MARRIAGE


MARRIAGE
This article is arranged according to the following outline: - the concept - in the bible - in sectarian teaching - in rabbinic literature - in medieval and modern times - marriage ceremony - in the bible - in the talmud - post-talmudic period - the marriage benedictions - ḤUPPAH - the ring - various customs - legal aspects - modes of effecting kiddushin - kesef - shetar - BI'AH - The Nissu'in - legal consequences - Manner of Celebrating Kiddushin and Nissu'in - legal capacity of the parties - Kiddushin Conducted by Deception, Fraud, or in jest - doubtful kiddushin - in the state of israel - contemporary innovations -THE CONCEPT In Jewish teaching, marriage is the ideal human state and is considered a basic social institution established by God at the time of creation. In the Bible The purposes of marriage in the Bible are companionship and procreation: "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help-mate for him … Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh" (Gen. 2:18, 24); and "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth …" (Gen. 1:28). The biblical conception of marriage is essentially monogamous (Gen. 2:24), and although in biblical times polygamy was common among the upper classes (Judg. 8:30; II Sam. 5:13; I Kings 11:1–8), the many references to marriage in the wisdom literature seem to take it for granted that a man had only one wife (Ps. 128; Prov. 12:4; 18:22; 19:14; 31:10–31; Ecclus. 25:1; 26). The prophets using marriage as a metaphor for God's attachment to Israel (Isa. 61:10; 62:5; Ezek. 16; Hos. 2:21–22; also Song of Songs, if interpreted metaphorically) clearly have monogamous marriage in mind, since God did not enter into such a special relationship with any other people. Marriages were usually arranged by parents (Gen. 21:21; 24; 28:2), but the bride's consent was asked on occasion (Gen. 24:5, 58), and romantic unions were not uncommon (Gen. 29:20; Judg. 14; I Sam. 18:20; II Sam. 11:2–4; I Kings 2:17; II Chron. 11:21). It was usual to marry within the clan (Gen. 24:4; 28:2; 29:19), and in a leviratic situation (levirate marriage ) this was obligatory (Gen. 38:9; Deut. 25:5; Ruth 3:12–13). Certain marriages, involving close relatives (Lev. 18; 20; Deut.   23:1–8; 27:20–23), priests, widows, and divorced women (Lev. 21:7; Deut. 24:4), are forbidden. While marriages outside the clan occurred, they were strongly opposed both as a measure against idolatry (Ex. 34:15–16; Deut. 7:3–4; 28:4), and to preserve Jewish distinctiveness (Ezra 9:12; 10:17; Neh. 10:31; 13:23–28). Fruitfulness in marriage is a great blessing and childlessness a tragedy and disgrace (Gen. 8:17; 9:1, 7; 13:16; 17–18; 22:17; 30:1–23; Ps. 127:3–5; 128). Marriage is the means to true companionship: "Whoso findeth a wife findeth a great good" (Prov. 18:22; cf. 12:4; 14:1; 19:14; 31:10–31); "live joyfully with thy wife whom thou lovest" (Eccles. 9:9). But where marital harmony no longer prevails (particularly in the case of the wife's adultery ), the marriage can be dissolved by divorce (Deut. 24:1–4), though Malachi (2:14–16) warns that God deplores the resort to divorce. In Sectarian Teaching The Essenes in general rejected worldly pleasures, including marriage, and practiced continence (Jos., Wars, 2:120). The Covenanters of Qumran did not appear to have been strictly celibate as once was thought. It is clear that some members married and had children (Zadokite Document, 20:7–8; 13:20; Damascus Document, 4:7). The Order of the Community ruled that a young man should not have intercourse before 20 years of age (1:4–11). Archaeologists have found the remains of a few women and children at Qumran but it is not clear to what extent this indicates marriage. The New Testament has a negative attitude to the sexual impulse and regards celibacy as a higher ideal than marriage (Matt. 19:10; I Cor. 7). Marriage is a concession to human weakness (I Cor. 7), but once entered into, it is a sacrament dissolved only by death (Matt. 19:16; Mark 10:9); though some hold that Jesus allowed divorce in cases of adultery (Matt. 5:31–32; 19:9; Mark 10:12; Luke 16:18). In Rabbinic Literature In contrast, rabbinic teaching sees celibacy as unnatural. It is not he who marries who sins; the sinner is the unmarried man who "spends all his days in sinful thoughts" (Kid. 29b). Marriage is not only for companionship and procreation; it also fulfills one as a person: "He who has no wife is not a proper man" (Yev. 63a); he lives "without joy, blessing, goodness … Torah, protection … and peace" (Yev. 62b); he may not officiate as high priest on the Day of Atonement (Yoma 1:1), and probably not as sheli'aḥ ẓibbur on the High Holy Days (Isserles to Sh. Ar., OH 581:1, based on Yoma 1:1 and Yev. 37b). Sexual desire is not evil or shameful. When regulated and controlled in marriage, it serves beneficial ends: "Were it not for the yeẓer ha-ra ("evil inclination" here sexual urge), no man would build a house, marry a wife, or beget children" (Gen. R. 9:7). He who, by denying his legitimate instincts, fails to produce children "is as if he shed blood, diminished the Image of God, and made the Shekhinah depart from Israel" (Sh. Ar., EH 1:1, based on Yev. 63b–64a), and he will have to account for his actions in the world to come (Shab. 31a). Marriage is so important that a man may sell a Torah scroll in order to marry (Meg. 27a) and a woman will tolerate an unhappy marriage rather than remain alone (Yev. 113a; Kid 7a). One should never approach marriage lightly. To make a successful match is as hard as the parting of the Red Sea (Sot. 2a, et al.), and it requires the infinite wisdom of God himself (Gen. R. 68:3). Hence, although in one view a person's marriage is predestined (Sot. 2a), the individual must choose wisely: "Hasten to buy land; deliberate before taking a wife" (Yev. 63a). Marriage should not be for money (Kid. 70a), but a man should seek a wife who is mild-tempered, tactful, modest, and industrious (Sot. 3b), and who meets other criteria: respectability of family (Ta'an. 4:8; BB 109b), similarity of social background (Kid. 49a) and of age (Yev. 44a; Sanh. 76a–b), beauty (Ber. 57b; Yoma 74b), and a scholarly father (Pes. 49b). A man should not betroth a woman until he has seen her (Kid. 41a). Early marriage is preferred: "18 for marriage" (Avot 5:21). If one is not married by 20, God curses him (Kid. 29b–30a). Only a person intensively occupied in Torah study, e.g., ben azzai , may postpone marriage (Yev. 63b; cf. Ket. 63a; Sot. 4b); though in Babylon it was suggested that one should first marry and then study (Kid. 29b). A practical order of procedure, derived from Deuteronomy (20:5–7), states; "First build a house, then plant a vineyard, and after that marry" (Sot. 44a). As far as a girl is concerned, if her father does not find her a husband while she is young (from the age of 12), she may become unchaste and he will have transgressed the commandment in Leviticus 19:29: "Profane not thy daughter to make her a harlot" (Sanh. 76a). Polygamy, while theoretically still possible, was discouraged, and was almost unknown among talmudic rabbis. Marriage was not a sacrament in the Christian sense, since its dissolution through divorce, though regrettable, was possible. It is kiddushin , a sacred relationship (analogous to hekdesh ), whereby the wife is consecrated to her husband and forbidden to all others during the duration of the marriage (Kid. 2a–b). At the same time, it is not a mere legal contract devoid of spiritual content. Thus, while the husband acquires rights over his wife's ishut ("wifehood"), though not over her person, and he undertakes duties toward her, e.g., supplying her with food and clothing, and adhering to the conjugal rights (Ex. 21:10), both parties must seek to raise their marriage to the highest level by means of mutual consideration and respect. The husband must deny himself in order to provide for his wife and children (Ḥul. 84b). He must not cause his wife to weep (BM 59a). If he loves her as himself and honors her more than himself, he will merit the blessing in Job (5:24) "And thou shalt know that thy tent is in peace" (Yev. 62b). If husband and wife are worthy, God will dwell with them; otherwise, there will be a consuming fire between them (Sot. 17a; PdRE 12). The rabbis, like the prophets, use marriage to symbolize other perfect relationships: e.g., God and Israel, Israel and the Torah, and Israel and the Sabbath. In Medieval and Modern Times The positive attitude of the rabbis to marriage was maintained in post-talmudic literature and Jewish practice. Asceticism and   celibacy continued to be rare. Polygamy was finally prohibited among Ashkenazi Jews by a ban attributed to R. gershom b. judah (see bigamy ; monogamy ). Early marriage became general practice. Divorce, though relatively easy to obtain, was