5 – Weddings and Engagements During the Omer Peeriod

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After having discussed the duration of the mourning period, we will now delineate the laws of the various customs in detail. The Ga’onim write that ever since Rabbi Akiva’s students died in the period between Pesach and Shavu’ot, the Jewish people have a custom not to get married during this time.
Several poskim hold that only optional marriages are prohibited, like that of a man who has been married before and has already fulfilled the mitzvah of procreation. However, one who has yet to procreate may get married during Sefirah, because the mitzvah overrides the custom (Radvaz, Pri Chadash). In practice, though, the Acharonim determine that the custom is not to get married during this period, even if one has yet to fulfill the mitzvah of procreation. Otherwise, the custom of mourning would have almost no significance. One is, however, permitted to remarry his ex-wife, because there is a mitzvah involved and it is not an overly joyous occasion (M.B. 493:1, K.H.C. 2-3).
According to the custom of most Sefardim, the prohibition against weddings lasts from the beginning of the Omer until the thirty-fourth day of the count. [That is], one may get married from the morning of the 34th and on. Some Sefardic communities follow a more lenient custom, celebrating weddings already on Lag B’Omer (the thirty-third). In pressing situations, one may follow this practice, in accordance with the ruling of a wise scholar (see above, note 3).
The Ashkenazi custom in Eretz Yisrael is to forbid weddings from the beginning of the Omer until the twenty-ninth of Iyar, allowing them [only] from Rosh Chodesh Sivan and on. Some rabbis permit those who have yet to fulfill the mitzvah of procreation to get married from Lag B’Omer and on. When there is a [special] need, a wise scholar should be consulted. All Ashkenazi customs agree that one is allowed to get married on the day of Lag B’Omer, and some are even lenient on the night of Lag B’Omer. Everyone also agrees that if a couple gets married on the day of Lag B’Omer, they may continue the celebrations into the night of the thirty-fourth.
The Chief Rabbinate [of Israel] has established that all Ashkenazim may get married on the 28th of Iyar, the day Jerusalem was liberated. 1
If someone is invited to a wedding on a day that weddings are forbidden according to his custom, but the groom follows a custom in which weddings are permitted, he may attend the affair, partake of the meal, and dance with joy before the bride and groom (Iggrot Moshe O.C. 1:159).
Only weddings are forbidden. One is, however, permitted to make what is called today an “engagement” party, on condition that no music is played. 2 it involves some degree of mitzvah observance. After all, it strengthens the bond between the couple. Nonetheless, one should not play music at such an occasion, because it is not considered an actual se’udat mitzvah (a meal celebrating the performance of a mitzvah), as the Magen Avraham (493:1) and Mishnah Berurah (493:3) demonstrate regarding se’udat shidduchin (a meal celebrating an engagement), as opposed to what [R. Ovadya Yosef] writes in Yalkut Yosef (35) in [the Mishnah Berurah’s] name. Furthermore, we will explain below, in section 9, that even at a [full-fledged] se’udat mitzvah, like a brit milah (circumcision), it is permissible to play music only if the local custom is to always play music at such events, and many people do not play music at engagement parties. In the last few years, [however], many people have adopted the custom of playing music and dancing at engagement parties. [Therefore], one who believes that this is the custom of his entire milieu, he may act leniently, if he wishes, in accordance with what is minimally accepted. [Still], it is proper to also complete a Talmudic tractate [at the party]. ]

  1. Regarding the custom not to get married until Rosh Chodesh Sivan, see note 4. For elaboration on the law of the night of Lag B’Omer, see note 5. If the wedding took place during the day of Lag B’Omer, the celebrants may continue the meal and dance on the night of the thirty-fourth (see Piskei Teshuvot 493:11). Also see HaNisu’in KeHilchatam, chap. 5, 19-34; and Matza Tov, pp. 274-79. Some say that it is preferable to get married on the night of Lag B’Omer, so that the joy and dancing will not carry over into the thirty-fourth (Hilchot Chag B’Chag 7, end of note 71).
    Some Ashkenazi poskim allow, under pressing circumstances, a couple to get married on Friday, the 31st day of the Omer, when Lag B’Omer falls out on Sunday, just like the Rama permits haircuts on that day. Others forbid this (see HaNisu’in KeHilchatam 5:23, Piskei Teshuvot 493:11). According to Sefardi practice, it seems clear that one should not act leniently in this regard.
    The Mishnah Berurah (493:5) holds that if Rosh Chodesh Iyar falls out on Shabbat – making it doubly joyous – one may get married on Friday and serve the meal and rejoice on Shabbat/Rosh-Chodesh. Sefardim rule leniently in this case only under pressing circumstances (K.H.C. 493:42, based on Beit David and Chida).
  2. Even though such a party is joyous, [it is permitted because
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