The Proper Order For Cutting Nails

(This should not be relied upon for practical halacha. When a question arises a Rabbi should be consulted.)

1.The Rama, citing the Avudraham, writes that one should not cut their nails in order, as this leads to poverty, forgetfulness and r”l the loss of one’s children (Darkei Moshe 241). Rather, they should cut them in the following order: On one’s left hand he should first cut the nail of his ring finger, then index finger, then pinky, then middle, and finally thumb (4,2,5,3,1). On one’s right hand he should begin with cutting the nail of his index finger, then ring, then thumb, then middle, and finally pinky (2,4,1,3,5). (Rama 260 see also Shu”t Bitzeil Hachochma 3:53)

2. The Tehila L’David (260:2) and the Aruch Hashulchan (260:6) comment that although the Rama implies that one should first cut the fingernails on the left hand before the right hand that is not so and one should cut the right hand’s nails first. However, they cite the Kol Bo who writes that one should cut the left fingernails before the right fingernails.

3. According to the Chazon Ish one only needs to perform the above prescribed order when cutting one’s fingernails. However, one may cut one’s toenails in any order that one wishes (Sefer Hazicaron Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a). This is also the view of Harav Chaim Naeh zt”l. (Ketzos Hashulchan 73:7)

4. The Arizal, however, was not careful about this matter, and would cut his fingernails in order, one after another. Although, the Magen Avraham and the Mishnah Berurah write that one should nevertheless act stringently in accordance with the ruling of the Rama, the Chida (Birkei Yosef 5) disagrees and rules that if the Arizal was not cautious about these matters, surely there must not be any danger involved. Therefore, one may rule leniently and one cuts his nails in order, one after another. For normative halacha, a rav should be consulted.

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When To Cut One’s Nails According To Halacha

(This should not be relied upon for practical halacha. When a question arises a Rabbi should be consulted.)

1. The Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 260:1) writes that it is a mitzvah to cut one’s nails on Friday in order to honor Shabbos.

2. Harav Chaim Naeh zt”l (Ketzos Hashulchan 73 Badei Hashulchan 3) writes that there is only a mitzvah to cut one’s fingernails on Friday, since they are visible to others one should cut them in order to honor Shabbos. However, there is no obligation to cut one’s toenails on Friday. Yet, it should be noted that the Arizal would customarily cut his fingernails and toenails on Friday in honor of Shabbos (Shaar Hakavanos page 62).

3. The Aruch Hashulchan (260:6), Yesod V’Shoresh Haovodah (8:1) and Sifsei Cohen (cited in Taharas Hamayim tzadi 20) explain that it is preferable to cut one’s nails after midday (chatzos) on Friday. However, the Sefer Orchos Chaim (Spinka 285:4) cites those who rule that it is better to cut one’s nails before midday. It should be noted that the Ari Hakadosh would cut his nails after Mincha (which is also after midday) on Friday. (see Shaar Hakavanos ibid.)

4. The Mishna Berurah (260:6) writes that there is a custom not to cut one’s (fingernails) nails on Thursday. The reason being that nails begin to grow three days after being cut. Therefore if one cuts them on Thursday they will begin to grow on Shabbos. And causing them to begin growing on Shabbos reduces the level of honor for Shabbos, which was achieved by cutting them in the first place.

The Aruch Hashulchan (260:6) notes that there is no prohibition with causing them to grow on Thursday and therefore if one is unable to cut them on Friday he may do so on Thursday. In this instance it is better to cut them on Thursday than Wednesday (see Sefer Chut Shani Shabbos page 62).

[Harav Nissam Karelitz shlit”a adds that it goes without saying that if one’s nails grew long and are becoming bothersome one may cut them even during the week.]

5. Many poskim cite a custom not to cut one’s fingernails and toenails on the same day. Those who observe this custom should cut their toenails on Thursday and their fingernails on Friday (see Magen Avraham and Mishnah Berurah).

6. The Shulchan Aruch Harav (260:2) explains that the rational behind this custom is that it is “dangerous” to cut them both on the same day. The Yesod V’Shoresh Haovoda adds that it can also cause forgetfulness. This writer’s assumption is that these poskim were describing a spiritual danger and not a physical one.

