Tuesday, October 27, 2020

birchas eirusin

The Rambam and Rosh (first perek in Kesubos #12) disagree whether birchas eirusin is a birchas hamitzvah or not.  Rosh writes that there is no mitzvah of kiddushin; the mitzvah is to have children, pirya v'rivya.  One can fulfill that mitzvah with a pilegesh, without any need to get married; therefore, birchas ha'eirusin must be a birchas ha'shevach.  This is why, says the Rosh, the nusach ha'bracha is not the standard formula of "asher kidishanu b'mitzvosav..." etc. and this is why the bracha is recited only after the eirusin is done, not over l'asiyasan, beforehand.

The Rambam, l'shitaso, holds 1) kiddushin is an independent mitzvah; 2) in Hil Melachim 4:4 he writes that only a king can have a pilegesh; 3) in Ishus 3:23 he writes that birchas eirusin is said over l'asiyasan, before kiddushin; 4) Rambam holds that the chassan, the one performing the mitzvah, is obligated to recite the bracha.  If the mesader kiddushin recites the bracha, he has to have in mind to be motzi the chassan (Noda b'Yehuda mh"t eh"e  #1 -- question whether he has to have in mind he kallah as well); 5) Rambam never mentions the need to have 10 people present for birchas eirusin, only birchas nisuim.  Rosh debates the point because in his view birchas eirusin is a birchas ha'shevach just like birchas nisuin.

The Shi'iltos (#165) bridges the two positions and writes that there is a mitzvah to get married, have children, and fulfill pirya v'rivya.  

The Hagahos Ashri on the Rosh gives a different reason for the birchas eirusin not being said over l'asiyasan.  He quotes the gemara in Menachos that a bracha is only said on the gmar mitzvah, not on a stage in the process, e.g. you say a bracha on wearing a talis, not making one; you say a bracha on sitting in sukkah, not on building one.  Since there is no guarantee the couple will have children, kiddushin is not the gmar hamitzvah.  

Hg"A sounds like he agrees in principle with the Rosh, that the mitzvah is pirya v'rivya, not kiddushin, but nonetheless would still entertain the possibility of birchas eirusin being a birchas ha'mitzvah if not for the fact that it is not the gmar ha'mitzvah (see Ritva).

The Birchas Avraham asks: we say a birchas hamitzvah of "al biyur chametz" on bedikas chametz even though there exists the possibility of finding nothing during the search.  Why then according to Hg"A does the possibility of not having children negate birchas eirusin from being a birchas ha'mitzvah?


  1. could be that the gmiras daas to be rid of chametz is a kiyum hamitzva, similar to the Rambam that שמשעה שגמר בלבו לבטל נעשית מצות הבעור. You have biyecholes to be mevatel, so the bracha is definitely on a kiyum, since he is אינו רוצה בקיומו. I don't mean the RAmbam mamesh, since that would create an עובר לעשיתו problem.

  2. maybe its only bnei Noach who are commanded, even now, to people* [verb] the earth,

    while Yisraelim are commanded to be a perpetually** holy people [noun], for whom pirya v'rivya is only a necessary means (a preparation or hechsher), but not the end in itself?

    *in a codified way


  3. The derasha I gave at my chosson’s tisch was precisely on this issue, birchas erusin, and whether it is a birchas ha mitzvah or birchas hodaah.

    One thing you did not address is why, acc. to the Rambam, the beracha is so long, when it simply could have been a regular birchas ha mitzvah, e.g, lekadesh es has ishah or likach ishah.

    The answer I gave then, is that acc. to the Rambam the mitzvah is not to get married, but to use the legal process of kinyan when you get married. This is why the Rambam gives his famous introduction that states that before mattan Torah, adam pogeiah ishah beshuk, etc. The mitzvah is not to use that casual process, but to use a legal process of kinyan. All of the things mentioned in the beracha relate to that process.

    (Similar process mitzvos are shechitah and geirushin. The mitzvah is not to do the deed, but to use a particular process if you are doing that deed. Of course, I mentioned neither at the chosson’s tisch, for obvious reasons.)

    1. unlike the Bar Mitzva boy that I heard speak about ben sorer, the chasan at Sheva Brachos that spoke about meis aviv shel chassan, and so many other unintentionally horrible/hilarious drashos. But I'm not sure what you were going to use shechita and geirushin, while good process examples, as applications of the nusach of the bracha.
      Yasher koach on the answer. It allows you to turn every birkas shevach aspect into birkas hamitzvos.