not enough for a couple to build a faithful house -it should be part of Israel, integrally connected to the whole of our nation.
Some people dream about what kind of Sheva Brachot they will have for years before their wedding ceremony. No convincing is required for them. But some people are more private and uncomfortable with all the attention. These people should make an effort to appreciate that G-d desires the unity of the Jewish people, and that coming collectively at times of joy is a very important way to achieve this unity. The Torah was not given to Avraham or Yitzchak or Yaakov, as great as they were. It was given to the nation of Israel at Mount Sinai. G-d desires that Jewish people always act as one nation, and one of the best places to start is by sharing our private simchas with our nation as a whole.
Article from http://www.jewishanswers.org/