7. In halacha the day follows the night. Based upon this concept the Gaon of Butchetch (Mili D’Chasidusa 57) writes that one may cut his fingernails during the day and toenails later that night since they were cut on two different hallachic days.

8. The Chida, however, writes that the Arizal would cut his fingernails and toenails on the same day and he was not particular with the previous halachos. He therefore writes that one may rule leniently as well.

9. Rav Yechial Safrin zt”l, known as the Komarna Rebbe, writes, “One may cut one’s fingernails and toenails on the same day since this was the custom of the Arizal. If one wishes to be stringent one should leave a baby toenail uncut.” (Shulchan Hatahor 260:3)

10. Harav Yehuda Hachasid writes in his will that one should not cut one’s hair or nails on Rosh Chodesh as this is considered spiritually dangerous. The Mishna Berurah adds that this is true even when Rosh Chodesh falls on a Friday. [There is a much larger discussion as to whether one must adhere to the will of Rav Yehuda Hachasid.]

11. We cited above (Halacha 4) that one should refrain from cutting one’s nails on Thursday as it causes them to grow on Shabbos. However, if Rosh Chodesh falls on Friday one may cut one’s nails on Thursday (Darkei Chaim V’Shalom 353 Az Nidberu 12:4).

12. Harav Yaakov Kaminetzky zt”l (Emes L’Yaakov Shulchan Aruch) maintains that if Thursday and Friday are Rosh Chodesh one may cut one’s hair on Friday. He begins by questioning the ruling of the Mishnah Berurah who warns against getting a haircut when Rosh Chodesh falls on a Friday since the performance of the mitzvah of preparing and honoring Shabbos should protect him from any danger that Harav Yehuda Hachasid warns against. He explains that the Magen Avraham and Mishnah Berurah feel that getting a haircut on Thursday is also a fulfillment of the mitzvah of honoring Shabbos. Therefore, if Rosh Chodesh falls on a Friday one should not get the haircut on that day since one can perform the mitzvah by getting a haircut on Thursday. However, if Rosh Chodesh is on Thursday and Friday one can not perform the mitzvah unless he gets a haircut on Rosh Chodesh. Therefore one should get his haircut on Friday and he can assume that the mitzvah of honoring Shabbos will protect him. The author assumes that this leniency would extend to cutting one’s nails as well, however, for normative halacha a Rav should be consulted.

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Discarding Nail Clippings According To Halacha

(This should not be relied upon for practical halacha. When a question arises a Rabbi should be consulted.)

1. The Gemara (Nidah 17a) emphasizes the importance of discarding one’s nail clippings properly. The reason that the Gemara gives is that a pregnant woman who steps on a nail clipping is in danger of a miscarriage. Accordingly, the Gemara adds that, “One who burns his nails is a chassid, one who buries them is a tzadik, and one who throws them on the floor in a public place is a rasha.” This teaching is codified by many later day authorities including the Mishnah Berurah (260:6).

2. It is therefore imperative that one throws the nails down the toilet or in the garbage. Many great tzaddikim, including the Chazon Ish, were particular to burn their nails. (See Sefer Taameh Dikra, Chut Shani vol. 1 page 62 and Bitzeil Hachachma 2:35)

3. The Beer Heitiv (260:2) cites an interesting explanation as to why stepping on nails can be harmful to pregnant women. He explains that when Adam and Chava before they sinned were covered in a hard nail like membrane. After Chava caused Adam to sin the nail rescinded and now only covers the ends of our toes and fingers. Since Chava caused the nails to become removed from the body, the nails are forever dangerous to pregnant women.

אך א”כ משמע דלאו דוקא לאשה מעוברת אלא הה”ד לכל אשה, וכעין זה מצאתי בלקוטי מהרי”ח ח”ב דף ה’ ע”ב והשאיר בצ”ע. וע”ע בנימוקי יוסף מועד קטן י”ח. שמפלת “משום מיאוס, וי”א משום כשפים”.

