A Fast Day — An Entirely Spiritual Day

There is a ruling in Hilchos Talmud Torah, that every person is obligated to study Torah in accordance with the amount of time that is at his disposal.

He who is not too occupied in earning a living is obligated to study more — whenever he has a spare moment, while the individual whose sustenance is granted from Above without his having to work at all is obliged to learn Torah constantly, as the verse states: “They [i.e., words of Torah] shall not depart from you, neither by day nor by night.”

A chassan is likened to a king and is prohibited from performing labor. Thus, a chassan receives his sustenance from Above without having to work.

This is a clear indication that even a businessperson, who is always occupied in earning a living and has no [excess amount of] time for Torah study because of this preoccupation, should conduct himself very differently nevertheless during the time preceding his marriage and after his marriage — during the Shivas Yemei HaMishteh (Seven Days of Festivity).

Since he may not work during this time, he therefore has the obligation to devote himself to Torah and spiritual service throughout the entire day.

This manner of [proper] conduct stands in direct opposition to the current [unfortunate] manner of conduct, whereby even he who [regularly] studies Torah the entire day [such as a yeshivah bochur], ceases to do so when it comes time to get married, devoting himself to trivial and entirely inconsequential preparations to his wedding.

Leaving the obligation of Torah study aside, since the time immediately preceding and following one’s wedding establishes the foundation for one’s entire life, it follows that the more effort one makes in laying a firm [spiritual] foundation, the more he will subsequently be able to benefit from the edifice.

Accordingly, the more the person will devote himself during these days to Torah and spiritual service, the more he will derive from the edifice of marriage — not only in a spiritual sense, but in a physical sense as well.

If this is so regarding the days prior to and following one’s marriage, how much more so is this true with regard to one’s wedding day.

“All the sins of a chassan are forgiven on the day of his marriage.” This is one of the reasons chassan and kallah fast on their marriage day,1 for to them this day is analogous to Yom Kippur.

Surely, then, on a day of such great magnitude, they should not devote themselves to extraneous matters.

(Likkut Yud-Daled Kislev, pp. 126-127)2

Until When Need One Fast on the Wedding Day

If the chuppah is held before sunset, there is no need for the chassan and kallahto continue fasting until evening.

(Sefer HaMinhagim, p. 75)

When the Wedding Is on Rosh Chodesh

.. Both the directive of fasting on the day of the chuppah as well as the directive that [when the wedding is] on Rosh Chodesh one may not fast — rather, the person should fast on the day preceding Rosh Chodesh and it is [then] categorically considered as if he fasted on his wedding day — were issued from the same Divine Shepherd, and they, [i.e., both fast days, on the wedding date or on the day preceding it,] are entirely alike....

(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXIV, p. 464)

When the Wedding Is on Purim Katan

The Rebbe told a chassan and kallah who were married on Purim Katan 5711, that they were to fast on that day.

(Toras MenachemHisvaaduyos, Vol. II, p. 252)

Fasting on the Wedding Day — Who Fasts and Why

[In addition to the chassan and kallah], the Rebbe Rayatz fasted on the days of his daughters’ weddings.

(Sefer HaMinhagim, p. 75)

The Rebbe, my father-in-law, also fasted on the days of his daughters’ weddings.

There are two [primary] reasons a chassan fasts on his wedding day: a) for atonement, as mentioned above; b) because one is to marry in a clearheaded and lucid state (b’dei’ah tzelulah).

Both these reasons are not applicable to the parents [of chassan or kallah], for the atonement and forgiveness is only for chassan and kallah, and so, too, getting married in a clearheaded and lucid state does not apply to the parents.

It can also not be posited that the reason [he fasted] was for [“spiritual] assistance,” for such assistance to his children can be rendered through other means, such as through Torah, prayer, tzedakah and the like.

We can also not say that the reason the Rebbe fasted was that he was Mesader Kiddushin (i.e., that he performed the wedding) and one must conduct the wedding ceremony b’dei’ah tzelulah, for if this were the case, then this applies not only to the marriage of his daughters, but to anyone performing a marriage: they, too, should be obligated to fast.

