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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Va’eira, Shemos 6:23. Vayikach Aharon es Elishava...Nadav and Avihu. Who Names the Baby and Other Vital Questions

After writing this, I realized that I had discussed three topics in reverse temporal order; "Who names a baby;" and "Who pays for a wedding" and "What should a wedding invitation look like." That's what happen when you write without an outline. If you're a Yekke, start from the end.

The Sefer Sdei Ha’aretz, as cited by Ikorei Hadinin in Yoreh Dei’oh 26:7, states the following:

Where the custom is that the father has the right of naming the first child, and he wants to name the child after his father, but the wife insists on giving the child her father’s name, the husband should not acquiesce to his wife’s wishes. The husband has a obligation to honor his father; to cede to his wife's wishes would denigrate his father, and one does not have the right to forego his father's honor. If, however, the wife gets angry, and household peace is threatened (duh...), then he should give the child both names. (This is not the place to discuss the many opinions, from the Tshuvos Mahrshal to Reb Moshe, that a dual name honors neither namesake.) Naturally, they will then start to fight about whose name should come first. In that case, the Sdei Ha’aretz says, at least the father should insist on his father’s name being first, because usually you end up calling the child by the first of his two names, and if the father-in-law’s name is first, giving your father's name will remain an empty gesture. He then brings from the Pri Ha’aretz that he saw in Chazal that Aharon's son Nadav was named after Elisheva’s father, Aminadav, and Avihu after Aharon’s father, Amram, by calling him Avi-hu-- and look what happened to Nadav and Avihu. Aharon was punished with the death of his two children because he was me’zalzel in the kavod of his father, Amram, by letting Elisheva push him into ceding the first child's name to her and her father.

The naming-rights question is discussed by the Rishonim. In Breishis 38:5, where Tamar chose her son's names, the Rishonim record several minhagim. The Da'as Zekeinim there says "ki hayah minhagam," in other words, the minhag in Biblical times, was that the father names the first child and the mother names the second and the father the third, alternating for all their children. The Ramban there cites the Radak and the Maharam of Rottenberg as saying the same as the Da'as Ze'keinim-- father, mother, father, etc. However, the Ramban disagrees, and says "ve'ein bazeh ta'am o rei'ach." The Ramban earlier also shows his disagreement, in Breishis 35:18, at the naming of Binyamin. Rachel called her son Ben Oni, and Yakov changed it to Binyamin. Rachel's name refers to her suffering, while Yakov's, though it sounds similar, refers to power and strength. The reason, the Ramban says, that Yaakov needed to find a name that comported with the name Rachel gave the child was "Ki chol banav be'sheim she'kar'u osam imam yikar'u." All Yakov's children were named by their mothers. In any case, apparently, somewhere along the line the minhag solidified. I am unaware of any Ashkenaz community in which the father has naming rights for the first child. (Even the Sdei Ha’aretz prefaces the discussion by saying the "where the minhag is that the father has the naming rights....") When did the minhag change? And why?

See, for further discussion on this matter, note 5 all the way at the end of this post found here:

Another minhag that has radically changed is - who pays for a wedding. It is clear in the Gemara that the Chosson’s side makes the wedding. Now, of course, the Kallah is expected to pay for the wedding. (Unless your mechutan pulls the "By us, everyone shares all the costs" line on you, which they generally do when they have the girl.) Yes, the chosson’s side pays for (an awful, but universal, acronym) FLOPS; flowers, liquor, orchestra, photographer and sheitel. If you're MO, then just FLOP. Often, this ends up costing the same as the rest of the wedding. But the fact remains that wedding, namely the wedding hall and the meal, is paid for by the Kallah. What happened? Why did this change?