4. The Prisha (241) writes that there should be no difference between toenails and fingernails, both may not be placed in an area where a pregnant woman may step on it.34 A similar ruling can be found in the Ben Ish Chai (Year 2 Lech Lecha 14). [Interestingly, the Sefer Otzar Yad Hachaim (1146), however, notes that he found in an Italian Yom Kippur Machzor that one of the things that one asks for atonement is for “throwing one’s fingernails (in an open area).” This implies that the law only applies to fingernails and not toenails.] One should rule stringently in accordance with the view of the Prisha and Ben Ish Chai.

כן נראה פשוט ובפרט דהוי חשש סכנה, ומה עוד דאינו מוכח מהמחזור שאין קפידא בשל צפרני רגליו, דאולי נקט צפרני היד משום שזה מצוי ביותר שיזרוק הצפורן יותר משל צפרני רגליו ע”ש.

5. The Sefer Sheilas Rav (Chapter 12:8) states that Harav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a maintains that a woman should not walk on her own nails or on the nails of a non-Jew. [It must be noted that Harav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a professed that his opinions stated in the Sefer Sheilas Rav should not be relied upon for normative halacha.] However, Harav Yitzchak Zilberstein shlit”a cites Harav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a as ruling that a pregnant woman may walk on the nails of a non-Jew (Melachim Omnayich page 341). For normative halacha, a rav should be consulted.

6. The Gemara (Moed Katan 18a) states that throwing nails in a place where women do not frequent is permitted, since there is no concern that a pregnant woman will step on the nails. It is therefore permissible to throw one’s nails in a bais medrash or in a men’s mikvah (if these areas are not frequented by women).

7. The Gemara says that if the nails fell to the floor and are then swept to a different area they no longer pose any danger to women.

8. The Prisha, based upon the previous halacha, writes that if one dropped a nail he should sweep the area thereby moving the nail and nullifying it’s dangerous properties. The Mishnah Berurah cites the Elyah Rabba who feels that the danger is only removed if the nails are moved to an entirely different room. If, however, they are moved within the room they still are dangerous. The Chida (Birkei Yosef 260:6) rules in accordance with the Prisha. Accordingly, if a pregnant woman enters an area where manicures are taking place the area should be swept in front of her.

ועיין בפרי חדש יו”ד ס’ קט”ז, הובא במחצית השקל ס’ ר”ס ס”ק א’, דמ”מ מסתברא דה”מ דכניש מדוכתא קמא דנפלי ביה ממילא, אבל אי לקח למקום אחד ומיד היה דעתו להזיז אותם למקום השני, אותו המקום השני יש סגולת מקום הראשון ומזיק. וע”ע בספר שמירת הגוף והנפש סימן ס”ח שהביא עוד דברים בענין נטילת צפרנים ע”ש ואכמ”ל.

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Learning Tanach At Night (Part 2)

(This should not be relied upon for practical halacha. When a question arises a Rabbi should be consulted.)

What Is Permissible To Learn-

1. There is a great debate amongst the authorities as to whether one may recite Tehillim at night. The Chida in Shu”t Chaim Shaul writes that the great mekubal Rav Shalom Sharabi noticed that many Israeli communities recited Tehillim in the early hours of the day (before sunrise). In an effort to explain the strange practice he explained that “perhaps Tehillim was not included in the Gezaira of the Arizal,” however, he was not definitive in this view. The Chida further noted that the kabbalists refrain from reciting Tehillim at night. Indeed, the Sefer Pesach Devir cites those that prohibit reciting Tehillim at night. (see Tzitz Eliezet 8:2)

2. The Chida in his Shu”t Yosef Ometz seems to offer a slightly more permissive view. He once again notes that many people customarily recite Tehillim at night. He writes that “I heard from one of the great kabbalists of the day [seemingly referring to Rav Shalom Sharabi] that Tehillim is not included in the what the great Arizal warned against and may be studied at night.” The Chida adds that a permissible view is supported from the Midrash (Bereshit Rabba, Chapter 68, Section 14) that Yaakov Avinu read Tehillim at night. Similarly, King David composed and authored most of Tehillim in the wee hours of the night. The Chida concludes that “if one asks me if one is permitted to read Tehillim at night, I will reply that he has on whom to rely. However, I myself am wary about reading Tehillim at night, besides for on the night of Shabbos.” The Ben Ish Chai, in his Shu”t Rav Poalim (2:2), cites the view of the Chida and concludes that although he would not rebuke those that are lenient, if the person would come and ask him, he would tell him to study portions of the Oral Torah, such as Mishnah, Gemara, or Zohar.

