Precious Time Must Be Utilized Wisely

It is my hope that you will jealously guard your time, filling it with substance — with the content of Torah and mitzvos, Toras HaNigleh and Toras HaChassidus, performing mitzvos in the most exemplary manner in general, and particularly the service of prayer (avodas haTefillah), which is fundamental and essential to fulfilling the above (as explained in many placed in Chassidus, among them: Likkutei Torah, Balak, p. 70d and in Kuntres HaTefillah at length).

Seemingly you have yet to begin doing the above; yet the time preceding a wedding is as precious as time can be (yakar mikal yakar), since the preparations that are made then affect one’s entire life, as is readily understood.

Surely G‑d gives the person strength that if he but truly desires and properly labors and toils, he will succeed in all these matters.

I anticipate hearing from you glad tidings regarding all the above.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIV, p. 82)

Preparing a Parapet —
The Chassan’s Preparation to Building a Home

“When you build a new home, make a parapet for your roof.”1 ....

This refers to the beginning of one’s marriage. When a person marries and sets up a home, he must take upon himself the yoke of earning a livelihood. At such a time a person’s spiritual status may easily plummet.

The Torah therefore reminds the individual that since he is beginning a new home and a new lifestyle, with a greater degree of immersion in physicality, he must build a parapet.

Clearly his previous manner of spiritual service will not suffice, and he must take upon himself additional parapets so as not to take a spiritual tumble in thought, speech, or deed.

(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XIX, p. 208)

The Responsibility

You surely understand that upon becoming engaged you are taking upon yourself (even before you are married) the responsibility for an additional Jewish soul.

Thus, your future conduct should be in a manner that you inspire others as well in matters of Yiras Shomayim, and Torah and mitzvos. And a word to the wise will suffice. ...

May your wedding take place in a good and auspicious hour.

I will mention you at the Tziyun for all the above.

(From a handwritten response of the Rebbe)2

Spiritual Preparations Of Greater Import Than Fiscal

You write about the [fiscal] preparations necessary for your marriage and the limited time you have to prepare for it properly:

It is true that our Sages, of blessed memory, have addressed at length the importance of dowering the bride (hachnosas kallah) and the preparations necessary thereto.

Nevertheless, during current times, it is my considered opinion that greater emphasis needs to be placed on the spiritual preparations [to the wedding]. Any saved additional expenses should be dedicated to Torah and mitzvos for the joint merit of chassan and kallah.

With my blessings that [I be able to hear from you] glad tidings regarding ample sustenance and truly ample spirituality.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVIII, p. 16)

Different Forms of Preparation

The Rebbe once inquired of a chassan during Yechidus whether he had already made “preparations” for the wedding. Taking it for granted that the Rebbe was inquiring about his spiritual preparations for the wedding, the chassan responded accordingly.

The Rebbe replied: Do you have a dwelling? Do you have furniture? A kapoteh? — I didn’t ask you whether you were davening....

On another occasion, when the Rebbe inquired of a chassan during Yechidus whether he had already made “preparations” for the wedding, that chassan assumed that the Rebbe was inquiring about his material preparations for the wedding and responded in kind.

To him the Rebbe replied: But what about your davening and learning Chassidus — the true preparations!?3

Keeping Up One’s Regular Torah Lessons

You write that because of the preparations necessary for your upcoming wedding you had to cease learning a number of your regular Torah lessons. I am wholly unsatisfied by this manner of conduct.

To the contrary, if during ordinary days one must hold strong and fast to Torah, for Torah is the conduit that draws down — and the vessel that receives — G‑d’s Divine blessings and beneficence, then how much more so is Torah study necessary in preparation to one’s wedding.

Even if it is entirely so that many things are occupying your time in preparation for your wedding, [still you should not cut out any of your lessons;] rather, diminish the time of each lesson. You should not, however, cease any one of them. For one never knows what component and facet of Torah one is in need of at any given time or place.

This also explains the statement of our Sages, of blessed memory, in Eruvin 54a, that if one has a headache he should study Torah, and if one has a sore throat he should study Torah. The Gemara concludes that when he will do so, he will be healed.

The question [regarding this statement] is simple: We verily observe people who have headaches and study Torah and are not relieved of their headaches.

Of the many answers that are provided to the above question, one of them is that Torah is an entire organism, as it states:4 “This is the Torah — man.” [Just as man is an organic whole, so too is Torah.]

Torah thus contains elements that relate to the head and other elements that relate to the throat, etc. In consequence, when one has a headache he should study Torah. If G‑d graces him with good fortune and he happens upon that section of Torah that relates to the head, then he will be healed of his headache.

Not everyone, however, is spiritually clear-sighted enough to find the appropriate section of Torah that provides healing for one’s headache, or the specific portion of Torah that relieves one’s sore throat, etc.

Just as this is so with regard to ailments, so too regarding your situation. We do not know what particular section or segment of Torah would be most beneficial to your current status [as a chassan].

