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A Joy And A Blessing
“Rejoicing All Seven Days…”
(Kesubos 4b)



Our daf teaches that when a man marries a maiden, it is a mitzvah for him to rejoice with her for seven days. During this week of rejoicing, the newlyweds are not allowed to work and festive meals are prepared in their honor.

In the beginning of tractate Kallah we are taught that it is an absolute requirement that a bride be blessed and that is, minimally, at the nissu’in [chuppah], where seven blessings are recited. These blessings are referred to as Birkat Chassanim or Sheva Berachos.

Further on (7b) the Gemara teaches that commensurate with the seven days of rejoicing is the requirement that Sheva Berachos be recited as well during the entire week of rejoicing, but with one proviso: that a panim chadashos – a new guest [or new guests] is present.


A New Guest

Rambam (Hilchos Berachos 2:10) explains that anyone who did not hear the recital of the Sheva Berachos at the chuppah qualifies as panim chadashos [even if he participated in the wedding feast].

The Rosh (Kesubos, siman 13), however, maintains that panim chadashos refers to new guests who have not participated in the wedding feast or in any of the previous Sheva Berachos meals [regardless of whether they listened to the recital of Sheva Berachos at the chuppah]. Moreover, the Rosh explains that panim chadashos refers to meaningful guests who add cheer to the meal. [Alternatively, some say the guests must be of enough significance for the host to prepare extra food on their behalf.] The presence of such a guest adds joy to the meal and necessitates the recital of Sheva Berachos. However, if a stranger happened to wander in, he would not qualify as panim chadashos.

The commentators (Aruch HaShulchan, Even HaEzer 62:24-26; Kehillos Yaakov, Kesubos 76, ad loc.) explain that Rambam and the Rosh fundamentally disagree as to the reason the presence of panim chadashos necessitates the recital of Sheva Berachos.


Joy or Mitzvah?

The Rosh considers the presence of panim chadashos as enhancing the joy of the chassan and the kallah and their other guests, and as a result it is fitting to recite Sheva Berachos. To achieve this enhanced simcha, the new guest must be a meaningful guest, namely, one who has not yet participated in any of the previous meals.

Rambam, on the other hand, is of the opinion that during the week of Sheva Berachos any person who has not had a chance to fulfill the mitzvah of reciting [or listening to] Sheva Berachos in honor of the chassan must do so when feasible. According to Rambam, therefore, a new guest warrants the recital of Sheva Berachos regardless of whether he enhances the simcha.


The Sabbath and Panim Chadashos

Tosafos (s.v. ve’hu), the Rosh, and many other Rishonim maintain that Sheva Berachos are recited on the Sabbath even if there are no new guests present at the meal – because the Sabbath itself is considered a new guest. Rambam, however, mentions no such halacha.

The commentators point out that the positions of the Rosh and Rambam regarding the Sabbath are consistent with their respective opinions cited above as to the purpose of panim chadashos. The Rosh is of the opinion that Sheva Berachos are recited during the Sabbath meals even if there is no new guest present because the role of the panim chadashos is to enhance the feast, and the Sabbath meals are sufficiently festive without the presence of new guests.


No Waiver

On the other hand, Rambam is of the opinion that even on the Sabbath, Sheva Berachos cannot be recited unless someone who has not yet performed the mitzvah of reciting [or listening to] Sheva Berachos is present. Regardless of the delight of the Sabbath meals, there is no obligation to recite Sheva Berachos unless someone who has not yet fulfilled his obligation is present.


Present-Day Custom

The Mechaber (Even HaEzer 62:8) cites the view – which has become our present custom – that for the evening Sabbath meal and the morning meal we need no panim chadashos, as Tosafos rule, but for the seudah shelishis – the third meal – we require new guests.

Rema, the decisor for Minhag Ashkenaz, differs and rules (in his glosses ad loc.) that even for the third Sabbath meal there is no need for new guests. One of the reasons he offers is that derashos – Torah homilies and/or Talmudical expositions – are usually delivered, and these constitute panim chadashos.


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Rabbi Yaakov Klass is Rav of K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush; Torah Editor of The Jewish Press; and Presidium Chairman, Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim.