The Tena’im

It Is Proper to Write the Tena’im On the Day of the Wedding

.. You write in your letter that you are planning to write the tena’im on the day of the wedding.

There is absolutely no room for doubt [that this may be done]; indeed, it is proper to do so.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VII, p. 19)

The Text of the Tena’im

In reply to your undated letter in which you write about the text of the tena’im that we use:

It is indeed true that it [the text of the tena’im that we use] is the text used by the Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek. I have a photograph of these tena’im and the Tzemach Tzedeksupplemented this text in his own holy handwriting.

In this tena’im, not all the line endings are equal; this is in addition to the fact that no mention is made with regard to a penalty (k’nas) and so on.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIII, p. 134)

Specifically Using the Chabad Text

At a tena’im celebration in the year 5703 attended by the Rebbe and the Rebbetzin, the Rebbe noticed that the text of the tena’im was not in accordance with the traditional text used within the households of the Rebbeim (Minhag Beis HaRav).

As such a tena’im was not present at the tena’im celebration, the Rebbe took a special taxi trip home and brought back the text of the tena’im.

(Introduction to Mekadeish Yisrael)

The tena’im are customarily read at the beginning of the kabbalas panim, after which an earthenware plate is broken [generally by the mothers of chassan and kallah].

(Minhag Anash)

Kabbalas Panim

Reciting the Maamar Lechah Dodi

As is well known, the souls of the forebears of the chassan and kallah — from as far back as three generations, and in certain instances, from even further back — come from the World of Truth and are present when a Jewish wedding is celebrated.

It is customary for the chassan (or, if this is not possible, one of the mechutanim) to recite the maamar Lechah Dodi 56891 at the reception (kabbalas panim) held in his honor before the chuppah.

(Sefer HaMinhagim, p. 75)

An Invitation to the Rebbeim

Surely, the Lechah Dodi maamar also contained the Rebbe [Rayatz]’s own Torah, although he did not state so explicitly. Although he seemingly had no need to invite himself, as he was in attendance, but this is the order of things: all matters come about through the conduit of Torah.

As we follow in the Rebbe’s path and listen to his directives and adhere to his manner of conduct, it follows that at all weddings of Anash or individuals who are mekushar [bound to the Rebbe] or are connected to him, the discourse of Lechah Dodi should be recited prior to the wedding. This should be done either by the chassan or [if it can’t be done by the chassan, then it should be done] by another.

.. Since this maamar contains sections from all the Rebbeim, it follows that reciting this maamar serves as an invitation to the souls of the Rebbeim. For tzaddikim are similar to their Creator. ... Just as G‑d inscribed His entire Essence within Torah, so, too, have tzaddikim inscribed themselves within their Chassidus.2

(Likkut Yud-Daled Kislev, pp. 116-117)3

Do Not Abbreviate or Recite Only Part of the Maamar

.. The custom of Anash during recent years to recite the maamar Lechah Dodi, printed in Derushei Chassunah [56]89, is very fitting. This [appropriateness] is based on the words of the Rebbe, my father-in-law, which he stated at that time (and which was printed in many copies of that kuntres), that this discourse incorporates teachings from each of the preceding Rebbeim, Raboseinu Nesi’einu, beginning with the Alter Rebbe.

As the Rebbe, my father-in-law, then stated: by delivering it [this discourse], he was inviting his holy forebears to participate in the wedding.

It is clearly understood from the above that there is absolutely no room for abbreviating the maamar or reciting but a part of it; particularly so, since it is not specified in the maamar which section is from this Nasi and which section is from the other Nasi. By abbreviating or reciting only a section, one does not know what one is cutting out — [but] what is clear is that the person is missing out.

With regard to those places where it is customary that one interrupts in middle of the maamar — it has already been stated that this custom should be abolished, for this custom is in opposition to the honor of the Torah, although some try to find some merit [in those who conduct themselves in this manner, explaining that they do so] in order not to embarrass a chassan who is incapable of delivering the entire discourse.

There already was a similar incident in Poland, [where it was the custom to interrupt,] and then the Rebbe, my father-in-law, directed that in those places where they specifically want to maintain this custom, the chassan should first deliver the entire discourse and afterward begin the maamar again, at which time they would interrupt him.

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

Lechah Dodi Should Be Recited Even When Reciting Another Discourse

.. With regard to delivering a Chassidic discourse at the wedding, in a good and auspicious hour:

In addition to the maamar that you mention in your letter, it would be proper for you to also recite the maamar Lechah Dodi, 5689 — in accordance with the Sichah of Shavuos 5713.4

I was surprised that you were unaware of this. ...

