What About Ma’ariv?
‘The Bridegroom Is Exempt From Kerias Shema’
A mishnah on our daf states that a chassan who marries a besulah is exempt from the mitzvah of reciting kerias shema on the night of his wedding. This is because of the rule (Sukkah 25a): “osek b’mitzvah patur min ha’mitzvah – one who is presently occupied with one mitzvah is exempt from performing another mitzvah.” In this instance, the chassan is preoccupied with consummating the marriage.
The mishnah adds that if the chassan did not consummate the marriage on the night of the wedding, he is exempt from shema for the following three nights since his mind is still pre-occupied with the mitzvah at hand. The mishnah relates that Rabban Gamliel, however, did recite kerias shema when he was a chassan. When his students asked him about it, he explained, “I cannot possibly abrogate my obligation to accept Heaven’s kingship even for one moment.”
A second mishnah on our daf (16b) qualifies the rule of the previous mishnah, and seems to be in general agreement with Rabban Gamliel’s behavior. Indeed, it states that if a chassan so chooses, he may recite kerias shema.
Interesting, then, is the statement of his son, Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel, that not everyone has the right to display such piety and therefore a chassan should not recite kerias shema on his wedding night. At the conclusion of our perek, Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel’s view is explained. Only one who is highly pious, a Torah scholar of note, may recite kerias shema on his wedding night. A Torah scholar of ordinary stature, however, may not. Thus, there is no inconsistency between Rabbi Shimon b. Gamliel’s view and that of his father cited in the earlier mishnah.
Kavanah, The Lack Of
The Mechaber (Orach Chayim 70:3), essentially quoting Tosafos (17b, sv “R. Shisha …”), rules that a chassan today should recite kerias shema since most people lack proper kavanah when they daven. In other words, a chassan’s kerias shema on the night of his wedding may lack kavanah but so do the kerias shemas he says throughout the year. If an ordinary chassan doesn’t say kerias shema on his wedding night, he appears haughty since he’s implying that if not for his preoccupied mind, his kerias shema would contain the proper level of kavanah.
Hand In Hand
What is the rule regarding davening Ma’ariv? It would seem that the same rules that apply to kerias shema should apply to Ma’ariv. Yet, we find that they don’t necessarily go hand in hand. The Shulchan Aruch Harav (Orach Chayim 70sk3) writes that a chassan is exempt from kerias shema and Ma’ariv, but when he discusses the minhag nowadays, he writes that a chassan should recite kerias shema and makes no mention of Ma’ariv. It thus seem that a chassan is exempt from Ma’ariv even nowadays. The reason for this is because, as the Shulchan Aruch Harav writes, kerias shema is a biblical obligation whereas Ma’ariv is only rabbinical.
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