09. Marriage and Engagement

It is customary in most Jewish communities that no weddings are held during the Three Weeks. Technically, the prohibition applies only to an “optional” wedding, i.e., that of a man who has already fulfilled the mitzva of procreation by fathering a son and a daughter; one who has yet to fulfill this mitzva may get married even during the Nine Days. Nevertheless, it is customary not to schedule any weddings during this period, because it is an inauspicious time. Weddings should take place in times of good omens and good fortune, and this period is not one of good omen or good fortune. Some Sephardim do not hold weddings only during the Nine Days (see n. 5).
Until the first of Av, one may hold a modest, small-scale engagement party. Since such a party is a celebration of the couple’s agreement to get married, the event contains a mitzva component and is thus permitted (see above ch. 3 n. 7, regarding whether one may play music at such an event). One may not, however, hold a large-scale engagement party during the Three Weeks. During the Nine Days, when we must curtail our joy, one may not hold even a modest, small-scale party. However, the parents of the couple may meet, even during the Nine Days, in order to decide on the details of the wedding, and refreshments may be served at this meeting. Even though this, too, involves joy, it is permissible because such a meeting transforms the couple’s relationship into an accomplished fact, which brings them closer to the mitzva of marriage. It is also permissible for singles to date for the sake of marriage during the Nine Days. 1

  1. Beit Yosef and mb 551:14 explain that even marriages that fulfill a mitzva are prohibited during this period, because the time is inauspicious. Vilna Gaon 551:69 adds a novel idea, explaining that even from the standpoint of mourning the destruction of the Temple, one should refrain from getting married during this period. As the Talmud (bb 60b) states, if it were possible, it would be proper to avoid marriage altogether following the destruction of the Temple. Though we are unable to do this, it is proper to refrain from getting married at least during the Three Weeks.
    The Sephardic custom: Yemenite Jews do not get married starting from the seventeenth of Tamuz. Knesset Ha-gedola (whose author was from Turkey) was stringent, ruling that one may not even get engaged during the Three Weeks, and indeed, Moroccan Jews follow this custom. Ben Ish Ĥai, Year 1, Devarim 4 forbids weddings and states that it is proper to be stringent regarding engagements as well, in accordance with the ruling of Knesset Ha-gedola. Kaf Ha-ĥayim 551:44 also cites this position. R. Mordechai Eliyahu concurs in Hilkhot Ĥagim 25:3. sa 551:2, however, forbids weddings only during the Nine Days, and Yabi’a Omer 6:43 reinforces this, adding that one should not be stringent when it means restricting a mitzva, especially in our generation.
    A couple may undergo erusin (betrothal, i.e., kiddushin without ĥupa) during the Nine Days, and even on Tisha Be-Av itself, so that the man can ensure that no one else may preempt him and marry the woman. This is permissible only on condition that no festive meal is served during the Nine Days. Nowadays, we perform the erusin and nisu’in (marriage) together. Nonetheless, we learn from the fact that erusin is permitted that the parents of the couple may meet during the Nine Days in order to agree upon the conditions of the marriage, and that light refreshments may be served there. mb 551:16 rules this way as well.
This entry was posted in 8 - The Customs of the Three Weeks. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.