3. Rav Yaakov Niño writes in his Sefer Emet Le’Yaakov that in spite of the words of the Chida, the custom has become to read Tehillim at night after halachic midnight (chatzos). The Ben Ish Chai (Pekudei 7) also writes that one may recite Tehillim after chatzos (although in his Rav Poalim he rules stringently, as noted above). Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l also rules that there is room to allow reading Tehillim after halachic midnight, for the Chida certainly changed his mind regarding the doubt he raises in his Responsa Yosef Ometz. As the Chida writes in his personal diary from the year 5563 (1803): “Teves, Monday night. I was ill and I could not sleep during the night so I read the entire Tehillim and I then went to pray, with Hashem’s help.” It seems that the Chida also saw room for leniency since Tehillim is not included in the prohibition banning Tanach at night. Therefore, those who read Tehillim after halachic midnight certainly have on whom to rely (Yabia Omer vol. 10 page 125).

4. However, other authorities are even more lenient and allow one to recite Tehillim at night even before midnight. This is the view of the Gaon of Botchetch (Aishel Avraham 238), Rav Yisroel Chaim Friedman zt” (cited in Tzitz Eliezer 8:2) and Harav Eliezer Yehuda Waldenberg zt”l. Harav Moshe Stern zt”l (Beer Moshe) writes that one may definitely recite Tehillim after chatzos for any reason. Before chatzos one may (and should) recite Tehillim if one is doing so for a sick person.

5. Rav Chaim Medini zt”l writes that if one committed a certain sin and the prescribed atonement is to recite certain chapters of Tehillim one may recite them at night according to all the authorities (Shu”t Ohr Li 40).

6. The Shu”t Vayechi Yaakov (9) asks how we recite many prayers at night that are filled with verses of Tanach. He responds that the Arizal was warning against learning Tanach. However, reciting verses of Tanach not in the context of learning, rather as a prayer is permissible. However, the poskim who prohibit reciting Tehillim at night (cited above) clearly do not agree with this view as Tehillim is recited as a prayer and not in the context of learning. Indeed, the Vayechi Yaakov allows one to recite Tehillim at night for a sick person.

7. Rav Yechiel Meir Lifschitz (Lipschutz) of Gustinin maintains that one may learn Chumash with Rashi at night. The issue is learning Tanach without commentaries, however, learning it with comentaries is permissible. Learning with Onkelas, however, is not permissible (as noted in the previous post- this law does not apply to Friday night, therefore Shenayim Mikra is permissible on Friday night).

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Learning Tanach At Night (Part 1)

(This should not be relied upon for practical halacha. When a question arises a Rabbi should be consulted.)

The Source-

1. Harav Chaim Vital zt”l cites the Arizal that, based upon kabbalistic reasons, one should not read the written Torah (Tanach) at night. (Shaar Hamitzvos Veschanan page 35b)

This teaching is also cited by the Chida in numerous places (Birkei Yosef 1:13, 238:2, Chaim Shaul 2:25, Yosef Ometz 54). He writes that there is basis for this custom from the Medrash. The Medrash states that when Moshe Rabbeinu ascended to Heaven to receive the Torah, Hashem taught him the Written Torah during the day and the Oral Torah at night. Therefore, we do not learn the Written Torah at night just as Moshe Rabbeinu did not learn it at night.

Indeed, the Rikanti (a Rishon and Kabbalist) writes the following, “It should be known that one needs to learn the Written Torah during the day and the Oral Torah at night. Similarly, the Medrash states that during the forty days that Moshe Rabbeinu was in Heaven (receiving the Torah) he learned the Written Torah during the day and the Oral Torah at night (Yisro 45a).”

