Where are you going on your honeymoon? Rather than announce an exotic location like Hawaii or Tahiti (or even Niagara Falls), most traditional Jewish couples answer that they are going to Sheva Brachot.

Sheva Brachot (lit. Seven Blessings) is both the name of the seven blessings recited under the Chuppah and the name of the daily celebrations that continue for an entire week after the wedding. At each of the Sheva Brachot feasts, the seven blessings are recited as the conclusion of the Grace After Meals.

Although there is no source for Sheva Brachot in the Torah, the Talmud discusses the seven days of benedictions as a matter of long-standing tradition. It is a custom that  reflects Judaism’s emphasis on the mitzvah of rejoicing with the bride and groom, as well as Judaism’s sensitivity to the transition that the bride and groom must undergo as they start building their home together.

During the week of Sheva Brachot, the bride and groom are treated like royalty. Each night’s Sheva Brachot is hosted by friends or relatives who invite others (making certain that there is a minyan for the recitation of the actual Sheva Brachot), allowing more people to join in the couples’ joy. In fact, it is necessary that there be at least one or two “new faces” (panim chadashot) at each Sheva Brachot feast, based on the Talmudic statement (Ketubot 8a): “Rabbi Ashi came to the house of Rabbi Kahana. The first day he said all the benedictions. From then on; if there were new guests, he said all the benedictions, but if not, [he declared] it to be merely a continuance of the same joy.”

Copyright © 2012 National Jewish Outreach Program. All rights reserved.

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