There is, however, yet another reason for fasting. It is that “There is no [writing of a] kesuvah [with its various conditions and stipulations, etc.,] that is entirely devoid of strife.”3 This, then, is the reason for the fast — to remove the strife.

The reason [for the inevitability of strife] is: Since marriage draws down the infinite Ein Sof within creation, therefore the Satan, [not wanting such a great and exalted matter to come about,] opposes this and causes strife. Removal of this strife is accomplished through fasting. This reason [for fasting] applies to the parents as well.

There are probably going to be those who will construe these words to mean that I desire that the parents of chassan and kallah fast on the day of their child’s wedding. I therefore emphatically declare that this is not my intention; I am only explaining the reason why the Rebbe conducted himself in this manner.

The Rebbe was a neshamah klalis (a general and all-encompassing soul who conducted himself with many hiddurim (strictures and adornments with regard to the performance of mitzvos). This [aspect of fasting on the wedding day of one’s child] is not a matter that needs to be emulated.

If one desires to imitate the conduct of the Rebbe, then better first to replicate other aspects of his spiritual service and his hiddurim in all other aspects of Torah and mitzvos. Do not begin by fasting. If one desires, one can give tzedakah in place of the fast.

(Likkut Yud-Daled Kislev, pp. 127-128)4

The Day of the Chuppah

The day of one’s chuppah is similar to Yom Kippur — “a day of forgiveness for all ... the final opportunity for teshuvah....5

This day is associated — above all for chassan and kallah, but also for their parents — with increased study of Torah, avodah, gemilus chassadim, teshuvah and geulah.

(Simchas Olam, p. 67)6

“Increased Tears”

In one of the letters written by the Rebbe’s father to the Rebbe in conjunction with the Rebbe’s wedding, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak, of blessed memory, writes the following regarding one’s spiritual service on the wedding day:

Whoever increases and intensifies his tears [of teshuvah] during this fast day, a day that is likened to Yom Kippur, is to be praised.

(Likkutei Levi Yitzchak, Likkutim-Igros, p. 207)

Immersion in Mikvah With Exceptional Intention

The Rebbe’s father also mentions in the above letter that the immersion of a chassan in the mikveh on the day of his wedding is particularly meaningful and should be done with particular kavanah, as immersion in a mikveh has a singular connection to a chassan.

Recitation of Tehillim

Recitation of Tehillim by the Kallah

My revered father-in-law, the Rebbe [Rayatz], instructed the bride to read specific Psalms on the wedding day. I do not know the particular Psalms he instructed to be read.

It is therefore advisable for a bride to read (if at all possible) the entire Book of Tehillim, which of course will include these specific Psalms as well.

(Sefer HaMinhagim, p. 75)

In response to your request for instructions regarding spiritual preparations for your kallah:

I have not heard any specific instructions [regarding this matter, and therefore cannot definitively answer your question]. However, I do know that very many chapters of Tehillim are recited, though I am not sure which ones. Therefore, when I am asked about this, I instruct the kallah to recite the entire [Book of] Tehillim on the day of her wedding.

Understandably, all the above is in addition to knowledge of the marriage laws that relate to and are dependent upon the kallah. A thorough knowledge of these laws is understandably of greatest import, as “deed is above all else,” as the Zohar states.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. V, p. 87)

Recitation of Tehillim by the Chassan

Rabbi Leibel Groner relates that the Rebbe told him that on his wedding day he was to utilize each and every moment for the recitation of Tehillim. If he concluded it once, he should recite it again. [And] if he concluded it a second time, he should recite it yet again (noch a mol, un noch a mol).

Recitation of Tehillim by the Parents Of Chassan and Kallah

The parents of chassan and kallah should — bli neder — try to say [at least] a chapter of Tehillim for the zechus of chassan and kallah.