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VIII, p. 72)

If One Failed to Deliver the Entire Discourse,
He Should at Least Do So Within a Month

.. I was taken aback by that which you wrote that you recited but a section of the maamar Lechah Dodi.What do you mean by a “section”?

Particularly so, when, with regard to this maamar, it has been explained at length in a farbrengen of Shavuos in past years, that this maamar contains Torah from all our Rebbeim-Nesi’im. If one recites but a portion of the maamar, the one reciting does not know what is included and what is not included.

I am sending you this letter “Express, Special Delivery” so that at least within the month of your chuppah you deliver the maamar again, this time in its entirety.

You should publicize this and make this known to all who find themselves in a situation similar to yours, that at least from now on, the delivery of the discourse should be in the proper manner.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XV, p. 401)

Delivering the Entire Discourse Uninterrupted
Then Beginning Again and Interrupting

The Rebbe told his mazkir, Rabbi Binyomin Klein, that he should publicize the following: After the maamar is delivered once without interruption, the chassan begins the maamar again and then he is interrupted. This should be done, explained the Rebbe, as it is improper to nullify a custom [i.e., the custom of interrupting a chassan].

(Shidduchim V’Nisuin — Likkutei Horaois, Minhagim, U’Biurim, p. 139)

Incorporating Sections Of the Rebbe’s Lechah Dodi Maamar

In Elul 5714, a chassan wrote the following to the Rebbe in his yechidus note: Although the Rebbe will serve as his Mesader Kiddushin, nevertheless, it seems that the invitation to a Rebbe should be through his Torah. He therefore asks the Rebbe if he would please inform him what selection of the Rebbe’s maamarim he should recite as an invitation to the Rebbe.

The chassan received no reply to his request. However, on the Shabbos following the Yechidus,the Rebbe delivered the maamar Lechah Dodi.5

When the chassan appeared before the Rebbe on the day following his wedding, the Rebbe asked him how he conducted himself with regard to delivering the maamar at the kabbalas panim. The chassan related that he had incorporated three sections of the Rebbe’s Shabbos maamar of Lechah Dodi.

After inquiring of the chassan which three sections he had incorporated and receiving an answer, the Rebbe said: “You conducted yourself most appropriately (zei’er a gleiche zach); others should follow your example (u’mimenu yiru v’chein yasu).”6

A Chassan Should Not Serve Others

The Rebbe would not take anything to eat at a kabbalas panim; even if it were brought to him, he would refrain. Moreover, once, when a chassan wanted to pour the Rebbe something to drink, the Rebbe demurred, stating that a chassan is like a king and it does not befit a chassan’s honor to serve someone else during his wedding.

(Introduction to Mekadeish Yisrael)

The Badekenish and the Alter Rebbe’s Niggun

The Alter Rebbe’s Niggun is sung while the chassan is being led to the badekenish [or: badeken] (i.e., the veiling of the bride).

(Sefer HaMinhagim, p. 76)

The Chuppah

Donning a Kittel and Gartel

It is our custom for the bridegroom to wear a kittel under the chuppah.7 Accordingly, he does not wear one on the first Yom Kippur following his marriage, but starts the following year.

.. The chassan continues to wear it [the gartel] under the chuppah, and wears it at all prayers thereafter.

Before the chuppah, any knots in his clothes (such as in a tie or shoelaces) should be untied.

While the Kiddushin is being solemnized, his pockets should be empty of all money, silver or gold objects, precious stones and the like; nor should anything of this kind (such as a tiepin) be attached to his clothes; and certainly no such thing should be in or on his hands.

The Wedding Ring

The wedding ring should be of gold, and smooth, with absolutely nothing engraved on either the outer or inner surfaces.8

(Sefer HaMinhagim, p. 76)

A Wedding Ring of Gold

In reply to your question about the wedding ring:

It is the custom within the households of the Rebbeim (Minhag Beis HaRav) that the ring is of gold. So, too, have I observed this custom among Anash and chassidim.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. III, p. 429)

Round on the Inside and Outside

It is stated in Sefarim that the ring should be shaped like [two Hebrew letters,] a samach and a mem. For this reason the ring should be circular on the inside and square on the outside.

It is also written in books of Kabbalah that the ring should be made of silver.

However, our custom is for the ring to be circular (both on the inside and the outside) and made of gold.

(Toras MenachemHisvaaduyos, Vol. II, pp. 252-253)

Siddur Kiddushin Belongs to the Kallah’s Side

When a chassan once asked the Rebbe to perform the wedding ceremony, the Rebbe responded that Siddur Kiddushin [the individual who is given the honor of performing the wedding ceremony] belongs to the kallah’s side [and it is they who should ask him].

