Minimum Number of Men
The minimum number of men at the kidushin part of a wedding is two Jewish males, at least 13 years old (needed as witnesses), plus the groom.
Witnesses: Four Pairs
A Jewish wedding requires four pairs of witnesses, but the same witnesses may be used for all four parts: tanayim; ketuba; kiddushin; yichud. Each witness must be:
- A shomer-Shabbat, adult male,
- Not related to the bride or groom,
- Not related to each other, and
- Known to be an honest person.
Note: There is no requirement to have only people who were born into shomer-Shabbat families as witnesses.
Tanayim and Acquisition
Tanayim are written; an acquisition (kinyan) is made; and the tanayim are read. The mothers of the bride and groom break a china plate.
Who May Write the Ketuba
The ketuba may be written by anyone, whether male or female, Jew or non-Jew.
The ketuba is written before the wedding but is not finished until just before the signing, when one or a few last words are filled in.
The ketuba is signed by two kosher witnesses after tanayim.
Note: The ketuba is read later, under the chuppa.
Meaning of the Ketuba
The ketuba at a wedding is required and the husband obligates himself through the ketuba to support his wife. The ketuba may be the world’s oldest document for women’s rights!
Financial Responsibility of Husband
The husband, not the wife, has the responsibility of financially supporting the family. This is the halacha and not an opinion. That the husband must support his family is explicitly stated in every ketuba.
Safekeeping a Ketuba
A woman must keep her ketuba under her control, but it does not need to be with her or even be in her home. It may be kept with her parents or anywhere else safe. It should not be displayed in public. If she has definitely lost her ketuba (she cannot find it in any place where it should have been), she may not live with her husband unless she has another ketuba written.
Under the Chuppa (Canopy)
A bride may wear other jewelry in addition her wedding ring under the chuppa. It is only a custom of some people not to do so.
A bridegroom is not required to wear a kittel under the chuppa, although many people have that custom.
Steps of Mesader Kidushin
The First Blessings
The mesader kidushin (organizer of the wedding ceremony) makes sure that all procedures are done properly. He says the blessing on the cup of wine and fulfills that requirement for both the bride and groom. He says the second blessing and fulfills it for the groom. In both cases, the bride and groom must have the intention that the mesader kidushin is saying those blessings on their behalf. The groom and bride drink some of the wine.
Confirming the Witnesses
The mesader kidushin asks the witnesses if they are related to either the bride or groom or each other. He then asks the bride and groom if they want these and only these witnesses to be their witnesses.
Checking the Ring
The mesader kidushin then takes the ring and asks the groom “Is this your ring? If so, how did you acquire it?” It must have been acquired in accordance with Jewish law. He shows the ring to the witnesses and asks if it is worth at least a pruta. If they say yes, the groom takes the ring and says “Harei at mekudeshet li…” and places the ring on the bride’s index finger of her primary hand. The witnesses must hear the groom say “Harei at mekudeshet li…” and must see him place the ring on her hand. The wife should not take the ring off of her index finger until after they leave the chuppa. The couple is now married!
Importance of Ring
The wedding ring given by the groom to his bride is important since it represents his “acquisition’” of his bride; after giving the ring, they are married.
Modifying the Ring
The wedding ring may be modified after the wedding, such as for size.
Last Five Blessings
Saying the Blessings
The next set of blessings is said by one or more people. The couple must intend to fulfill their requirements by hearing the blessing on the wine. The groom and bride drink some of the wine.
Breaking the Glass
A glass is broken in commemoration of the destruction of the Temple.
The couple goes to the yichud room. The witnesses must make sure that no one else is inside and that there is only one entrance/exit. The couple is locked in for five minutes. They must eat some food while inside.
Timing of Wedding Meal
If both people have been married before, l’chatchila the wedding (chuppa) may not start during the day and the meal at night. You must start the meal before sunset or else start the wedding after sunset.
Copyright 2015 Richard B. Aiken. Halacha L’Maaseh appears courtesy of www.practicalhalacha.com Visit their website for more information.