13 Jun MAZEL TOV!
We are Boruch Hashem zocheh to be marrying off our son next week so I felt it was apropos to discuss the inyan of the brocha of Eirusin.
The Rosh in Meseches Kesubos, daf zayin, amud bais questions the nusach of the brocha that we say under the chuppah. Part of the nusach is “Sheasar es Ho’Arusos Ve’hitir lonu es Ha’nesuos.” (Hashem forbade us to live with a married woman, but allowed us to live with the woman we marry.) There is no other place where we find a brocha telling us that something is forbidden. For example, we don’t say that Hashem did not allow us to eat killed animals, he only allowed us to eat animals that were ritually slaughtered. An additional point to mention about the wording is that we mention chuppa in the brocha. In the olden days it was customary to have a gap of a year between the kiddushin and the chuppa. What really needs an explanation is why don’t we sign off the brocha by saying that Hashem commanded us to be mekadesh an isha? The Rosh, based on the above observations, says that the mitzvah is not to be mekadesh an isha; the mitzvah is pirya ve’rivya – having children. The kiddushin is just a preparation for the main mitzvah. The Rosh says that this bracha is a birkas hashevach, praising Hashem for differentiating Bnei Yisroel from the rest of the nations, specifically in this area. Bnei Yisroel have laws of hetter and issur and therefore the lashon of issur and hetter applies to this birchas hashevach.
The Rambam seems to argue with this and says that really the birkas eirusin should be said by the chosson or his shaliach. From this fact it is understood that the Rambam is of the opinion that the maaseh kiddushin is a mitzvah and therefore the baal hamaaseh, the chosson or his shaliach, should be the one to make the brocha. Reb Shmuel Ruzovski discusses this in the second perek in Kiddushin when explaining the machlokes of the Rambam and the Rosh whether Kiddushin is a mitzvah in it of itself or just a preparatory mitzvah for pirye vr’rivya.
The Avi Ezri says that one should tell the kallah not to answer amein on the brocha of eirusin since the Rambam holds that the brocha is only for the chosson and if the kallah answers amein it will be a hefsek between the Borei Pri Hagofen and her drinking the wine.
Most people do not tell the kallah “not to answer amein.” We can try to explain this in a few ways. The first one concerns a woman saying shehecheyanu on Yom Tov when she lights candles. If she says shechecheyanu then when her husband make Kiddush and is motzi her, she should not answer amein to the shehechayanu since it will cause a hefsek between the Borei Pri Hagafen and her drinking. Reb Moshe Feinstein and Reb Shlomo Zalman Auerbach both say that even if she did answer amein she need not make a new borei pri hagafen since the one who is being motzi her needs the brocha; therefore it is not a hefsek. Perhaps we can say that the amein here on the eirusin is not a hefsek either. One may argue and say that she is being yotze regarding Kiddush, but according to the Rambam she is not being yotze the brocha of eirusin. Reb Shlomo Zalman says that the same rule would apply if a person makes a brocha on a fruit that requires a shehechyanu and he is being motzi his friend who does not need the shehechyanu to be said. The friend may answer amein to the shehechyanu despite the fact that he does not need to be yotzeh on Shehechyanu. Since the Kallah needs to be yotzei the borei pri hagafen, we can compare these two cases.
The second way to explain it is that even though the Rambam says that the maaseh kiddushin is a mitzvah for the chosson, and the bracha only applies to the chosson, he will agree to the fact that the kallah is very much a part of the mitzvah since without her the chosson is unable to do the mitzvah. It therefore stands to reason that the kallah is part of the brocha, even according to the Rambam.
The third explanation could be that to reconcile the questions that the Rosh mentions on the brocha of eirusin with the position of the Rambam, it must be that the Rambam will maintain that this is a hybrid bracha, similar to the brochos of Shabbos Shemone Esrei. It is a birchas ha’mitzvos for the chosson, and for the kallah and the people assembled there it is a birchas hashevach. Therefore the kallah may answer amein.
May we all be zoche to share simchos with one another.