Since by individual Divine Providence you have established Torah study sessions in many sections of the Torah, you are therefore to keep them all.

If you cannot keep them as you have done up until now, then do nothing more than shorten the time of each study session. Do not, however, entirely cut out any of them.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. V, p. 53)

Priority Should Be Given to Marriage Laws

.. Your first priority with regard to your Torah studies before your wedding should be studying those laws that are necessary [to know] and become germane when one is married.

Regarding your studies in Chassidus — priority should be given to maamarei avodah.5

Ask your mashpia about what to learn during the rest of the time.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XXIV, p. 317)

Studying the Necessary Laws With a Married Study Partner

You surely received in good time my letter with wishes of mazal tov for your engagement with your kallah tichyeh.

Regarding your question as to a structured order (seder) of Torah study, spiritual conduct, and Divine service until the time of your marriage:

I have not heard any specific instructions [regarding this matter, and therefore cannot definitively answer your question]; neither do you write in you letter when the wedding date was set, in a good and auspicious hour.

Approximately several weeks before the wedding, one must commence studying those laws that are necessary for one to know (hilchos hatzrichos) [when one is married, such as] the Laws of Niddah and the like. In fact, it would be best that you study these laws with a study partner from Anash sheyichyu who is already married.

During the days prior to the wedding, study Reishis Chochmah, Shaar HaKedushah, Chapters 15, 16 and 17.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. V, p. 129)

Begin Studying the Necessary Laws In Plenty of Time

Surely you will begin studying those laws that one must know [when one is married] as part of your preparation for marriage. For many obvious reasons the study must be with a study partner [who is already knowledgeable in these areas].

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVII, p. 98)

Study of Reishis Chochmah

You are surely aware of the fine custom that in the days immediately preceding the chuppah, as well as somewhat prior to these days, you should study Chapters 16 and 17 of Reishis Chochmah, Shaar HaKedushah.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VII, p. 362)

Memorize at Least One Chapter of Tanya

.. It would be appropriate for you to study Chapters 16 and 17 of Reishis Chochmah, Shaar HaKedushah (in a manner that you complete it before the day of your chuppah). Memorize as well (veyi’yeh baki baal peh) at least one chapter of Tanya.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIV, p. 84)

Study the Maamar Lechah Dodi

In reply to your query:

Study chapters 16 and 17 of Reishis Chochmah, Shaar HaKedushah (in a manner that you complete it before your wedding).

Study as well the maamar Lechah Dodi (of my father-in-law, the Rebbe) printed in Derushei Chassunah.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVIII, p. 400)

Inquire Among Elder Chassidim as to Traditions
Regarding Preparation to the Wedding

In response to a chassan’s inquiry during a Yechidus as to the preparations he should make for his wedding, the Rebbe replied:

Inquire of elder chassidim who studied in [Tomchei Temimim in] Warsaw, Otwock and Lubavitch, what they have “received” [via oral tradition] about this matter [of the proper spiritual preparations for a marriage].6

Not to Be Too Occupied With Ordination Tests
Just Prior to the Wedding

The Rebbe once told a chassan during a Yechidus close to the time of the chassan’s marriage:

Now you are going to occupy yourself with the test [for semichah]?! At this point in time it is essential to learn the laws [pertaining to marriage] and to learn Chassidus.

When you will determine the time that you will be tested after your wedding (approximately six weeks after your wedding), then since this determination is being discussed prior to the wedding, it is precisely as if you had received semichah prior to the wedding.

(Kovetz Binyan Adei Ad, p. 15)

When a Levite or Israelite Marries a Kohen’s Daughter

Attaining the Classification Of a “Talmid Chocham”

Since — as you indicate in your letter — your kallah is a bas Kohen (a Kohen’s daughter), therefore in accordance with the directives of our Sages, of blessed memory, you are to strengthen and increase your Torah studies and lessons so that you at least approximate the description of a talmid chocham, a Torah scholar.

You do not write on what date the wedding was set, in a good and auspicious hour. It would be fitting that if you still have several months to your wedding, then you should make an effort to conclude all Six Orders of the Mishnah. This is in addition to your regular Torah lessons.

Should this prove to be impossible, then at least endeavor to study one or two Orders [of the Mishnah]. At the very least, study the [minor tractate] Kallah.

May G‑d grant that all [the preparations to the wedding as well as the wedding itself] take place in a good and auspicious hour and for a mazal tov.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VI, p. 83)

Add a Torah Session And Master a Tractate

.. Since your kallah is a bas Kohen, you should add a Torah study session and seek to master a tractate [of the Talmud] ....

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. V, p. 283)

Additional Undertakings — Bli Neder

When someone who is going to marry a bas Kohen takes upon himself to study (or give tzedakah) on a daily basis, he should verbally express that he is doing so bli neder,[i.e., without vowing to do so].