not common, partly due to the social pressures of the closed Jewish society since the family was firmly established as the basis of Jewish life (see I. Abrahams , Jewish Life in the Middle Ages (19322), 99ff.). With the cultural changes which followed the emancipation, the Jewish marriage rate tended to be lower than the non-Jewish one, divorce and mixed marriage increased, early marriage was uncommon, and the urban Jewish birth rate fell (see A. Ruppin , The Jews in the Modern World (1934), 277f., 316ff.; J. Freid (ed.), Jews and Divorce (1968). These trends intensified after World War II as environmental attitudes were increasingly being reflected among Western Jewry. Marital stability has been relatively less and traditional moral codes have been questioned. To counteract these tendencies, Jewish communities are promoting marriage education and guidance, largely through rabbis and social welfare agencies. (Raymond Apple) -MARRIAGE CEREMONY In the Bible There is hardly any data about the marriage ceremony in the Bible. The act of marriage is called simply "taking" ("when a man taketh a wife," Deut. 24:1; "and there went a man of the house of Levi, and he took a daughter of Levi," Ex. 2:1). However, from the story of Jacob and Leah it is obvious that some sort of celebration took place: "And Laban gathered all the people of the place and made a feast" (Gen. 29:22) and later, when Jacob complained that he had been cheated and demanded Rachel, the daughter for whom he had worked, he was told: "Wait until the bridal week of this one is over and we will give you that one too" (Gen. 29:27). No details are recorded as to the nature of the feast or the bridal week. The same is true in the case of Samson (Judg. 14:12) except that there it is said that the groom posed a riddle to his companions and gave them the seven days of the feast to solve it. It appears that processions for both the bride and groom were a central part of the celebrations and were accompanied by music (Ps. 78:63; I Macc. 9:39) and there is ample reference to special marriage attire and adornment. From Deuteronomy 22:15 it seems that the exhibition of evidence of the bride's virginity (the blood-stained sheet) was part of the ceremony. It is reasonable to presume that even in the earliest times the act of marriage must have been accompanied by some ceremony; the biblical authors, however, give no direct description of it and usually refer to it only in passing or as a figure in their imagery. In the Talmud In the talmudic period – and presumably for a considerable time before then – the marriage ceremony was in two parts. The first, called kiddushin or erusin (betrothal; but see below, Legal Aspects, for the difference between this concept and what is commonly called betrothal), was effected by the bridegroom handing over in the presence of two witnesses any object of value (more than a perutah) to the bride and reciting the marriage formula, "Behold, you are consecrated unto me with this ring according to the law of Moses and Israel." On this occasion two benedictions were recited, one over wine and the other for the actual act. The second reads: "Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has hallowed us by Thy commandments, and hast given us command concerning forbidden marriages; who hast disallowed unto us those that are betrothed (to us – variant in some rites), but hast sanctioned unto us such as are wedded to us by the rite of the nuptial canopy and the sacred covenant of wedlock. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who hallowest Thy people Israel by the rite of the nuptial canopy and the sacred covenant of wedlock" (Hertz, Prayer, 1011). This benediction is already recorded in the Talmud (Ket. 7b), and since cohabitation of the bride and groom was forbidden until the second ceremony, the nissu'in (see below, and Legal Aspects), which in the case of a virgin usually took place a year later, it appears that the benediction was in fact a warning to the betrothed couple not to cohabit until that ceremony. The second part of the ceremony took place at a later date and was called nissu'in (marriage proper). It was also called ḥuppah (see below) after either the groom's house to which the bride was led or the canopy, symbolic of that house, under which the ceremony took place. Originally nissu'in was effected by the bride entering the groom's house and cohabiting with him. On the occasion of the nissu'in a series of benedictions was recited (see below). After this stage the couple were completely married and liable to all the responsibilities and privileges of that state (see also below, Legal Aspects). There is ample evidence in the Talmud that the wedding ceremony was accompanied by great rejoicing and some times even hilarity. The question of how one should dance before the bride was discussed and even occasioned a difference of opinion between the schools of Hillel and Shammai (Ket. 16b–17a). Although Rashi interprets the phrase "keiẓad merakdim" used there as meaning "what does one say" in order to fit the continuation of the text, the phrase must be understood in its literal sense "how does one dance." Judah b. Ilai is recorded as having danced before the bride with a myrtle branch and Samuel b. Rav Isaac was rebuked by his colleagues for having performed what seems to have been a juggling dance. The Talmud, however, justified his behavior entirely. Rav Aḥa went so far as to dance with the bride on his shoulders, something which astonished the other rabbis (Ket. 17a). Indeed the custom of shattering a glass at the marriage ceremony (see below) stems, according to the medieval commentators, from Mar berei de-Ravina and Rav Ashi who deliberately smashed expensive glassware at their sons' weddings in order to reduce the unseemly hilarity of the rabbis who were present (Ber. 31a). Until the destruction of the Temple both the bride and groom wore distinctive headdresses, sometimes of gold (Sot. 9:14, 49a; Git. 7a; for details see Crowns, Decorative Headdresses, and Wreaths ).   For the marriage of a virgin (as opposed to a widow or divorcee) special rites took place. She went out in a hinnumah (variously interpreted as a bridal veil or a special bridal litter used in the marriage procession); dried corn was distributed to the children (Ket. 2:1); games were played before the bride; a goblet of tithe wine was passed before her; according to some, a sealed (opened for a widow or divorcee) barrel of wine was used instead (Ket. 16b). The performance of all these ceremonies was sufficient evidence that the bride had been a virgin and was thus entitled to the larger ketubbah (see virgin ). The bridal procession took precedence over a funeral procession and King Agrippa was praised by the rabbis for giving right of way to a bridal procession although his, being the royal procession, had precedence. At Tur Malka the disturbances which destroyed the town were started, according to talmudic legend, when Roman legionnaires took the hen and rooster which led a marriage procession as a fertility symbol (Git. 57a). Participation at the marriage ceremony and celebrations was considered a mitzvah and he who entertained the bride and groom was compared to one who had sacrificed a thanksgiving offering (Ber. 6b). The groom was required to devote at least three days to the preparation of the wedding feast and even if a parent of the bride or groom died on the set day of the marriage its consummation took place and the funeral was held afterward (Ket. 3a). The wedding of a virgin originally took place on a Wednesday (Ket. 1:1). This is explained in the Babylonian Talmud by the fact that the court sat on Thursdays and thus if the groom claimed that the bride had not been a virgin he could immediately complain to the court. However, it does appear that superstition was involved and that Wednesday was considered an auspicious day (cf. TJ, Ket. 1:1). A widow was married on Thursday so that her husband should devote at least three days to her without going back to his work. However, even in talmudic times the requirement that weddings be held on specific days fell into disuse for which a variety of reasons is given. It seems that in talmudic times the exhibition of the stained bridal sheet was discouraged. Originally the shushbinim ("friends," i.e., groomsmen) were appointed to ensure that no trickery was employed by either side (Tosef., Ket. 1:4 and Ket. 12a). For a virgin seven festive days were celebrated which, for the bride and groom, had something of the status of a religious holiday. The marriage benedictions were recited at meals (for details see below) and neither bride nor groom was allowed to mourn. Post-Talmudic Period The most important development in the marriage ceremony was the joining of the two parts, erusin and nissu'in, into one ceremony performed