This article is dedicated to the ninth grade class of TAG High School who assisted tremendously in arranging a local wedding. Special kudos to AK and HS, who were invaluable in running the kitchen. Tizku l’Mitzvos!
There is nothing like the joyous celebration of a wedding. And there are few things so disturbing as someone texting when they shouldn’t be doing so. The new world of smartphones, mobile email accessibility, and 24/6 texting is a world of mixed blessing. On the one hand productivity is definitely up, but the technology has entered into areas and venues where they should not be allowed.
In this article we will explore one such area: Can a lawyer Chosson just answer one teensy question about a client? Can the kallah graphic artist just tell us where the file is located? Can she log-on remotely and find it? Can they even be communicating via text?
Before we examine this question, some background information may be in order.
The Mitzvah to rejoice and be happy is actually one that is quantified in Shulchan Aruch and should last for seven days (See SA EH 64:1). The Mitzvah to rejoice and be happy on the wedding day itself is actually biblical (See Rosh Kesuvos 1:5). The Mitzvah for the rest of the seven days was an enactment of Moshe Rabbeinu, but it is still considered a Rabbinic enactment.
So what exactly is the nature of the obligation to rejoice? The aforementioned Shulchan Aruch explains that the groom must eat, drink, and generally be happy with his new bride. Rav Yoseph Engel in his Gilyol HaShas (Kesuvos 8b) explains that the obligation is even more encompassing. It seems that he is also obligating in making himself happy – no different than on any other Yom Tov.
And, of course, there is the obligation mentioned in the same paragraph in Shulchan Aruch for EVERYONE ELSE to gladden the hearts of the bride and groom for all seven days. The Yalkut Shimoni (Shoftim 70) indicates that the obligation is also to praise the groom during these days. This is also found in the Pirkei DeRebbi Eliezer (end of Chapter 17). Rabbi Dovid Luria adds that the obligation to praise the groom is even less than the obligation to praise the bride.
Up until now we have been discussing the obligation of rejoicing. In regard to this obligation, the bride may, give permission to forgo this obligation, according to the Ramah (64:2). The reason for this is that the sages made this enactment for the benefit of the bride and she may wish to let it slide. The Beis Shmuel. On the other hand, states that not all authorities agree with this position.
Now we will discuss a different issue, the prohibition of working.
A groom during this period is likened to a king. The groom is, therefore, forbidden in working. This prohibition is first mentioned in the Tosefta (Ksuvos chapter 1) and codified in the Shulchan Aruch (Ramah 64:1) and Rambam. The Ramah’s wording is based upon the writings of the Ran (Ksuvos 5a).
So, clearly, we have what seems to be a full-fledged prohibition in allowing the technology to enter the week of Sheva Brachos.
What if the bride gives him permission to work? Does the Ramah allow this just as he may have allowed the bride to forego the obligation to make her happy?
The answer to this question may be dependent upon a debate in the Acharonim. The Chelkas Mechokek (64:2) as well as the Beis Shmuel (64:3) write that since the source of the prohibition is based upon Chazal comparing the groom to a king, it would not be dependent upon the bride or not. That being the case, should would not be able to give him permission or let it slide. The Aruch HaShulchan (64:5) understands the issue the same way. On the other hand, it could very well be that Rav Yoseph Karo, the author of the Shulchan Aruch himself, does not share the view of the Ramah that the bride may not allow the groom to forego the prohibition. Thus the issue may be a debate between Sefardim and Ashkenazim. While it may be permitted according to Sephardic halacha, it certainly is not something that is recommended.
(There may be another caveat at play here as well. Even if the bride gives permission and both the bride and groom would follow the view of Rav Karo, Ashkenaizm who follow the view of the Ramah may not be allowed to text him because we are obligated in viewing him as a king too!)
But what if the work he is doing is not being done publically? The responsa work Dovaiv Meisharim (Vol. III #47) forbids it nonetheless. This is also the view of the Maharsham (Vol. III #206) as well as Rav Ovadiah Yoseph (See Yabia Omer Vol. IV #8).
What if our groom has run out of clothing? May he do laundry? May he iron his shirt? Rav Ovadiah (ibid) writes that ideally he should get someone else to do his laundry. If this option is unavailable, then he may do so himself. As far as ironing goes, the Tur Shulchan Aruch in Yoreh Deah (242) indicates that he may iron. However, it is possible that the Tur is referring to someone else ironing on the groom’s behalf.
The conclusion? A bride and groom hold a very special place in halacha. The obligation to make them happy is a serious one. As we examine the underlying halachos involved we can now well understand the words of the Gemorah that whomsoever who brings joy to a bride and groom it is as if he has rebuilt one of the destroyed houses of Jerusalem.
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