(Kovetz Binyan Adei Ad, p. 18)

Increasing One’s Torah Study Sessions

As your daughter is a bas Kohen, surely the chassan is increasing his Torah study sessions — see Responsa of the Tzemach Tzedek, Even HaEzer, Section 11.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VII, p. 154)7

Master a Tractate

.. The Torah ruling quoted in Responsa of the Tzemach Tzedek, Even HaEzer, Section 11, is already well known: The Tzemach Tzedek concludes that a chassan who is marrying a bas Kohen should attain mastery of at least one tractate [thus attaining the title of talmid chocham].

Additionally, states the Tzemach Tzedek, since this conduct [of marrying a bas Kohen — although one seemingly lacks the qualifications] has become increasingly common (kvar dashu bo rabim), it is all the more reason to permit it.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XI, p. 115)

The More One Studies the Better

My statement with regard to how one is to conduct himself when marrying a bas Kohen is in keeping with the ruling of the Tzemach Tzedek in his Responsa Even HaEzer, Section 11, to the effect that one is to attain mastery of one of the tractates [of the Talmud] (at least, [gaining mastery of] one of the minor tractates. He need only master the subject, but he need not know the text by heart.)

Whosoever increases his Torah knowledge [as part of his conduct in marrying a bas Kohen] is commensurately increasingly blessed with all matters of eternal goodness [bechol tuv selah].

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIII, p. 123)

Master the Content of a Minor Tractate

In reply to a chassan who was engaged to a bas Kohen and who asked the Rebbe what he should learn, the Rebbe responded:

Master the content (not the words) of a single tractate (of the minor tractates).

(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXIV, p. 462)

The Custom Within the Households
Of the Rebbeim Regarding Rabbinic Ordination

It was the custom within the households of the Rebbeim (Minhag Beis HaRav) for a bridegroom to arrange his course of studies so that he would obtain Rabbinic ordination (semichah) before his wedding.

(Sefer HaMinhagim, p. 75)

It is Minhag Beis HaRav that prior to the wedding, one studies for and obtains semichah. Although this is the conduct of Beis HaRav, [this custom is not limited only to them,] for — as stated on many occasions — those customs that were publicized apply to everyone.

Understandably, this custom is a directive to all: a chassan is to receive semichah prior to his wedding.

The simple reason for this [custom of receiving semichah] is: Since various questions arise in a household and one cannot always go to a rav and ask [him for a ruling], therefore it is necessary to see to it that there be a rav in the house, [i.e., by receiving semichah the person himself is a rav and can issue the proper ruling].

Consequently, it is important to strongly encourage that each and every individual who desires to build an “eternal edifice,” [i.e., is thinking of getting married] (as well as those who have already married) should obtain semichah.

In days past it was a given that in order to obtain semichah one first had to be able to learn well, after which one had to know properly Tur and all four sections of the Shulchan Aruch, or at least [the entire] Yoreh De’ah and Even HaEzer.

Presently it has become customary to begin by studying Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, after which one adds and learns Shulchan Aruch with the commentaries of the Shach and Taz. Afterwards, if the individual has free time, he will add certain specific sections of Tur and Beis Yosef.

My intent is that semichah be obtained at least in the above manner, so that one at least knows how to conduct himself [in his household]. This requires knowledge of Orach Chayim and Yoreh De’ah and at least some of the laws of Even HaEzer.

Knowledge of these laws is vital if one desires to know how to comport himself and not stumble, G‑d forbid, in many laws, such as the laws of Shabbos (as the Alter Rebbe writes in Iggeres HaKodesh8 ) and the like.

It is worth emphasizing that the official papers accompanied by a signature that verifies that one has received semichah is not that crucial; what is vital is one’s ability to obtain such a paper. Since he is capable of receiving it, then the paper itself is not of crucial import....

As to the unmarried young men in yeshivahit is indeed expected of them that they receive formal semichah, so as to verify that they fulfilled their obligation (of learning all the necessary laws).

(Toras MenachemHisvaaduyos, Vol. IV, pp. 259-261)

Receiving Ordination for the Knowledge
Not Because of Earning a Living

.. It is self-understood and very plain that your suggestion regarding concluding at least the first portion of Yoreh De’ah and receiving semichah is exceedingly correct and proper — it has nothing at all to do with earning a living.

It is also self-understood that this study should not be pushed off until after the wedding. Rather, begin as early as possible, and with the passing of some time you will be able to deduce when you will conclude your semichah studies.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIX, p. 200)

A Knowledge of the Laws, Knowledge of Chassidus
And General Halachic Knowledge

In practical terms — with regard to the young men who are going to be receiving semichah:

In addition to the requirement that first and foremost they know very well the laws (and not be satisfied merely with receiving the “semichah degree”), they must also know that the meaning of “semichah” is that the person who receives semichah becomes master over worldly affairs.

(Toras MenachemHisvaaduyos, Vol. VI, pp. 70)