at one time. This took place during the Middle Ages and was presumably because of the uncertain and perilous conditions in which the Jews lived. It was also exceedingly inconvenient to have an interval between the two ceremonies since on the one hand the parties were prohibited from cohabiting while on the other all the stringencies of the married status applied to them. Thus from the beginning of the 12th century it became customary to perform both ceremonies together, a practice which has been universally followed except for a few Oriental communities (see freimann , bibl., 29ff.). Other developments are the addition of various prayers to the ceremony, the inclusion of a sermon by the officiating rabbi and, in some present-day communities, the invocation of a blessing on the bridal couple. The ceremony may be performed anywhere. In many communities – particularly Sephardi and Oriental – it is performed inside the synagogue although there are halakhic opinions against it. In some places it is performed in the hall where the subsequent festivities are held and among some circles (ultra-Orthodox Jews and Ḥasidim and generally among Ashkenazim in Israel) it is invariably performed in the open. This latter custom is perhaps due to the fact that ideally the ceremony takes place after nightfall and the stars above are associated with God's assurance to Abraham that He would "make your descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven" (Gen. 22:17; see Isserles to Sh. Ar., EH 61:1). In the western hemisphere Sunday is a popular day for weddings because of the convenience to the guests, while Tuesday is favored in Orthodox circles because of the repetition of the sentence "And God saw that this was good" in the biblical account of the creation on that day (Gen. 1:10, 12). However, any day of the week is valid except Sabbath; also festivals, the three weeks between the 17th of Tammuz and the Ninth of Av, and the sefirah period between Passover and Shavuot (there are exceptional days in the last-mentioned period, notably Lag ba-Omer: see omer ). According to the general Sephardi custom marriages are not performed on Lag ba-Omer but are performed from the following day onward. Usually a person in mourning for a parent does not marry until the year of mourning is out although in certain circumstances it is permitted to marry earlier (Sh. Ar., YD 392). There are no specific requirements for the way in which the bride and bridegroom dress. It is customary for the bride to wear white and for her to have a headdress and a veil. The bridegroom in some Orthodox circles wears a kitel either as an evocation of death or since his wedding day is compared to the Day of Atonement when the kitel is worn. In some communities the bridegroom wears a tallit, as does, in some, the officiating rabbi. In many Oriental communities brides wear elaborate costumes richly embroidered and ornamented which were loaned from bride to bride; the Yemenite bridal costume is an outstanding example (see also dress ). The ceremony is presently performed as follows. Before being led to the ḥuppah (wedding canopy; see below) the bridegroom, in the presence of witnesses, undertakes, by an act of kinyan (see acquisition ) the obligations of the ketubbah. This is done by the groom taking a piece of cloth, handkerchief, or some other object from the officiating rabbi, lifting it, and returning it. The witnesses then sign the document and in many communities (including the State of Israel) the groom also signs. The groom is then escorted to the place where the bride is waiting (many modern synagogues have a   special bride's room) and lets down her veil over her face, at which time the rabbi or cantor pronounces the blessing invoked on Rebekah "O sister\! May you grow into thousands of myriads" (Gen. 24:60). This ceremony is known in Yiddish as "bedeken di kale" (lit. "covering the bride") and is not practiced by Sephardi Jews. The groom is then led to the ḥuppah by his and the bride's father (or two other male relatives or friends if he or the bride has been orphaned) and stands facing Ereẓ Israel, in Israel itself facing Jerusalem, and in Jerusalem facing the Temple site. The bride is then led to the ḥuppah by her mother and the groom's mother, usually to the accompaniment of a blessing of welcome chanted by the rabbi or cantor, the text of which is: "He Who is supremely mighty; He Who is supremely praised; He Who is supremely great; May He bless this bridegroom and bride." It is customary among Ashkenazim for the bride to be led in seven circuits around the groom which is presumably to be associated with the magic circle to ward off evil spirits. The bride then stands at the right hand of the groom, and, where customary, the rabbi delivers the sermon; the ceremony proper then begins. The rabbi recites the blessing over a goblet of wine and the marriage blessing (see text above) after which the father of the bridegroom gives the goblet to the bridegroom and he drinks, and then the mother of the bride gives the bride the goblet, from which she drinks. In many communities the officiant gives the goblet to the bride and groom. The groom then places the ring (see below) on the forefinger of the bride's right hand and recites the marriage formula (see above). In some communities the glass is crushed by the groom at this stage. The ketubbah is then read out loud by the rabbi or some other man whom the bridal couple wish to honor. In many communities it is read in the original Aramaic and followed by a précis in the vernacular; in Israel a Hebrew précis is often substituted. The purpose of the reading of the ketubbah is to divide between the two parts of the ceremony. The celebrant (rabbi, cantor, or some other person) then recites the seven marriage benedictions (see below) over a goblet of wine. In many places it is customary to have different men recite the different benedictions. The father of the bride then gives the groom to drink from the goblet and the mother of the groom does likewise to the bride. In most rites the groom crushes a glass under his right foot and where customary the rabbi invokes the priestly blessing . The couple are then escorted to a room where they remain alone for some time, usually breaking their fast together (see below, Legal Aspects, for reasons). The breaking of the glass by the groom is explained by some authorities as a token of the seriousness desirable in even the most happy moments (see above, In the Talmud); however, the act has become understood over the ages as a sign of mourning for the destruction of Jerusalem. In some communities the bridegroom threw the glass against a special wall instead of treading on it. It has been suggested that originally the glass was broken to frighten away evil spirits. In some rites the memorial prayer, El Maleh Raḥamim, is recited for departed parents if either member of the couple is an orphan. THE MARRIAGE BENEDICTIONS These benedictions, commonly known as the Sheva Berakhot (Heb. "seven benedictions" – when recited with the benediction over wine) are recorded in the Talmud (Ket. 7b–8a) where they are called Birkat Ḥatanim ("the bridegroom's benediction"). When recited under the ḥuppah the benediction for wine precedes the other six which are: 1) "Blessed art Thou … who hast created all things to Thy glory. 2) … Creator of man. 3) … who hast made man in Thine image, after Thy likeness, and hast prepared unto him, out of his very self, a perpetual fabric. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, Creator of man. 4) May she who was barren (Zion) be exceedingly glad and exult, when her children are gathered within her in joy. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who makest Zion joyful through her children. 5) O make these loved companions greatly to rejoice, even as of old Thou didst gladden Thy creature in the garden of Eden. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who makest bridegroom and bride to rejoice. 6) Blessed art Thou … who hast created joy and gladness, bridegroom and bride, mirth and exultation, pleasure and delight, love, brotherhood, peace, and fellowship. Soon O Lord, our God, may there be heard in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of joy and gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the jubilant voice of bridegrooms from their canopies, and of youths from their feasts of song. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who makest the bridegroom to rejoice with the bride" (Hertz, Prayer, 1013). This series of benedictions raises some problems from the point of view of their formulation since normally only the first should begin with the formula "Blessed art thou …." Rashi (to Ket. 7b–8a) gives the following explanation. The first benediction is not for the bridal couple but in honor of the assembled congregation; the second is a benediction in honor of the creation of Adam and the next three are for the couple being married, while the last is an invocation for all Israel including the couple. The series begins with the blessing over wine because of its festive nature. The blessings are recited at the marriage ceremony and at every meal during the next seven days at which there is "a new face," i.e., somebody who was not present at any previous recitation for that couple. This rule applies to all the seven days except the Sabbath, which is itself considered to be a "new face." At the meals the series is recited immediately following the Grace after Meals, which itself is introduced by a special invocation. The series then ends with the benediction over the wine and both the bride and groom and the person who led the Grace drink from the wine. A minyan (ten males) is required for the recitation of the marriage benedictions both at the ḥuppah and after the grace; if no minyan is present the last of the marriage benedictions may be recited as long as there are three males (Sh. Ar., EH 62 and see also: grace after meals ). In talmudic times special formulas were added to the grace after meals for some   considerable period before the actual wedding and after it. The present-day custom is limited to the recital of the benedictions for the seven-day period immediately following the wedding, except in the case of a marriage between a widower and widow when it is recited on the first day only. ḤUPPAH (HEB. חֻפָּה). The term originally referred to the bridal canopy or the bridal chamber (Gen. R. 4:4) and sometimes to the wedding itself (Avot 5:21). In ancient times the ḥuppah was the tent or room of the groom into which, at the end of the betrothal period, the bride was brought in festive procession for the marital union (cf. Ps. 19:6; Yad, Ishut 10:1). In talmudic times it was customary for the father of the bridegroom to erect the ḥuppah (Gen. R. 28:6; Ber. 25b; Sanh. 108a). In bethar (near Jerusalem) the custom was to make the staves or beams of the ḥuppah from a cedar and pine tree which were planted for this purpose at the birth of male and female children respectively (Git. 57a). The ḥuppah was sometimes made of precious scarlet and gold cloth (Sot. 49b; TJ, Sot. 9:16, 246). The Talmud tells that God made ten ḥuppot for Adam and Eve and that He will build such ḥuppot for the pious in the world to come (BB 75a). In the early Middle Ages, the ḥuppah was not usually used at weddings; this is obvious from the phrasing of Isserles (Sh. Ar.) who regarded it as a novelty (Isserles to Sh. Ar., YD, 391; ibid., EH 55:1). In France the groom covered the bride's head with his tallit as a symbol of his sheltering her. This custom was based upon the words of Ruth to Boaz: "Spread … thy cloak over thy handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman" (Ruth 3:9). This ceremony was also called ḥuppah and was the custom among the Jews of North Africa. Since in talmudic times the ḥuppah was the place of marital union and therefore required privacy, medieval responsa dealt with the question whether the act of entering the ḥuppah was sufficient to constitute marriage or whether it was only to be regarded as a symbol which would still require the couple to retire in privacy (cf. Tos. to Suk. 25b and see below, Legal Aspects). In the late Middle Ages the ḥuppah, consisting of a cloth spread on four staves, was placed inside the synagogue (Isserles to Sh. Ar., YD 391:3), but later it was moved to the courtyard of the synagogue, either because it was deemed improper to have the ḥuppah, as a symbol of the marriage tent, erected inside the synagogue or because of the need to accommodate the wedding party (and see above). In modern Israel, for the weddings of soldiers on active duty, the ḥuppah often consists of a tallit which is supported by four rifles held by friends of the bride and groom. THE RING Although the act of marriage can be effected in different ways (see below, Legal Aspects) it has become the universal Jewish practice to use a ring, except in a very few Oriental communities where a coin is used. The ring, which must belong to the bridegroom, should be free of any precious stones but can be of any material (usually it is of gold or some other precious metal) as long as its value is more than a perutah, the smallest denomination of currency in Talmud times. In the ceremony the groom gives the ring to the bride as an act of acquisition and the bride, by accepting it, becomes his wife. Generally the groom places the ring on the forefinger of the bride's right hand; there are, however, many varied customs as to which finger the ring is placed on. In some Reform and Conservative congregations in the U.S. the "double ring" ceremony is practiced in which the bride also gives a ring to the groom and recites a marriage formula. Since, according to the halakhah, it is the groom who is acquiring the bride, this innovation raises serious halakhic doubts which, according to some authorities, even affect the validity of the marriage. (Raphael Posner) VARIOUS CUSTOMS The marriage ceremony marks a crucial period in man's life cycle and it is only natural that it became surrounded by a multitude of different customs which generally had one of two purposes: to protect the couple from malignant spirits and to invoke God's blessing of fertility on the marriage. Many of the customs were adopted by the Jews from their non-Jewish environment and thus some are of almost a universal character. Many customs, however, are merely manifestations of the goodwill and joy felt at the happy occasion. Among Ashkenazi Jews the most widely practiced customs, besides breaking the glass which has been interpreted as a defense against evil spirits (but see above) are that the women leading the bride to the ḥuppah carry lighted candles as do other members of the marriage party and that the bride makes seven circuits around the groom under the canopy. It is customary for the bride and groom to refrain from seeing each other for a time preceding the wedding. The actual duration of this period varies in the different communities from about one week to one day, i.e., that of the wedding itself until the ceremony. The bridegroom has precedence over all others to be called to the Torah reading on the Sabbath before the wedding (a ceremony known as oyfrufn in Yiddish) and in some Ashkenazi communities the bride, if she is an orphan, visits the cemetery some time before the wedding. The bride and groom usually fast on the day of the wedding itself until after the ceremony unless it takes place on a day when fasting is forbidden, such as a new moon. A peculiar custom, common in Eastern Europe as well as in Oriental communities, was for the bride and groom to attempt to tread on the other's foot at the end of the ceremony, the one who succeeded thus being assured of dominance in their life together. In many places among both Ashkenazim and Sephardim it was and is customary to throw rice, wheat, nuts, and candies at the groom on various occasions during the marriage cycle: at the wedding itself, and particularly when the groom was called to the Torah reading on the Sabbath prior to the wedding. The bride's entry into her future home was marked by many ceremonies. In Libya and Djerba the groom would drop an earthenware pitcher of water from the roof and the bride would enter the house by walking through the water and broken pottery. In Jerusalem the Sephardim used to break a specially baked cake, called ruskah, above the heads of the bride and groom, while in Baghdad a loaf was cut above the head of the groom.   