2. The Chida (cited by Ben Ish Chai Pekudei 7) maintains that this law was only stated for those that are capable of learning the oral law. However, people that are only able to learn Tanach may do so at night. Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l (Yabia Omer 6:30:2) cites a similar ruling from the Sefer Chemdas Yamim who writes that one who is only able to learn Tanach may do so at night. This is obviously preferred from having him sit idle by all night.

3. Similarly, a child who is unable to learn the Oral law may learn Tanach at night (Shu”t Yayin Hatov 54).

4. The Mishna Berurah (Shaar Hatzion 238) writes that even the Arizal never intended to prohibit learning Tanach at night. Rather, it is preferable to learn other things at night.

5. The Chida (cited in Ikrei Had”t 22:57) writes that one should not rebuke those that learn the Written Torah at night. Harav Chaim Medini zt”l, the author of the Sefer Sdei Chemed, writes that there are numerous Gemaros which imply that one may learn Tanach at night. It is possible, he continues, that this is a case where there is a halachic dispute between the Gemara and Kabbalah and one follows the view of the Gemara. Therefore, although one should not rule leniently one should not rebuke or prohibit the masses (amei haaretz) from learning Tanach at night. (Shu”t Ohr Li 40) [Indeed, the Pri Megadim (cited by the Shaar Hatzion) seems to maintain that one may learn Tanach at night, not in accordance with the Arizal. Perhaps he feels, like Rav Chaim Medini zt”l, that the Gemara is in disagreement with the Arizal.]

When Does This Law Apply-

6. The Sefer Mei Yehuda (22) maintains that the issue of learning Tanach at night begins after nightfall (tzeis hakochavim). One may learn during bein hashmashos, the time between shkiyas hachama and tzeis hakochavim.

7. Rav Meir ben Judah Leib Poppers zt”l, a kabbalist who lived in the mid 1600’s, writes that one only needs to refrain from learning Tanach before chatzos. Following chatzos one may learn Tanach (Ohr Tzadikim Tefila 1:11). A similar view can be found in the Sefer Mishmeres Shalom (23). This is also the view of Harav Ovadia Hadaya zt”l (Yaskil Avdi 4 K”A 2). However, it is quite clear that virtually all the authorities, including the Chida, Ben Ish Chai and Rav Shalom Sharabi zt”l, make no distinction between before chatzos and after chatzos, both are problematic for learning Tanach. (See the next blog for a discussion as to reciting Tehillim before and after chatzos)

8. Harav Chaim Vital writes that on Thursday night one may learn Tanach. Due to the proximity to Shabbos there is added rachamim (mercy) which enables one to learn Tanach without concern of any danger. (see also Vayeishev Hayam 1:6)

9. The Malbim (Ortzos Hachaim 1:36) adds that if it is permissible to learn on Thursday night, all the more so on Friday night. He thereby explains a seemingly puzzling opinion of Rashi. Rashi (explaining a Gemara Kiddushin 30) explains that one divides the week into three sections – two days Chumash, two days Mishnah and two days Gemara. The question the Malbim asks is how can one spend two days learning Chumash if one cannot learn Chumash at night. He answers that one may learn Tanach on Thursday night and Friday night. Therefore, the two days that Rashi is referring to is from Thursday night through Shabbos. The Chida also permits learning Tanach on Friday night.

10. The Malbim continues to cite the Mishna in Yoma (18b) which states that if the Kohen Gadol is able to read Tanach he should spend the night of Yom Kippur reading Scripture. The Malbim questions how this was permissible. He therefore proves that on Yom Kippur one may learn Tanach. Indeed, the Ben Ish Chai writes that one may learn Tanach on the nights of Yom Tov (Pekudei 7).

11. The Ben Ish Chai writes that there is no leniency for the night of Rosh Chodesh (Rav Poalim vol. 2 Orach Chaim 2).

12. The Sefer Zechor L’Avraham (Vol. 3 Lamed) asks how we are able to recite the prayer “Veyitein L’Cha” on Motzei Shabbos as it is comprised of verses from Tanach. He writes that as long as one has not yet eaten the melava malka meal the holiness of Shabbos is still somewhat in existence and one may learn Tanach.