It has been suggested that the change arose because of the Gemara in Brachos 6b, that one who enjoys the seudah of a chassan and does not bring him joy transgresses the five sounds that accompanied Mattan Torah. Nobody has an even halfway decent pshat in the Gemara, but evidently it is a very bad thing. So everyone was afraid that they might not dance well enough, or that the chassan might not notice them, and they would transgress this directive. To avoid the entire issue, the minhag changed so that the Kallah pays for the wedding, and it is no longer "Seudas Chassan", it's "Seudas Kallah." So you can blithely go to the wedding and let the chassan’s friends do the dancing. I find this unconvincing, illogical and trite. If it turns out to be a Taz or something, I apologize.

But Reb Moshe points out a very interesting thing in EH IV:92 D’H Vegam, which not only contradicts the oft-cited explanation about ‘seudas chassan," but also teaches a tremendous chiddush.

The teshuva discusses the current cost of a Kesuva. He digresses and says that there is something important that people should know. Besides the basic Kesuva value, kesuva obligations also include the Nichsei Tzon Barzel and Nichsei Melog, money or property the wife brings to the new family, which a husband must refund to the wife if she survives the marriage (a euphemism for "if she becomes a grusha or an almana.") Now, the obligation to pay for the wedding clearly falls upon the chassan. This is clear from the sugya of Pesach Pasu’ach in Kesuvos 10a. The Gemara there says that a husband’s claim that he found the kallah to not be a besulah is given credence because, according to Rava, a man would not work so hard to pay for and make a wedding only to throw it out on a pretense. The Gemara nowhere says that if the Kallah paid for the wedding that this presumption fails. Furthermore, he says, it has been the minhag for hundreds of years that the kallah’s side pays for the wedding, and nobody has said that the presumption no longer applies. Therefore, he says, it must be that the costs of the wedding that the kallah has borne are considered to be Naddin, or nidunya, cash that the Kallah has brought to the marriage. Nidunya has to be reimbursed when the marriage ends, as it is one of the Kesuva obligations. So the bottom line is that according to Reb Moshe, if a man divorces his wife and the principals have agreed that he will fulfil his kesuva obligations, he has to pay the kallah back for the wedding.

And here's another minhag that is changing: Have you ever received a Yeshivishe invitation in which the fathers' names are mentioned, and the wives referred to generically as "ve'ra'ayaso"? Like they don't have their own names? I assume this stems from one or more of several ideas: the Victorian Mr. and Mrs. Ploni Smith, or because a wife is considered an anonymous broodmare whose name doesn't deserve to be mentioned in public. Maybe it's an example of objectification.  Or maybe you feel it is just an application of kol kvuda bas melech pnimah. In any case, look at these invitations:

(I saw the second one when it was for for sale at )

The first invitation was from Reb Chaim Brisker's son's wedding, and the second is from Reb Leizer Yudel's son's wedding. As it happens, Reb Leizer Yudel's mechutan was Reb Chaim Brisker's son in law. He probably didn't like the Be'ezras Hashem on top, but what can you do, everyone's got issues with the mechutonim.

You will notice that the wives have names. And the fathers don't trumpet their smichos. And that you don't need to write 'na'aleh es Yerushalayim.' And you don't have to state that the girl is a besulah. (I once saw my mother shetichyeh open an invitation and start laughing. I asked her why, and she said that she saw that the Kallah was "Habesulah hamehullala Miriam," and she was wondering whether they would name their baby Jesus.)

In the spirit of fairness and diametric antithesis, a.k.a, people who hold punkt farkert: Here are two Chasidishe invitations. The first is from Klausenberg, 1933, and the second from Munkatch, 1946. I found them on M. Butler's blog,

This one is from Harav Joseph Breuer's wedding. It is not really of historical importance, since it is not an invitation from the hand of an adam gadol, but rather from the parents of a future gadol. I just put it here because it's sort of interesting.

And, Harav Reuven Feinstein Shlitah, Reb Moshe's son:  Reb Moshe's Rebbitzen had a name, and his smicha is missing.

Here is the invitation from the Kotlers and Schwartzmans.

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