In Afghanistan a fowl was slaughtered to mark the occasion. In Djerba the bride broke open eggs on the doorposts of the house and in Daghestan and Gruzia (Russian Georgia) the doorposts were smeared with butter and honey. In Salonika the groom would stand at the head of the stairs when the bride first entered the house and scatter sweetmeats, rice, and coins at her feet as she came in. In Georgia the groom would set a white fowl free from the roof of the house on that occasion and drop rice, wheat, and raisins on the bride's head. In Libya the groom broke the glass at the wedding ceremony when it was almost full of wine which would spill on the floor as a sign of plenty; whereas the groom in Georgia would put the wedding ring into the glass of wine after he had drunk from it, give it the bride to drink, extract the ring, and formally present it to her with the declaration. In Kurdistan the bride would hold a male infant as the assembled guests called out "May your first be a boy too." In Morocco fish was always served at the wedding meal and the subsequent festivities as a fertility symbol and in Salonika the groom would buy live fish and put them in water in a brass bowl; on the eighth day after the wedding the bride jumped three times over this bowl to the blessings of the guests "May you be as fertile as the fish." In Persia the groom would plant three sticks in the courtyard of his house and uproot them on the sixth day after the wedding and throw them behind him to ward off evil spirits. In most Oriental communities the ḥinnah is celebrated the night before the wedding. In this ceremony the women of both families and female friends (men are entirely excluded) gather at the home of the bride and there her hands are painted with red henna. This ceremony is to ward off the evil eye and is sometimes accompanied by a ceremonial compounding of the dye by the bride's mother and feeding the bride seven times during the evening. Among the mountain Jews of Libya nearly all weddings take place two days before Sukkot. On the second day of the festival all the grooms participate in foot races symbolic of "And he is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run his course" (Ps. 19:6). Afterward celebrations are held at their homes. In all communities the groom is honored on the Sabbath after his wedding at the synagogue, where he is given precedence to be called to the reading of the Torah. In some communities special piyyutim are recited on this occasion and in many the groom is seated in a place of honor with a ceremonial canopy spread above him (Kurdistan). In Libya a second Torah scroll is taken out and an additional section (Gen. 24:1–4) is read. This is also the custom in Tunisia where the section is translated into Arabic. In Tunisia the groom is invited to the bride's home on the Sabbath preceding the wedding and has to find a roast chicken which has been especially hidden. On the fifth day after the wedding a competition between bride and groom is arranged in which they each have to dissect a large cooked fish for serving. The groom is always at a disadvantage in that he is given a blunt knife. In some communities (Afghanistan and, in a modified form, Yemen) it was sometimes customary to arrange a private wedding ceremony the night before the announced day. On the morrow the announced ceremony would also be held. This was in order to outwit evil spirits or malicious persons who had cast spells on the couple. At the ceremony it was also common for a relative of the couple to hold a pair of scissors and cut paper or cloth for its duration. In Kurdistan the officiating rabbi would publicly warn the assembled guests not to cast spells. The custom of examining the bride's linen after the first night for spots of blood as a proof of her virginity was very widespread and is still practiced in some Oriental communities. The mother of the bride would preserve the sheet or underclothing to uphold the family honor if later required. (Reuben Kashani and Raphael Posner) -LEGAL ASPECTS In Jewish law, marriage consists of two separate acts, called kiddushin and nissu'in respectively. The kiddushin (also called erusin) is an act performed by a man and a woman which leads to a change in their personal status, i.e., from bachelorhood to a personal status which remains unchanged until the death of either party or their divorce from one another. However, the kiddushin alone does not bring about all the legal consequences of this change of status, as all those will follow only from a further act between the parties, namely the nissu'in. The common usage of the term erusin, which refers merely to shiddukhin, i.e., engagement (see betrothal ), is therefore not identical with its legal meaning. Modes of Effecting Kiddushin There are three ways of effecting a kiddushin, namely by way of kesef ("money"), shetar ("deed"), or bi'ah ("cohabitation"). KESEF The bridegroom, in the presence of two competent witnesses, transfers (see acquisition ) to his bride money or its equivalent – today normally an unadorned ring – to the value of at least one perutah, for the purposes of kiddushin. It is customary for the bridegroom – after the officiating rabbi has recited the Birkat ha-Erusin – to place the ring on the bride's right-hand forefinger while addressing her with the words: Harei at mekuddeshet li be-tabba'at zo ke-dat Moshe ve-Yisrael ("Behold, you are consecrated unto me by this ring, according to the law of Moses and of Israel"; Kid. 2a; 5b; Rema Sh. Ar., EH 27:1); i.e., by transferring the ring to the bride the groom signifies his intent to reserve her exclusively to himself and by accepting it she signifies her consent. Hence it is necessary that the ring belong to the bridegroom and not to the bride, since a person cannot alienate something that is not his own, nor can a person acquire something that already belongs to him (Kid. 5b; 6b; 47a; Sh. Ar., EH 27:1, 7; 31:2). SHETAR In the presence of two competent witnesses, the bridegroom hands over to the bride a deed in which is written, besides the names of the parties and the other particulars required for the purposes of a kiddushin by shetar, the words, "Behold you are consecrated unto me with this deed according to the law of Moses and of Israel" and the bride accepts the   deed with the intention of thereby becoming consecrated to the bridegroom (Kid. 9a; Sh. Ar., EH 32:1, 4). Delivery of the deed is therefore not merely evidence that the kiddushin has taken place before, but is the means whereby the tie is created, and in this respect it differs from the ketubbah deed which the bridegroom has to give to the bride after completion of the kiddushin (see also civil marriage ). BI'AH If a man in the presence of two competent witnesses, addresses to a woman the words, "Behold you are consecrated to me with this cohabitation according to the law of Moses and of Israel," and in their presence he takes her into a private place for the purpose of kiddushin, she will, upon their cohabitation, be reserved to him (Kid. 9b; Sh. Ar., EH 33:1). Although valid this mode of kiddushin was regarded by the scholars as tantamount to prostitution, and they decreed that any person employing it was punishable by flogging (Kid. 12b; Yad, Ishut 3:21; Sh. Ar., EH 26:4; 33:1). On the other hand, this mode of kiddushin has served as the basis for the halakhic presumption that a man does not cohabit with a woman for the sake of prostitution (Git. 81b; Rema EH 33:1), and for the various rules founded on that presumption see husband and wife ; divorce . In practice, in present times, only kiddushei kesef is observed since the other two modes of kiddushin have long become obsolete. The version "Behold you are reserved … according to the law of Moses and of Israel" (which does not appear in the TB and is only found in the Tosefta (Ket. 4:9) and in the TJ, where the version is "according to the law of Moses and of the Jews" (Yehudai; Ket. 4:8), means that the bridegroom reserves the bride unto himself "according to the law of Moses" – i.e., the law of the Torah – "and of Israel" – i.e., in accordance with the rules of the halakhic scholars as applied in Israel, so that the kiddushin shall be valid or void in accordance with the regulations laid down by the scholars (Yev. 90b; Ket. 3a; Git. 33a; Rashi and Tos. ad loc.; see also Rashbam and Tos. to BB 48b). The version thus formulated provided the basis for the halakhah which empowered and authorized the scholars, in certain circumstances, to invalidate a kiddushin retroactively in such a manner that even if it was not defective in principle it was deemed to be void ab initio. The question whether this power to make regulations for the annulment of the kiddushin is conferred also on the rabbis of the times after the redaction of the Talmud has remained in dispute. One opinion is that a kiddushin which is valid according to talmudic law, even though it is celebrated contrary to a takkanah which expressly prohibits the celebration of a kiddushin in any manner except as therein provided (e.g., in the presence of a rabbi and a quorum of ten), will not be declared void ab initio and the woman will not be free to marry another man unless she first obtains a divorce (out of precautionary stringency; Resp. Ribash no. 399; see also Resp. Rashba, vol. 1, nos. 1185 and 1206 where no absolute decision is arrived at; Resp. Ḥatam Sofer, EH 1:108; ET, 2 (1949), 137–40; Elon (1988), 2:686–712; Elon (1994), 2:846–79; see also agunah , takkanot ). The Nissu'in The act of nissu'in requires that the bride, after completion of the kiddushin, be brought to the bridegroom under the ḥuppah before two competent witnesses, for purposes of the marriage proper, i.e., the nissu'in "according to the law of Moses and of Israel." There are different opinions concerning the import of the term ḥuppah. One view is that the bride must be brought to the home of the groom for the nissu'in (Ran to Ket. 2a; Beit Shemu'el 55, no. 4), an interpretation forming the basis of the present custom of bringing the