Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Standing for the Chosson and Kallah at a Wedding

What is the origin of the practice to stand for a chosson and kallah at their wedding? The topic recently came up on a discussion list that I subscribe to, and the following has been pieced together from that discussion and other archived discussions found using Google.

One reason often given is because "chosson domeh l'melech", that a groom is compared to a king. The source for this is the end of Pirkei d'Rabbi Eliezer, chapter 16, which states:

"A groom is similar to a king. Just as a king does not go out in public alone, so, too, a groom does not go out in public alone. Just as a king wears garments of honor, so, too, does a groom wear garments of honor during the seven days of rejoicing. Just like everyone praises a king, so, too, everyone praises a groom during the seven days of rejoicing. Just like the king's face shines like the sun, so, too, does a groom's face shine like the sun, as it says (Tehillim 19): 'He made a tent with them (the heavens) for the sun, which is like a groom going forth from his canopy'."

A rebbe of mine noted that this axiom is only said regarding a groom, though - and moreso, there is no halachic concept of a queen who can demand the same level of honor and awe that a king can (as described in the 2nd perek of Sanhedrin). This being the case, he argued that the parallel custom to stand for a bride has no basis.

Another reason often given is based on Bikkurim 3:3, which states that the craftsmen of Yerushalayim would stop their work and stand to greet the people who were bringing Bikkurim. In the Yerushalmi, R' Yosei b"r Bun states that the reason for showing them this honor is because they are going to do a mitzvah. This idea may also be the reason why we stand at Vayevarech David, due to the practice of giving tzedaka at that point during davening, but I'm not sure if there are any other situations where we stand for those who are going to do a mitzvah. The mitzvah involved would presumably be p'ru ur'vu, as I don't believe that marriage itself constitutes a mitzvah. This being the case, the practice would, again, apply only to a chosson, as the kallah doesn't have a mitzvah of p'ru ur'vu.

One poster noted that thirty years ago, no one stood for the chosson (or kallah), which may mean that it's a new practice altogether. Another poster observed that in Europe, the minhag was always to stand for the entire chuppah (and, indeed, some say that one is m'chuyav to stand for the entire sheva brachos under the chuppah, either as a din of kavod la-melech or because the nisu'in are considered to be a davar she-bikdusha, similar to Borchu, Kaddish, and Kedusha, which all require standing, so that the question of when to stand and when to sit never came up, further evidence that this may be a minhag amerika'i

Regardless of the validity of and reason behind the practice to stand for the chosson and kallah, it should be noted that there is a mitzvah d'oraisa to stand for the elderly (mipnei seivah takum), so that the people who are sitting along the aisle should *certainly* stand when the grandparents of the chosson and kallah pass within 4 amos of them in circles where the practice is for them to walk down the aisle (assuming that they are, indeed, above the age of 70).

Update, 8/12: The excerpt from R' Zev Cinamon's new sefer "BeYom Chasunaso" cited by Chaim B. in a comment, scanned by Dr. Yitzchak Levine. Sounds like a fascinating sefer.

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At 8/08/2007 12:11 PM, Blogger Chaim B. said...

I am in the middle of writing a review of R' Zev Cinamom's new book "B'Yom Chasunaso", and, after collecting the sources, he writes that he is not convinced that there is a basis for the minhag of standing. He also notes, as you did, that one would be obligated to stand for an elderly person walking down the aisle.

At 8/10/2007 9:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the problem with the "dome l'melech" sevara is that the guy would not have a halachick designation of a chasan and thus a melech until after the kiddushin - so if one were to use that sevara, he would have to stand for the chasan after kiddushin but certainly not before.

At 8/10/2007 11:43 AM, Blogger Josh M. said...

True, some do point that out. Thanks for mentioning it.

At 8/22/2007 11:28 AM, Anonymous anon1 said...

Re: the bikurim sevara, the kalah is clearly performing a mitzva -- even if she is not chayav in pru urvu -- so the sevara to stand for her should apply as well. The mishna in the beginning of the 2nd perek of kidushin -- haishah miskadeshes bah ubeshlucha and the gemara comments -- mitzva ba yoser mibeshlucha. The Ran points out though she is not chayav she clearly is being mesayea le-devar mitzvah (and I would add, in an indispensable way). Even for the chasan, his "mitzvah" is not so clear. Not all rishonim hold that kidushin itself is a mitzva in which case, the chasan would be doing a hechsher mitzvah. Once we have taken it that far removed, is it so hard to say that we should stand for the kallah as well?

At 8/27/2007 12:05 PM, Blogger Josh M. said...

This would then bring up the question if we would stand up for a m'sayei'a lidvar mitzvah - I guess it depends on the reason for the practice.

At 8/28/2007 5:12 PM, Anonymous anon1 said...

If you accept that we stand up for the gabbai tzedaka (and hence the minhag to stand and vayevarech David), isn't it clear that we do stand up for a mesayia? Unless you say that the gabbai tzedaka is himself performing a mitzvah (due to a sevara like gadol ha-measeh yoser min ha-oseh).


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