Friday, November 13, 2009

Chaye Sarah - Rivka's Beracha

The passuk says in this week’s sedrah:
וַיְבָרֲכוּ אֶת רִבְקָה וַיֹּאמְרוּ לָהּ אֲחֹתֵנוּ אַתְּ הֲיִי לְאַלְפֵי רְבָבָה וְיִירַשׁ זַרְעֵךְ אֵת שַׁעַר שֹׂנְאָיו

“And they blessed Rifka and they said to her, ‘Our sister may you become thousands of ten-thousands and may your children inherit the gates of their enemies.’”

The beraisah in מסכת כלה learns from this passuk that we have to make a berachah when we make kiddushin:
'ומניין לברכת כלה מן התורה? שנאמר 'ויברכו את רבקה
“How do you know that you make a birchas kallah from the Torah? As the passuk says ויברכו את רבקה.”

The Sheiltos in this week's sedrah (sheiltah ט״ז) explains further:
דאילו מאן דבעי למינסב איתתא מיתבעי ליה לקדושי ברישא וברוכי ברכת אירוסין בעשרה וברכת חתנים בעשרה
“If someone wants to marry a woman, they first have to be mekadesh her and make birchas erusin with 10 people and then [after the chupah] they have to make birchas chasanim (sheva berachos) with 10 people.”

The He’emek She’elah explains that this statement of the sheiltos decides two questions in halachah:

Do you make the berachah on kiddushin beforehand or afterwards? 
The sheiltos says that you make the berachah on kiddushin after the actual kiddushin. The opinion of the Rif and the Rambam however, is that the berachah on the kiddushin is made before the actual kiddushin, as is our custom.

The Netziv explains that the reason for this machlokess is that the Rif and the Rambam are of the opinion that birchas erusin is like all other birchas hamitzvos which are said prior to the mitzva.

The sheiltos however is of the opinon that the berachah on kiddushin is a birchas hashevach (a blessing of praise of Hashem) and not a birchas hamitzvos. We do not say asher kideshanu bemitzvosov vetzivonu lekadesh es haisha (who commanded us to betroth a woman), rather we say:
ברוך אתה ה' מקדש עמו ישראל על ידי חופה וקידושין
"Blessed are you Hashem, Who sanctifies his people the benei yisrael through chupah and kiddushin."

We thank Hashem for the kedusha that is imbued in the benei yisrael through these mitzvos. This is why according to the sheiltos the beracha can be made after the event, just like we make a beracha after seeing a rainbow.

The Netziv explains that the proof for the Sheiltos that you can make birchas erusin after kiddushin is from this week’s sedrah. Once Lavan and Besuel said to Eliezer - ותהי אשה לבן אדוניך, Rivka was betrothed to Yitzchak. Nevetheless they only made the berachah on the kiddushin (the birchas erusin) later when they sent her away. We see from here that you can make birchas erusin anytime from the erusin until the chupah.

The Rif and the Rambam however will explain that the beracha that Lavan and Besuel gave to Rivka was a birchas nisuin, as the Pirkei de’Rebbi Eliezer (פרק ט״ז) says:
וכחזן שהוא עומד ומברך את הכלה בחופתה כך עמדו וברכו את רבקה שנאמר ויברכו את רבקה
“Like a chazzan who stands and gives a beracha to the kallah in her chupah so did Lavan and Besuel stand up and give a beracha to Rivka as it says ‘ויברכו את רבקה’.”

Does the berachah for kiddushin require a minyan?
The second halachah that is decided by the sheiltos is that you need a minyan for birchas erusin.
The Rosh (כתובות פרק א' סימן י״ב) quotes Rabbi Shemuel Hanagid who argues that you only need a minyan for sheva berachos but not for the birchas erusin.
The Rosh asks two questions on the opinion of the Sheiltos:
  1. We only find that the requirement for a minyan is mentioned with regards to sheva berachos, as the gemara (כתובות דף ז') brings from Megillas Ruth (4.2):
  2. ‏ויקח עשרה אנשים מזקני העיר
    So why should you need 10 people for birchas erusin?  
  3. Second of all the Rosh asks, we know that the gemara always assumes that kiddushin needs to be in front of 2 people. According to the Sheiltos you will always need 10 people because you need a minyan for the beracha?

The Netziv answers as follows:
  1. In Megillas Ruth, Boaz did kiddushin and nisuin together, so the minyan that he gathered covered the berachos for both the erusin and the nisuin.
  2. According to the Sheiltos you can make birchas erusin anytime between the erusin and the nisuin, so you do not need to gather 10 people for kiddushin as the beracha can be made later any time before the chupah.

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