bride to a place symbolizing the domain (reshut) of the bridegroom, i.e., to the place where a canopy is spread across four poles and where the bridegroom is already waiting. According to another opinion ḥuppah embraces a private meeting (יִחוּד) between bridegroom and bride, at a place set aside for the purpose, as an indication of their marriage proper (Ket. 54b; 56a; Rosh 5:6; Yad, Ishut 10:1, 2; Isserles EH 55:1; 61:1; Sh. Ar., EH 55:2). In order to dispel doubt, custom requires that, in addition to ḥuppah, the couple also have the said private meeting. Legal Consequences As already indicated, the legal consequences of the act of kiddushin differ from those of the act of nissu'in. The kiddushin creates a legal-personal tie between the parties which can only be dissolved upon divorce or the death of either party, and the arusah ("affianced bride") is regarded as a married woman (eshet ish) for all purposes under the de-oraita law, which thus renders invalid a kiddushin between herself and any other man (Kid. 5; Yad, Ishut 1:3; Sh. Ar., EH 26:3). The arus too is prohibited, as is a married man proper, from taking an additional wife, and although in his case the prohibition stems not from the de-oraita law but from the herem de-Rabbenu Gershom (see bigamy ), the prohibition for the arus is as stringent as it is for a married man proper (Rema EH 1:10; Oẓar ha-Posekim EH 1, n. 65; other scholars differ, see Taz EH 1, n. 15). Kiddushin alone, however, does not serve to call into being the mutual rights and duties existing between husband and wife (see husband and wife ), and, in particular, cohabitation between them is prohibited (Rashi, Ket. 7b; Sh. Ar., EH 55:1, 6). This prohibition is also contained in the Consecration Blessing in the words, "and has prohibited us the arus but has permitted us those who are married to us by ḥuppah and kiddushin" (see Ket. 7b and Sh. Ar., EH 34:1). The arus is also not liable for the maintenance of his bride except after the lapse of 12 months from the time of the kiddushin, or any lesser period of time agreed upon between them, and then only if he has failed to marry her notwithstanding her demand and readiness to be married to him (Ket. 2; 57a; Sh. Ar., EH 55:4; 56:1, 3 and commentaries). The arusah also has no ketubbah, unless the bridegroom executed such a deed in her favor at the kiddushin stage (Ket. 54b; Sh. Ar., EH 55:6). The absolute change in their personal status, with all the rights and duties it entails, is created by the nissu'in. Manner of Celebrating Kiddushin and Nissu'in In order to avoid irregularities which might possibly bring   about complications, custom decrees that the kiddushin be solemnized by a rabbi who supervises that everything is done according to law. It is also the generally accepted custom that there shall be present at least a minyan (ten men). Custom further decrees that the bridegroom shall always recite the above-mentioned formulation in the precise words, "Behold, you are consecrated … etc."; although post-factum the kiddushin will not be invalidated if any like version with a similar content is used, any change in the recognized version should be avoided at the outset (Yad, Ishut 10:6; Resp. Rosh 37:1; Sh. Ar., EH 55:3 and Rema EH 61). The presence of two competent witnesses at both stages of the marriage ceremony is mandatory; as they do not merely serve as eyewitnesses but their presence is an essential part of the legal act, their absence will invalidate both the kiddushin and the nissu'in. Hence if a man and a woman acknowledge that there were not two witnesses present at their marriage, their acknowledgement (hoda'ah) that they are married will not serve as a basis for determining that this is the case (Kid. 65a; Yad, Ishut 4:6; Sh. Ar., EH 42:2). Conversely, if two competent witnesses testify to the celebration of a marriage between a particular couple, they will be regarded as duly married notwithstanding their own denial of the fact (Warhaftig, 132, 139). For a full description see above. Theoretically, kiddushin being an act of legal effect, it may also be performed between the parties through an agent; i.e., the bridegroom may appoint an agent to enter, on his behalf, into a kiddushin with a particular woman and the woman may do likewise for the purpose of accepting kiddushin. However, it is a mitzvah for each personally to take and be taken in marriage (Yad, Ishut 3:19; Sh. Ar., EH 35; 36). Similarly, in principle, the couple may celebrate a conditional kiddushin in such a manner that, provided all the rules applicable to conditions are observed (Sh. Ar., EH 38:2) and the condition itself fulfilled, the kiddushin will be valid from the start, or from the time of fulfillment of the condition, in accordance with the stipulation of the parties, but will be invalid if the condition is not fulfilled (Sh. Ar., EH 38). However, on account of the possible complications arising therefrom, and the stringency of the laws concerning a married woman, no conditions are permitted in kiddushin or nissu'in. Legal Capacity of the Parties Since marriage is an act of legal effect, it can be celebrated only by parties who have legal capacity. Hence if one of the parties to a marriage is a minor, acting independently, it will be invalid. In Jewish law a male is a minor (katan) until the age of 13 years; from the age of 13 years and one day he is a major (called gadol) and only then may he contract a valid marriage (Kid. 50b; Yad, Ishut 2:10; 4:7; Sh. Ar., EH 43:1). A female is a minor (ketannah) until the age of 12 years; from the age of 12 years and one day until the age of 12½ years she is called a na'arah (Yad, Ishut 2:1). Although as a na'arah she is considered a major (gedolah; Yad, Ishut 2:6), her marriage (when she is acting independently) will only be valid if she is orphaned of her father, but if he is alive, since a na'arah remains under her father's tutelage (reshut), her marriage, when she is acting independently will be valid only after the tutelage ceases to exist, namely when she becomes a bogeret, i.e., when she reaches the age of 12½ years and one day (Kid. 43b; 44b; Yad, Ishut 2:2; 3:11–13; 4:8; and Gerushin, 11:6; Sh. Ar., EH 37:11; 155:20, 21; see also legal Capacity). As regards the validity of a marriage entered into by a minor represented by his parents, see child marriage . For the same reason, i.e., lack of legal capacity, a marriage to which an idiot (shoteh) is party will be invalid when it is clear that such a party is a complete idiot (Yev. 69b; 96b; Sh. Ar., EH 44:2; 67:7). However, if such person be of sound, although weak, mind his marriage will be valid (Tur and Beit Yosef, EH 44; the statement attributed to Isserles, in Sh. Ar., EH 44:2 is apparently a printing error; see Beit Shemu'el, ad loc., n. 4; Ḥelkat Meḥokek, ad loc. n. 2). In case of doubt as to the soundness of a person's mind, as when he has lucid intervals, his kiddushin will, out of apprehension, be regarded as a doubtful kiddushin and the parties will not be permitted to marry anyone else except after their divorce (out of precautionary restriction גט מחומרא (Sh. Ar., loc. cit.). A deaf-mute (ḥeresh, Yad, Ishut 2:26) is precluded, by Pentateuchal law, from entering into a kiddushin since his/her legal capacity is the same as that of the minor or the idiot. However, the scholars regulated that a kiddushin entered into by a deaf-mute shall be valid (Yev. 112b; Yad, Ishut 4:9; Sh. Ar., EH 44:1), but they did so without creating any obligations between parties to such a marriage. Hence if one of the parties is a deaf-mute, none of the legal obligations flowing from marriage will devolve on them – neither the obligation of ketubbah (i.e., in places where no ketubbah deed is written), nor of a ketubbah condition, nor of maintenance (Sh. Ar., EH 67:8–10), except possibly where a deaf-mute expressly undertakes these pecuniary obligations in the ketubbah deed (PDR 8:65, 69–71, 74–77). The ḥerem de-Rabbenu Gershom does not apply to a husband who was a deaf-mute at the time of his marriage, nor does a deaf-mute's express undertaking not to take an additional wife or not to divorce his wife against her free will have any binding force, since he is incapable of undertaking obligations – at any rate as regards matters of a non-pecuniary nature (PDR loc. cit.). (Ben-Zion (Benno) Schereschewsky) Kiddushin Conducted by Deception, Fraud, or in Jest The tannaitic literature (Kid. 3:1; 58b) states that if a person sent an agent to betroth a wife for him, and the agent went and betrothed her for himself, the betrothal is valid, except if "he (the agent) treated him (the principal) deceptively." The talmudic commentators explain that this statement emphasizes that although the act was fraudulent, it does not invalidate the kiddushin, which are valid by Pentateuchal law, nor do the rabbis invalidate