An American couple got married in Israel and recited sheva berakhot for seven days as is customary. May they then recite sheva berakhot again in America six months later for the benefit of their families and friends who could not attend the wedding?
We understand the couple’s sincere desire to involve their loved ones in their joy, but the proposed practice is nonetheless forbidden. We learn in Ketubot 7b that we recite sheva berakhot “throughout the seven days”. While R. Elyakim Halevi (Ashkenaz, ca. 1100) may have allowed one to recite sheva berakhot after the seven days of rejoicing, it is clear that almost all authorities followed Rabbi Joseph ibn Migash (Spain, 11th century) who ruled that one only recites sheva berakhot “within seven days of the huppah”. Later authorities went even one step further and ruled that if a meal begins on the seventh day and lasts into the eighth night, one does not recite sheva berakhot.
Nevertheless, even though the couple may not recite sheva berakhot when they return home, there is a halakhic way to express their joy within the first year. We have learned in Ketubot 8a that one can recite “shehasimhah bim’ono” in the zimmun for twelve full months after the wedding providing that the guests were invited because of the wedding. The Geonim, the Rif and Maimonides followed this ruling. The Ra’avad and the Semag, on the other hand, ruled that “today we don’t recite ‘shehasimhah’ after the seven days, until the Messiah will come and we shall come to Zion in gladness”. But in light of the miracle of the birth of the State of Israel and since “we have come to Zion in gladness”, we can return to the simple talmudic law of reciting “shehasimhah” for twelve full months providing the guests were invited because of the wedding.
Therefore, it is fitting for the couple to invite their families and friends to a “seudat mitzvah” at which a derashah will be given in connection with their marriage and at which “shehasimhah bim’ono” will be recited during birkat hamazon.
Rabbi David Golinkin