(From a Teshurah)

The Alter Rebbe’s Niggun

The Alter Rebbe’s Niggun is sung ... while chassan and kallah are led to the chuppah; [and thereafter during the seven circuits].

(Sefer HaMinhagim, p. 76)

The Unterfihrers — The Escorts

According to custom, the unterfihrers for both sides should be married couples.

If either parent has remarried, it is advisable that — in addition to the married couple who serve as unterfihrers — the remarried parent, together with his or her spouse, should also circle the chassan under the chuppah.

It is customary for the fathers of the chassan and kallah to escort the bridegroom to the chuppah, and for their mothers to escort the bride.

It is customary for all the unterfihrers, both the men and the women, to walk with the kallah around the chassan.

(Sefer HaMinhagim, pp. 75-76)

The Unterfihrers — A Married Couple

The reason for the unterfihrers in simple terms: Prior to the wedding, chassan and kallah were [physically] apart and distant from each other. It is difficult for them (for reasons of embarrassment, and so on) to suddenly change to a state of closeness at their wedding.

They therefore need the assistance of their unterfihrers, who are friends of the chassan and kallah. They are able to strengthen and encourage them, bringing about the closeness of chassan and kallah one to the other.

It is simple and self-understood that a married male is most appropriate to encourage the chassan, as he has already experienced marriage. So, too, a married woman is most appropriate to serve as unterfihrer for the kallah.

(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXII, p. 61)

When One of the Mothers Is Expecting

In many communities it is the Jewish custom that a pregnant woman does not serve as an unterfihrer. I was never able to ascertain what the Chabad custom is regarding the above.

It is, of course, very painful for the pregnant mother not to serve as an unterfihrer at the wedding of her son and daughter (— it also arouses surprise and puzzlement [that a mother should not serve as an unterfihrer at the wedding of her son and daughter]).

All this is resolved when the mother (together with her husband) circles and escorts the chassan and kallah in concert with another married couple.

In heaven it is known and revealed which couple is the one that has served as the true unterfihrers [for the side of the kallah].

(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXII, p. 58)

When the Kallah’s Mother Has Remarried
And Her Current Husband Is Not the Kallah’s Father

Regarding who should serve as unterfihrers on the kallah’s side:

If there are no special customs in your families, then it would be appropriate that in addition to a married couple serving as unterfihrers on behalf of the kallah, the kallah’s mother and her husband should circle the chassan as well.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIX, p. 199)

When There Is Difficulty Establishing Who Should Serve as Unterfihrers

.. With regard to the difficulty concerning who should be the unterfihrers who escort the chassan and the kallah to the chuppah:

This should be done according to the agreement of both sides. It would be best that neither chassan nor kallah mix into this matter at all.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIX, p. 412)

Under the Stars

A Chuppah Under the Stars

.. With regard to that which you write about having the chuppah under the heavens:

Since this custom is cited in many places and there are many reasons for it, I strongly hope that all will agree to do so, which is to say, that the chuppah will take place under the stars.

Even when the wedding takes place in a hall that has no opening in the roof, the chuppah can be outside and close to the hall.

May you be blessed “like the stars in the heavens,” (which is also one of the reasons for having the chuppah under the stars).

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIX, p. 413)

A Chuppah in a Hall With a Hole in the Roof
Is Considered Under the Stars

Thank you for your article about opposition to compromises .... However, your inclusion therein of a chuppah that takes place in a hall which has an opening in the roof requires to be understood, inasmuch as this is not a compromise, but rather fulfills the requirement [of having a chuppah under the heavens] in its totality.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XII, p. 117)

Eirusin and Nesu’in — Betrothal and Marriage
And Why We Use a Ring

During present times it is the custom that the marriage — the nesu’in — takes place at the time of the chuppah. That is to say, there is no interval between the Kiddushin (eirusin) and the nesu’in — the couple is immediately married.

This is accomplished when the object that the chassan gives the kallah becomes completely hers, with absolutely no vestige of ownership remaining with the chassan. If that does not happen, then it is not a proper Kiddushin.

This is also to be seen from the Alter Rebbe’s Siddur where the title is “Birchas Eirusin VeNesu’in,” “Betrothal and Marriage Ceremony Blessings,” for the nesu’in is in extremely close proximity to the eirusin, without anything else intervening (except for the reading of the kesuvah and the blessing over the wine).

.. This is why Kiddushin is accomplished with a ring (“with a vessel similar to a garment”) wherein the transfer of ownership from chassan to kallah is absolute and complete....