the kiddushin because of the agent's fraudulent act against the principal prior to the kiddushin (Tos. ad loc; Nov, Rashba Kid. 58b). Fraudulent kiddushin include frauds against the woman, e.g., where a man betroths   a woman in jest or coercively, or by giving her a ring in the presence of two witnesses, but against her will or understanding. Although the woman's consent is absent in these cases of kiddushin, the rabbis require the woman to accept a get (bill of divorce), in view of the doubt that perhaps these kiddushin are valid (see agunah ). This requirement of a get led to problems of iggun when the husband refused to give a get (see agunah ). As a result, to prevent fraudulent kiddushin, many Jewish communities enacted regulations regarding marriage ceremonies and how they should be conducted, such as conducting the kiddushin in the presence of ten persons, in the presence of a rabbi, etc. Such regulations appear as early as the geonic period (S. Assaf, Teshuvot ha-Geonim, para. 113, p. 101), and later in Ashkenaz (the Franco-German center) and in North Africa. The regulations enacted in the geonic period annulled all kiddushin conducted contrary to these rules. At later periods, sanctions were imposed on the offenders, but halakhic authorities were hesitant and questioned their authority to annul such kiddushin. A responsum by the sages of 12th-century Ashkenaz (Resp. Raban, EH, vol. 3 no. 47:2) reflects the differences of opinion between the sages of Worms and Speyer, and those of Mainz. The former argued that since the one who fraudulently betrothed the woman acted "improperly," the act of kiddushin should be invalidated and annulled. In contrast, the sages of Mainz reasoned that after the completion of the Talmud, rabbis are no longer empowered to annul kiddushin, and thus such a step could not be taken (see agunah ; takkanot ). When a similar case was brought before the Rosh (Resp. Rosh 35:2), he ruled that the sages are not empowered to annul the kiddushin, but since the kiddushin were fraudulent, similar to other instances in which the geonim ruled that the husband may be forced to give his wife a bill of divorce, the husband may be compelled to divorce his wife, and this would not be a coerced get (get me'useh; see divorce ). In another responsum, he rules that when kiddushin is performed contrary to a regulation enacted by the community stating explicitly that kiddushin performed in opposition to the regulation would be annulled, these fraudulent kiddushin may be annulled (ibid. 35:1). Rashba took a similar view, and stated that in places where such a regulation had not been enacted, the rabbinical court should impose fines and even corporal punishment in order to deter fraudulent kiddushin (Resp. Rashba, vol. 1, no. 551). Doubtful Kiddushin The legal status of certain kiddushin is sometimes doubtful. Tannaitic literature provides two categories of cases of factual doubt which create doubtful kiddushin. In the first case the doubt relates to whether the kiddushin was conducted properly, for example whether or not the object given for kiddushin was in fact worth a perutah (Tos. Yev. 5:3). In the second case the doubt is created by a dispute in the public perception of the act that was performed, for example, the suspicion that the object used for the betrothal, while not worth a perutah in that particular location, may be worth a perutah somewhere else. The result would be that while the woman would not be regarded as betrothed in one location, she would be regarded as betrothed in another location, and hence the kiddushin is considered doubtful (Kid. 12a). Doubtful kiddushin may also ensue from a legal doubt, when it is not known, or there was no decision, whether a certain act of kiddushin was valid or not; such a case is treated stringently, and the woman is doubtfully betrothed. For example in a situation where a man gave the money for kiddushin, but the woman (instead of the man) recited the sentence to be said after the giving of the money (see above; Kid. 5b). In some instances in the post-talmudic literature, a majority of posekim rule that even when the kiddushin do not take effect, for instance, kiddushin in the presence of only one witness (Rema EH 42:2), stringency is appropriate (Yad, Ishut 4:6; Semag, Hilkhot Kiddushin), and we should consider such cases as doubtful kiddushin. Accordingly, it was ruled that due to the severity of relations with a married woman: "in these generations they imposed all the stringencies of the posekim in divorce and marriage" (Resp. Radbaz, vol. 4, no. 129; Resp. Maharashdam, EH 13), except for in cases where the kiddushin was additionally flawed, or would cause the woman to become an agunah, in which case stringency is not applied (Resp. Maharashdam, ibid.). Determining kiddushin as doubtful results in stringencies in two directions. On the one hand, in order to be married to another man, the woman requires a get and on the other hand, if another man betroths her, he too is considered doubtfully betrothed to her. In practice, under certain circumstances, if the parties wish to marry, they are required to conduct a second kiddushin; and if they do not desire to continue a shared life, the husband might be compelled to give her a get. Incidental to divorce, the woman might be prohibited to marry a Cohen (see Marriage, Prohibited ), which has led many authorities to criticize the proclivity to stringency in determining doubtful kiddushin and ordering divorce as a precautionary measure (get le-ḥumra – גט לחומרא; Resp. Maharshal, no. 21; Resp. Radbaz, no. 382). A national rabbinical conference held in Jerusalem in 1950 instituted the "ḥerem de-Yerushalayim," which, inter alia, enacted that "no Jewish man and woman may engage in kiddushin and erusin (= kiddushin) other than by a proper wedding ceremony, with a quorum of ten men, which is then recorded in the offices of the rabbinate in every location. This prohibition carries with it a severe ḥerem (= ban) by which any man who betrothed a woman, other than in a proper wedding ceremony, must divorce his betrothed with a bill of divorce in accordance with Jewish law." The ḥerem de-Yerushalayim is recognized by Israeli law as part of the binding Jewish law for marriage (HC 130/66, Segev v. Rabbinical Court of Appeals, 21 (2) PD, p. 505, 525, per President Agranat). Today, most marriages are conducted under the supervision of a rabbi authorized by the Chief Rabbinate, and therefore the question of doubtful kiddushin can generally arise only in one of the following instances:   1\. Civil marriage. For civil marriage and its validity as doubtful kiddushin, see civil marriage . 2\. Cohabitation without marriage (yedu'im ba-ẓibbur). See concubine . 3\. Private marriage. The ḥerem de-Yerushalayim does not state that privately conducted kiddushin would be declared null and void. The Israeli Supreme Court has often addressed questions concerning the status and validity of private marriages. These marriages may be performed for any of a variety of reasons; for example, when because of various prohibitions (see Marriage, Prohibited ), the parties cannot be married by the Israeli rabbinate, and the parties circumvent this by conducting a full but private marriage ceremony. Another example is when parties who are able to be married by the rabbinate prefer not to have a rabbinically approved ceremony. These cases are a focus of friction between the rabbinical courts (that have exclusive jurisdiction in marital law) and the civil courts. The rabbinical court refuses to recognize such marriages, on the grounds of not "aiding transgressors." In contrast, the civil court system recognizes marriages of parties forbidden by Jewish law to be valid. In this context the civil court distinguishes between the "religious" component, which prohibits the conducting of the marriage, and the legal component, which despite the religious prohibition, gives legal validity to such unions. This distinction is derived from the rabbinical court's perception that such marriages are, minimally, "doubtful marriages," which, as a precautionary measure, require divorce. However, the recognition afforded by the civil court only affects the legal civil status of the couple (such as the registration of the marriage), and not the enforcement of the parties' mutual obligations from such a marriage. In the event of a private marriage, when the parties were eligible for a rabbinical marriage, but chose otherwise, the Supreme Court refused to validate such marriages and declare that the parties could register as married. The Supreme Court was guided by its perception of public policy stating that: "This judicial policy of invalidating private marriages is founded on the principle of maintaining the public good, proper administration, and basic social order, which are especially