Shabbat Parashat Lech Lecha| 5767
Ask the Rabbi
Question: We had a chatan (groom) in shul the week after his wedding, and thus we omitted Tachanun and Av Harachamim, respectively. Someone suggested this was incorrect because the bride and groom had both been previously married. Who is right?
Answer: A minyan omits Tachanun in the presence of a chatan, whether it is held in the chatan’s home or he comes to shul (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 131:4). This is because those properly joining the chatan’s simcha should make the morose subject matter of Tachanun inappropriate. The Beit Yosef (OC 131) points out that it is possible to omit Tachanun because its recitation is regarded as relatively optional.
Generally, a couple is in a festive state during the shivat y’mei hamishteh (seven days of celebration, commonly called Sheva Berachot) (see Shulchan Aruch, Even Ha’ezer 62:6). However, the Rama (Orach Chayim 131:4) says that the chatan eliminates Tachanun only on his wedding day. The Shiyarei Knesset Hagedolah (131:16) suggests that the Rama only intended that it does not begin prior to the wedding day but he agrees it lasts beyond. In any case, the minhag is that Tachanun is omitted for the full seven days (ibid; Mishna Berura 131:26).
The issue is that Sheva Berachot is curtailed in the case of those who were previously married (even to others). There are two main elements to the status of the week of Sheva Berachot. First, meals the couple takes part in are considered festive ones, warranting special berachot. Additionally, the husband must remain home from work and provide his wife with an atmosphere of simcha (Shulchan Aruch, Even Ha’ezer 64:1). The berachot are recited when either newlywed is in his or her first relationship. However, regarding a couple both of whom had been married, the berachot are recited for only one day (Ketubot 7a; the discussion of how to count that day is beyond our present scope). Regarding staying home, the period of time is reduced to three days, at least regarding a couple who were both previously married. There is a machloket regarding a man who was never married with a woman who was (Shulchan Aruch, ibid.:2).
So we must ask which element determines the exemption from Tachanun? It is generally agreed that when one of them is in a first relationship there is no Tachanun for seven days, as it is considered the days of festivities, as is evident from the berachot. Regarding both spouses who were previously married, although there is only one day of Sheva Berachot, the fact that they are to be happy together is sufficient to eliminate Tachanun for three days (Mishna Berura, ibid.). Haelef Lecha Shlomo (OC 60) explains as follows. The reason that a chatan eliminates Tachanun from an entire shul is that he is like a king. He posits that the comparison is in regards to the fact that the ascent to the new status of each causes his sins to be forgiven, which, as is evident from the gemara, applies even in a later marriage.
The Chesed L’Avraham (I, OC 10) takes the comparison to the king differently. The king’s special status finds expression in the halacha that he is not able to relinquish his right to be honored. So too a first time couple has an objective status that cannot be relinquished; therefore, the chatan brings the whole congregation along with him. Regarding a second marriage for both, the bride can waive the rabbinically imposed obligation for the chatan to create simcha for her (Rama, EH 64:2). Therefore, in this non-objective state of simcha, the chatan cannot bring others along. He rules then that only if the minyan takes place at the place of celebration would Tachanun be omitted. However, other poskim do not accept the Chesed L’Avraham’s chiddush.
In summary, in the case you referred to, Tachanun should have been omitted for three days. When Tachanun is left out, Av Harachamim and Tzidkatcha, at their respective times, follow suit (see Shulchan Aruch, OC 284:7; 292:2).
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