“…וַיֵּרָא אֵלָיו וַיִּפֹּל עַל צַוָּארָיו וַיֵּבְךְּ עַל צַוָּארָיו עוֹד. וַיֹּאמֶר יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶל יוֹסֵף אָמוּתָה הַפָּעַם אַחֲרֵי רְאוֹתִי אֶת פָּנֶיךָ כִּי עוֹדְךָ חָי.”
“And [Joseph] appeared to him [Jacob] and he fell on his neck and wept on his neck a good while. And Israel said unto Joseph, Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art yet alive.” (Bereishit 46:29-30)
“One who sees his friend after a separation of 30 days, recites the Shehchiyanu blessing. After a separation of 12 months, he recites michayei meitim (Who brings the dead to life), provided that he is very dear to him and he rejoices at seeing him.” (Shulkhan Arukh, Orach Chayyim 225:1)
As a mesader kiddushin, I often encounter couples who would like to recite the brakha of shehechiyanu under the chuppah. I know that this is not usually done and that some people will do it by having the groom recite the brakha on a new tallit and a bride on the new wedding dress. Is there a way to recite this brakha directly on the joy of the wedding.
Thank you for this question. The first issue that needs to be addressed is why, indeed, has it not been the practice to recite shehechiyanu in the past, given the great joy that is experienced by the couple at their wedding? For a long time, my understanding had been that this brakha had been superseded by the sheva brakhot that are an expansive expression of this joy.
There is a problem with this explanation, however, because the sheva brakhot are recited by members of the community, not the bride and the groom. As such, it is not so much an expression of the couple’s felt joy but of the community’s wishes and prayers that the couple be joyous.
Why, then, has it not been the practice to have the couple not recite the shehechiyanu blessing over the joy they are feeling? The reason, I believe, is that in the past, such joy could not be assumed to be present, as marriages were often arranged by the parents with little consideration of the feelings of the bride and groom.
Nowadays, it is expected that a bride and groom marry for love and that they come to the chuppah with profound feelings of joy. In such cases, reciting the brakha of shehechiyanu is not only halakhically acceptable, but could even be argued to be halakhically required. Rav Yaakov Emden, in fact, rules exactly this way. In Mor uKtziya (223), he writes:
Regarding [marrying] a woman, it appears to me that if the woman is fitting for him, then he should definitely recite she’hechiyanu, either over the fulfillment of the mitzvah (to marry), in particular if she is his first wife, or because this is of no less significance than seeing a friend towards whom one has warm feelings (whom one hasn’t seen in a while). But if she is not fitting for him – it goes without saying if she is halakhically ineligible to marry him or if she is promiscuous, but even if she just does not find favor in his eyes – and he is only marrying her out of financial considerations, then he certainly should not recite any brakha.
My conclusion, then, is that if–G-d willing–a couple is feeling joy and gratitude at their wedding, they may, and most likely should, recite the she’hechiyanu blessing to give expression to this joy.
(I discuss this at greater length in my upcoming book of teshuvot, The Rosh Yeshiva Responds).