This also explains why the chassan places the ring on the kallah’s finger (during or immediately after his statement of “Harei at...”), rather than the kallah merely receiving the ring in her hand:

Since Kiddushin is “with a vessel similar to a garment” ... and Kiddushin with a vessel does not come about until the kallah makes use of the vessel, therefore the ring has to be placed on the kallah’s finger — through the kallah’s use of the ring, the chassan acquires the kallah, and she thereby becomes consecrated to him.

(Yein Malchus, Vol. I, pp. 195-196)

Under the Chuppah

The Rebbe’s Letter

Immediately after the recitalof the “Boruch Haba,” the Rebbe’s letter of blessing to chassan and kallah is read.

(Minhag Anash)

Free Translation

To the young man, who is accomplished and a chossid, a man who fears G‑d, pleasant and gracious, _______, and his bride, may you be well

Greetings and Blessings,

In response to the notification that the date of your wedding has been set for the __________:

I would like to convey my blessings, Mazel Tov, Mazel Tov. May your wedding be held in a good and auspicious hour and may you build a Jewish home, an eternal structure, on the foundations of the Torah and its mitzvos as they are illuminated by “the light of Torah,” namely, the teachings of Chassidus.

With blessings of Mazel Tov, Mazel Tov,

/The Rebbe’s signature/

Thinking of the Rebbe

On various occasions the Rebbe told chassanim to: a) picture the Rebbe [Rayatz] while under the chuppah; b) have a picture of the Rebbe on their person during the chuppah; c) picture their Rebbe while under the chuppah.

(From various Teshuros)

A Propitious Time

There was an extremely common saying among Polish chassidim, that the time during which a chassan stands under the chuppah is a most propitious time to be granted from Above the fulfillment of his heart’s desires.

We may base this saying on repeated expressions of our Sages [regarding a chassan and marriage], among them, that a chassan has all his sins forgiven on his wedding day [and therefore is worthy of all blessings]; that a chassan is likened [on his wedding day] to a king [who has all his requests fulfilled].

Primarily [his requests are then granted,] for at the time of the chuppah the chassan is compared to “Your created being in the Garden of Eden of old.” At that time — prior to the sin of the Tree of Knowledge” — the world was in a most complete state [where nothing was lacking; i.e., all requests were granted].

([This explains why this is particularly so as the chassan stands under the chuppah] while with regard to the other explanations offered above, it is not necessarily germane specifically to the time of standing under the chuppah.)

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVIII, p. 56)

Accept Upon Yourself the Heavenly Yoke

The Rebbe Rashab stated that while standing under the chuppah one should accept upon oneself ol malchus Shomayim, the Heavenly yoke. Doing so will have a beneficial spiritual effect [not only for oneself, but also] for children and grandchildren. [According to another version, or possibly stated at a different time: it will have an effect for seventy years.]

Rabbi Shlomo Zarchi relates in his grandfather’s name, that the Rebbe Rashab said to him: “When one takes kabbalas ol upon himself under the chuppah, this can draw down for fifty years children and grandchildren who are Chassidim, Temimim and Yirei Shomayim.9

(Oral Traditions)

The Rebbe’s Attendance at a Wedding

Once, the Rebbe told a certain chassidthat he would be unable to fulfill a request of his, since that evening a wedding was to take place.

When the chassid asked the Rebbe, “But the Rebbe is not Mesader Kiddushin anymore...” the Rebbe responded:

“To the contrary — because I don’t go in a physical sense, I am even busier with the wedding in a spiritual sense.”

(Introduction to Mekadeish Yisrael)

Placing the Ring on the Finger

The chassan begins placing the ring on the kallah’s finger when he pronounces the words Harei at. When he reaches the last word — VeYisrael — he places it firmly on the finger [as far as the ring will go]and removes his hand. By doing so, the ring leaves his possession and it becomes hers.

(Likkut Yud-Daled Kislev, p. 116)10

The Rebbe’s Siddur Kiddushin

When the Rebbe would be Mesader Kiddushin, after the cup was filled with wine, he would turn to face east and silently say Savri Maranan, before proceeding with the blessings.

(Introduction to Mekadeish Yisrael)

The Seven Blessings11

In the blessing beginning “Samach tesamach” in the Seven Blessings (in the Sheva Berachos), it appears to be certain that both syllables of the first word should be vocalized with a patach.12

(Sefer HaMinhagim, p. 76)

Breaking of the Glass by the Chassan

After the chassan and kallah have each drunk a little from the glass of wine over which the Seven Blessings have been recited, it is given to someone else to finish. It is this glass that the chassan then breaks with his right foot.

(Sefer HaMinhagim, p. 76)


After the chuppah, a silver spoon is placed on the threshold of the yichud room. The chassan steps over it as he enters, followed by the kallah.

(Sefer HaMinhagim, p. 76)