13. The Gaon of Butchetch (238) writes that “perhaps it is permissible for ten men to learn Tanach together at night.” Similarly, the Avnei Tzedek (Y.D. 102) writes that one may conduct a public shiur on Tanach at night. The zechus of public learning removes any kabbalistic concerns. However, most authorities maintain that there is no difference between an individual and a group regarding this halacha.

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The Shushbinim (Part 2)

Who May Not Serve As The Shushbinim-

1. A couple that is divorced should not serve together as the shushbinim. (Sefer Mates Yado 132 and Sefer Yivakshu Mipihu page 528)

2. Harav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l rules that a divorced couple may serve as the shushbinim if the men are escorting the chosson and the women are escorting the kallah, since the divorced couple will not be escorting the chosson or kallah together (Yivakshu Mipihu page 526).

3. Harav Gavriel Zinner shlit”a writes that if ruling stringently will cause an argument, then one may allow for them to serve as the shushbinim. (Netai Gavriel Marriage 14:7)

4. Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l (Igros Moshe Y.D. 3:106) and Harav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l (Yevakshu Mipihu page 536) both feel that if the chosson or kallah have a father who is a non-Jew he may not serve as a member of the shushbinim. Harav Moshe explains that if a non-Jewish man who lived with a Jewish woman is allowed to walk down the aisle, it may appear as if such a union is permitted.

5. According to Harav Moshe’s reasoning, it would seem that a convert may be escorted down the aisle by his non-Jewish parents, since we have no objection to two non-Jews being married. However, Harav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l rules that the parents of a convert should not serve as the Shushbinim. Rather, they should be given a different honor. For practical halacha, a rabbi should be consulted.

6. The poskim cite a custom that if a man or woman are currently in a second marriage (i.e. a parent and stepparent of the chosson or kallah), they should not serve as the shushbinim. (Shulchan Haezer 7:4:1, Ezer Mekodesh E.H. 68, Levushei Mordechai 22 and Yivakshu Mipihu page 530)

7. Harav Moshe Shternbuch shlit”a (Teshuvos V’Hanhagos 2:652) maintains that if the chosson or kallah were raised by their step-parent, the step-parent may escort him down the aisle. He adds that if preventing a step-parent from walking down the aisle will cause a fight, then one may rule leniently and allow it.

8. The Shulchan Haezer (ibid.) writes that if the chosson or kallah are a product of the second marriage, then the parents may serve as the shushbinim. The Rav of Debreczin zt”l agrees with the ruling of the Shulchan Haezer (Beer Moshe 3:184). This is also the custom of Vizhnitz Chassidim (Netai Gavriel ibid.). Other poskim, however, rule stringently (Netai Gavriel ibid. and Chelkas Yaakov cited in Beer Moshe ibid.).

9. Some poskim feel that a couple that is childless should not serve as the shushbinim (Shulchan Haezer ibid.).

10. The Rav of Debreczin zt”l explains that if the couple is young and still capable of having children, and they just have not been blessed yet, they may serve as the shushbinim. If however, the couple feels uneasy about serving as the shushbinim, then they should refrain from doing so.

11. Harav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l maintains that a childless couple may always serve as the shushbinim (Yivakshu Mipihu page 538). For normative halacha, a rabbi should be consulted.

12. The Shulchan Haezer and Harav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l write that although many people feel that a pregnant woman cannot escort the kallah down the aisle, this ruling is unfounded and it is actually permitted.

13. However, many poskim feel that if a pregnant woman were to serve as a member of the shushbinim, it may cause an ayin hara (evil eye) and therefore should be avoided. (see Nisuin K’Hilchosom page 440)

14. The Rav of Debreczin zt”l rules that there is only a concern of ayin hara once her pregnancy is visible to others. Before that point it would be permitted. This was also the view of the Rebbe of Munkatch zt”l (Haskama to Sefer Zocher Habris).

15. The custom of Chabad Chassidim (Sefer Haminhagim page 76) is that if the mother of either the chosson or kallah is pregnant, an additional married couple should be taken to circle the chosson under the chuppah.

16. Harav Gavriel Zinner shlit”a writes that if the mother of the chosson or kallah is pregnant and it will cause pain and strife if she does not escort her child down the aisle, then she may be allowed to do so. For normative halacha, a rabbi should be consulted.