significant in determining the validity of the status of the marriage and the consequences ensuing from this status, for both the relationship between the parties and their relationship with the public as a whole" (CA 32/81, Zonen v. Shtal, 37(2) PD, p. 766; Justice Menachem Elon). (Menachem Elon (2nd ed.) In the State of Israel Matters of marriage in the State of Israel are governed by Jewish law, in accordance with the provisions of sections 1 and 2 of the Rabbinical Courts Jurisdiction (Marriage and Divorce) Law, 5713/1953. As regards the customs relating to the celebration of kiddushin and nissu'in, takkanot were issued at an Israeli rabbinical conference in 1950, imposing a strict ban on anyone solemnizing kiddushin and nissu'in contrary to the accepted customs. By virtue of the Marriage Age Law 1950 (as amended in 1960) a woman may not be married before the age of 17 years. This law further renders it a punishable offense for any person to marry a woman under the age of 17 years (it is no offense for the bride), or to solemnize or assist in any capacity in the celebration of the marriage of such a woman, or for a father or guardian to give her away in marriage, unless prior permission of the competent district court has been obtained – the latter being empowered to give this on the grounds specified in the law (see child marriage ). No minimal age is specified for the bridegroom. This offense, although punishable, has no effect on the personal status of the parties; i.e., if the marriage is valid according to Jewish law, the fact that the offense has been committed will in no way affect the validity of the marriage, whether the question arises in relation to a matter of Jewish or of civil law, in the rabbinical or in the civil courts. However, in the event of a marriage with a woman below the said minimum age, the law provides that application may be made to the rabbinical court – by the persons and in the circumstances specified in the law – in order to oblige the husband to grant his wife a divorce. It must be emphasized that this provision does not create grounds for action for divorce under Jewish law, so that in fact it is a dead letter, for in matters of divorce the rabbinical courts apply Jewish law only. (Ben-Zion (Benno) Schereschewsky) The Marriage Age Law was amended in 1988, and the Law currently has the same age requirement for both males and females. -CONTEMPORARY INNOVATIONS Several opposing tendencies have brought significant changes to Jewish wedding practices during the last quarter of the 20th century, particularly in North America. One trend is characterized by the recovery and reinstatement of certain traditional nuptial rituals, often as part of a rejection of a growing conformity of Jewish marriage customs to Protestant models during the 1950s–70s. Thus, in the early 21st century, it is not uncommon for both bride and groom to immerse in the mikveh during the week prior to the wedding. The badeken ceremony is frequently performed following a tisch for the groom, and there may be a tena'im ceremony where the mothers of the bride and groom break a plate. At the ceremony itself Wagner's Lohengrin Wedding March has generally been replaced by Jewish music and brides, and often grooms, now walk to the ḥuppah with both parents, rather than the bride on the arm of her father. The use of some form of ketubbah has been reinstated in the Reform movement, alongside several of the traditional sheva berakhot (wedding benedictions). Brides and grooms from all movements often prepare wedding booklets explaining aspects of the traditional Jewish wedding ceremony so that their Jewish and non-Jewish guests will be able to follow the proceedings. On the other hand, there has also been an effort to make the traditionally unilateral wedding ceremony as egalitarian   as possible. With the exception of the Ashkenazi custom of circling the groom seven or three times, sipping wine twice, and putting out a hand for the ring to be slipped on her finger, the Jewish bride is passive during a traditional Jewish wedding ritual and in the preparatory ceremonies that precede it, as when the ketubbah is signed and witnessed. The most common egalitarian innovations include replacing the traditional language of the ketubbah with reciprocal wording concerning the obligations of bride and groom to each other (this innovative ketubbah may be in Aramaic, Hebrew, or English, or a combination of two or more of these languages); both bride and groom participate in kinyan and sign the ketubbah prior to the ḥuppah; the groom circles the bride after the bride circles the groom; a double ring ceremony with both bride and groom speaking and placing a ring on the other's finger (usually the groom says the traditional formula and the bride says some variation of it or recites a verse from the Song of Songs); and the inclusion of women among those eligible to officiate, read the ketubbah, and say one of the sheva berakhot. Since 1990, more radical departures from halakhah have also become frequent. Within the Reform, Reconstructionist, and Humanist movements, these may include the use of specially written ketubbot at interfaith weddings and at gay and lesbian commitment ceremonies and marriages, where the couple often stands under a ḥuppah and breaks a glass. Some of the interfaith ceremonies are syncretistic, which has elicited protests from the liberal and progressive denominations, as well as the more traditional movements. (Rela M. Geffen (2nd ed.) -BIBLIOGRAPHY: GENERAL: de Vaux, Anc. Isr, 24–38; P. Elman (ed.), Jewish Marriage (1967); L.M. Epstein, Sex Laws and Customs in Judaism (1948); D.R. Mace, Hebrew Marriage; A Sociological Study (1953); R. Patai, Sex and Family in the Bible and the Middle East (1959); P. and H. Goodman, The Jewish Marriage Anthology (1965; incl. bibl.). THE CEREMONY: I. Abrahams, Jewish Life in the Middle Ages (1932), 179–228; I. Jakobovits, Order of the Jewish Marriage Service (1959); J.L. Lauterbach, in: HUCA, 2 (1925), 351–80; E. Brauer, Yehudei Kurdistan; Meḥkar Antologi (1948); Yahadut Luv (1960), 393–5; J. Yehoshu'a, Yaldut bi-Yrushalayim ha-Yeshanah; Ha-Bayit ve-ha-Reḥov bi-Yrushalayim ha-Yeshanah (1966), 59–78; M. Many, Ḥevron ve-Gibboreiha (1963), 88–100; M. Attias, in: Saloniki, Ir va-Em be-Yisrael (1967), 185–7; J. Saphir, Even Sappir, 1 (1866), 81af.; 2 (1874), 74a–86a; D.S. Sassoon, Massa Bavel (1955), 200–3; H. Mizrahi, Yehudei Paras (1959); Z. Kasdai, Mi-Malkhut Ararat (1912), 59–62; Ben-Jacob (ed.), Yalkut Minhagim mi-Minhagei Shivtei Yisrael (1967); Y. Ratzaby, Bo'i Teiman (1967), 328–30; M. Zadoc, Yehudei Teiman (1967), 208–12; J. Kafih, Halikhot Teiman (1961), 110–56. LEGAL ASPECTS: M. Mielziner, The Jewish Law of Marriage and Divorce … (1901); J. Neubauer, Beitraege zur Geschichte des biblisch-talmudischen Eheschliessungsrechts (1920); Gulak, Yesodei, 3 (1922), 19–22; Gulak, Oẓar, 17–58; idem, in: Tarbiz, 5 (1933/34), 384f.; L.M. Epstein, Marriage Laws in the Bible and the Talmud (1942); E. Neufeld, Ancient Hebrew Marriage Laws … (1944); A. Freimann, Seder Kiddushin ve-Nissu'in Aḥarei Ḥatimat ha-Talmud ve-ad Yameinu (1945); ET, 1 (19513), 257–61; 2 (1949), 137–40, 182–6; 4 (1952), 420–7, 631–51; 5 (1953), 138–52, 168–79; 6 (1954), 710–2; 7 (1956), 43–46; 12 (1967), 154–8; M. Vogelmann, in: Sinai, 43 (1958), 49–55; N. Sachs, in: No'am, 1 (1958), 52–68; O. Joseph, in: Sinai, 48 (1960/61), 186–93; Ḥ. Albeck, ibid., 145–51; M. Silberg, Ha-Ma'amad ha-Ishi be-Yisrael (19654); K. Kahana, The Theory of Marriage in Jewish Law (1966); E. Berkowitz, Tenai ba-Nissu'in u-va-Get (1966); Z.W. Falk, Jewish Matrimonial Law in the Middle Ages (1966); B. Schereschewsky, Dinei Mishpaḥah (19672), 32–51; Elon, Mafte'aḥ, 246–51. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: M. Elon, Ha-Mishpat ha-Ivri (1988), 1:526, 539f., 578, 592, 648, 661, 687f., 708; 3:1474, 1488–99; idem, Jewish Law (1994), 2:656f., 641, 712, 732, 802, 817, 846f., 874; 4:1740, 1754, 1770–84; idem, Ma'amad ha-Ishah (2005), 194–254, 297–383; M. Elon and B. Lifshitz, Mafte'aḥ ha-She'elot ve-ha-Teshuvot shel Ḥakhmei Sefarad u-Ẓefon Afrikah (legal digest), 2 (1986), 385–97; B. Lifshitz and E. Shochetman, Mafte'aḥ ha-She'elot ve-ha-Teshuvot shel Ḥakhmei Ashkenaz, Ẓarefatve-Italyah (legal digest) (1997), 286–91; B. Schereschewsky, Dinei Mishpaḥah (4th ed., 1993), 25–44; J. Neubauer, Toledot Dinei ha-Nisu'in ba-Mikra u-ba-Talmud (1994); P. Shifman, Safek Kiddushin be-Mishpat ha-Yisraeli (1975); Z. Falk, Dinei Nisu'in (1983); R. Biale, Women and Jewish Law (1995); D. Gordis, "Marriage – Judaism's Other Covenantal Relationship," in: R.M. Geffen (ed.), Celebration and Renewal: Rites of Passage in Judaism (1993); I.G. Marcus, The Jewish Life Cycle (2004).

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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