(Hisvaaduyos 5747, Vol. I, p. 419)

Tzedakah on the Wedding Day

Distribution of Tzedakah By Chassan and Kallah

It is a Jewish custom for chassan and kallah to give an increased amount of (their own) money to tzedakah on their wedding day. The additional amount should be the majority of that day’s tzedakah.

The tzedakah should be given either by placing the money in a tzedakah pushkeh or giving it to a tzedakah institution via the institution’s gabbai tzedakah (the institution’s treasurer and the like).

It is best for chassan and kallah to give the tzedakah first thing in the morning. Doing so enhances and augments the spiritual preparations to the wedding, that these preparations be crowned with success.

It also confers hatzlachah to the wedding itself as well as throughout the entire Shivas Yemei HaMishteh (“Seven Days of Festivity”). In fact, acting in this manner will grant them hatzlachah throughout their entire lives, that they merit to have a truly happy life together, both spiritually as well as materially.

If chassan and kallah are unable to give the tzedakah first thing in the morning, they should endeavor to give the money during the morning hours. At the very least, they should give the tzedakah prior to the chuppah

The earlier they give, the better.

If, for whatever reason, they failed to give tzedakah on their wedding day, they should do so afterwards — as soon as they remember.

(Simchas Olam, pp. 69-70; Kovetz Binyan Adei Ad, pp. 22-23)7

Tzedakah of Chassan and Kallah in Particular
Hastens the Redemption

In light of the saying of our Sages, “Great is tzedakah, for it hastens the Redemption,”8 there is a special quality to the tzedakah given by chassan and kallah — “king and queen”9 — to hasten and bring about the imminent true and complete Redemption.

(Hisvaaduyos 5744, Vol. IV, p. 2243)

Distribution of Tzedakah by Others In Honor of Chassan and Kallah

Parents, grandparents, siblings, and all relatives and friends who desire the welfare of chassan and kallah and who want to participate in the joy of chassan and kallah, should increase the amount they give to tzedakah on the day of the wedding.

This applies as well to the teachers and shadchanim of chassan and kallah.

Their gift should be in honor of and accompanied by prayerful wishes for the eternal well-being of chassan and kallah, that the mitzvah and merit of tzedakah stand them in good stead and that their joy be unbounded and everlasting.

(Simchas Olam, pp. 71-73)10

Minchah With “Al Chet

.. Understandably, all the above [manners of conduct] are in addition to the other customs that have been accepted among Jews everywhere, such as reciting the Minchah prayer with the addition of Al Chet, etc.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. V, p. 87)

Minchah in a Gartel

Before the chuppah, the chassan wears a gartel for the Minchah prayer during which he recites the Al Chet. He continues to wear it under the chuppah, and wears it at all prayers thereafter.

(Sefer HaMinhagim, p. 75)

The Rebbe’s Siddur

It is customary for the chassan to pray the special Minchah prayer — the prayer during which the chassan recites the Al Chet — from the Rebbe’s Siddur.

If the chassan is away from New York on his wedding day, he receives the Siddur earlier, and if he so desires — providing that it is a day in which Tachanun is recited — he may recite the Al Chet during the Minchah in which he prays with the Rebbe’s Siddur. (This is, of course, in addition to the recitation of Al Chet during the Minchah prayer on the day of his wedding).

At the same time that the Rebbe would lend his Siddur to the chassan, he would customarily bless him that “Your prayers should succeed in obtaining all manners of good” (“Zolst oisbetten aleh guteh zachin”).

There were times that when the Rebbe gave the Siddur he would say, “May it be in a good and auspicious hour.”

(Minhag Anash)

Writing the Kesuvah

Optimally, the kesuvah is written during the day, not close to the time of the chuppah but earlier in the day. The writing, signing, and acceptance of obligation (kabbalas kinyan) [on those matters that the chassan obliges himself in the kesuvah] are all done during the day.

At the time of the chuppah, there is merely the transfer of the kesuvah [from the domain of the chassan to the domain of the kallah].

This manner of conduct is also in accordance with Nigleh, for according to Jewish law, the obligation of the kesuvah can also exist many days prior to the wedding.

(Sichos Kodesh 5714, p. 113)