The Shushbinim (Part 1)

Who Generally Serves As The Shushbinim-

1. The shushbinim, or attendants, are those who escort the chosson and kallah down the aisle. (Rama Y.D. 391:3, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 147:5, Tashbeitz Katan 465 and Mateh Moshe Hachnasas kallah)

2. A chosson and kallah have attendants serving them just as a king or queen would have. The most common custom is that the parents of the chosson and kallah serve as the shushbinim. (Levushei Mordechai 22, see also Igros Moshe Y.D. 3:106, Koveitz Hameor Teves 5725 and Mishnah Halachos 5:247)

3. If the chosson or kallah do not have parents, then the closest relatives should serve as the shushbinim. If they do not have relatives and were raised by adoptive or foster parents, then the adoptive or foster parents should serve as the shushbinim. (Hagahos Minhagei Worms vol. 2 page 32)

4. Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l had a unique approach when it came to the shusbinim. By his eldest son’s wedding, he and his wife and the future in-laws served as the shushbinim. However, for the rest of the children he and his wife did not serve as the shushbinim. Rather, for the wedding of his second son, his eldest son and his wife served as the shushbinim. Each married child served as the shushbinim for the immediately younger sibling. This is an old custom of those living in Yerushalayim. (Shalmei Simcha) However, as noted above, the common custom is that the parents serve as the shushbinim.

5. Many have the custom that the father of the chosson and the father of the kallah escort the chosson down the aisle. The father of the chosson stands on the right side of the chosson and the father of the kallah on the left side of the chosson. The mother of the chosson and the mother of the kallah escort the kallah down the aisle. The mother of the kallah stands on the right side of the kallah and the mother of the chosson on the left side of the kallah. (see Nisuin K’Hilchosom page 439) The Sefer Shu”t Beis Avi (1:142) testifies that this was the custom in Poland, Hungary, and Galizcia. This is also the custom of Belz and Chabad Chassidim. Many of those in Yerushalayim also follow this custom (Mishnah Halachos 9:287).

6. Many Americans, especially from Lithuanian descent, have the custom that the parents of the chosson escort the chosson and the parents of the kallah escort the kallah. (a source for this custom can be found in hagahos Igra Dtzvi on Sifra Igra D’Pirka 67) This is also the custom of Stolin and Karlin Chassidim (Netai Gavriel Marriage page 108).

Although some have questioned the validity of this custom (see Shevet Halevi 3:187), many congregations have accepted this approach (see Yismach Lev page 74 and Beer Moshe 5:165).

7. As stated above, in Yerushalayim the custom is that the men escort the chosson, while the women escort the kallah. Therefore, argues Harav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l (yivakshu Mipihu page 524), if an American is marrying an Israeli and the wedding will take place in Yerushalayim, the wedding procession must adhere to the custom of Yerushalayim. For normative halacha, a rabbi must be consulted.

8. Customarily, the shushbinim link arms with the chosson and kallah as they walk down the aisle. Some poskim feel that if the chosson or kallah will be escorted by anyone other than their parents (such as step-parents), it is preferred for the men to escort the chosson and the women escort the kallah, so as to avoid any physical contact between the men and the women.

לדעת רוב הפוסקים דיש איסור של חיבוק ונישוק אצל בן מאומץ, וכמבואר באוצר הפוסקים ס’ כ”א, ובסופו מהאדמו”ר מליבאויטש זצ”ל. ועיין באגרות משה אה”ע ח”ד ס’ ס”ד שמשמע שמצדד להקל דהוי אינו דרך חיבה, אכן עדיין אין להקל, שהרי רוב פוסקים סוברים דאף חיבוק ונישוק אינו דרך חיבה הוי עדיין איסור דרבנן, וכמו שהארכתי בזה בספרי ומקרב בימין לענין נתינת יד לאשה. ועוד כל ההיתר שם הוא רק באופן שהבן נתגדל אצל האשה, אבל אם האשה נשא אביו כשבן הוא גדול, אין היתר כלל.

9. The custom is that the shushbinim are a married couple. If the mother is a widow, she and one of her sons may serve as the shushbinim.