A Yemenite Jewish bride in Israel, 1984. (Zion Ozeri/jewishlens.org/)

The Seven Blessings (Sheva Brachot) and Other Wedding Rituals

Abundant blessings for the bride and groom.

The Sheva Brachot (seven blessings) are the heart of the Jewish wedding ceremony.

Listen to the Sheva Brachot here.


The Seven Blessings in Hebrew and Interpretive Translation


א בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּֽפֶן׃
1 Blessed are you, YHVH our elo’ah, cosmic majesty, who shapes the fruit of the tree of knowledge.[1]

ב בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁהַכֹּל בָּרָא לִכְבוֹדוֹ׃
2 Blessed are you, YHVH our elo’ah, cosmic majesty, who creates everything as their glorious signifier![2]

ג בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם יוֹצֵר הָאָדָם׃
3 Blessed are you, YHVH our elo’ah, cosmic majesty, who fashions our cosmic potential![3]

ד בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר יָצַר אֶת הָאָדָם בְּצַלְמוֹ בְּצֶֽלֶם דְּמוּת תַּבְנִיתוֹ וְהִתְקִין לוֹ מִמֶּֽנּוּ בִּנְיַן עֲדֵי עַד. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ יוֹצֵר הָאָדָם׃
4 Blessed are you, YHVH our elo’ah, cosmic majesty, who fashions each person in their likeness. You have planted within us your creative potential and given us the means that we may perpetually flourish. Blessed are you YHVH, fashioner of our cosmic potential![4]

ה שׂוֹשׂ תָּשִׂישׂ וְתָגֵל הָעֲקָרָה בְּקִבּוּץ בָּנֶֽיהָ לְתוֹכָהּ בְּשִׂמְחָה. ‏בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ מְשַׂמֵּֽחַ צִיּוֹן בְּבָנֶֽיהָ׃
5 May she who was left bereft of her children, now delight as they gather together in joy. Blessed are you YHVH, who delights in Tziyon with her children![5]

ו שַׂמֵּֽחַ תְּשַׂמַּח רֵעִים הָאֲהוּבִים כְּשַׂמֵּחֲךָ יְצִירְךָ בְּגַן עֵֽדֶן מִקֶּֽדֶם. ‏בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ מְשַׂמֵּֽחַ חָתָן וְכַלָּה׃‏
6 Let these loving friends taste of the bliss you gave to the first man and woman in the Garden of Eden in our earliest memory. Blessed are you YHVH, who delights with bridegroom and bride![6]

ז בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר בָּרָא שָׂשׂוֹן וְשִׂמְחָה חָתָן וְכַלָּה גִּילָה רִנָּה דִּיצָה וְחֶדְוָה אַהֲבָה וְאַחֲוָה וְשָׁלוֹם וְרֵעוּת. מְהֵרָה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ יִשָּׁמַע בְּעָרֵי יְהוּדָה וּבְחֻצוֹת יְרוּשָׁלָםִ קוֹל שָׂשׂוֹן וְקוֹל שִׂמְחָה קוֹל חָתָן וְקוֹל כַּלָּה קוֹל מִצְהֲלוֹת חֲתָנִים מֵחֻפָּתָם וּנְעָרִים מִמִּשְׁתֵּה נְגִינָתָם. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ מְשַׂמֵּֽחַ חָתָן עִם הַכַּלָּה׃
7 Blessed are You, YHVH our elo’ah, cosmic majesty, who illuminates the world with happiness and contentment, love and companionship, peace and friendship, bridegroom and bride. Speedily, YHVH our elo’ah, let it be heard in all the intentional Jewish communities, and in the gates of the City of Peace, cries of joy, song, merriment, and delight — the voice of the groom and the voice of the bride, the jubilant voice of bridegrooms from their canopies, and of youths from their feasts of song. Blessed are you YHVH, who delights in bridegroom and bride together![7]

(Courtesy Aharon Varady/Open Siddur Project)


Sheva Brachot in Hebrew and English

א בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּֽפֶן׃

ב בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁהַכֹּל בָּרָא לִכְבוֹדוֹ׃

ג בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם יוֹצֵר הָאָדָם׃

ד בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר יָצַר אֶת הָאָדָם בְּצַלְמוֹ בְּצֶֽלֶם דְּמוּת תַּבְנִיתוֹ וְהִתְקִין לוֹ מִמֶּֽנּוּ בִּנְיַן עֲדֵי עַד. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ יוֹצֵר הָאָדָם׃

ה שׂוֹשׂ תָּשִׂישׂ וְתָגֵל הָעֲקָרָה בְּקִבּוּץ בָּנֶֽיהָ לְתוֹכָהּ בְּשִׂמְחָה. ‏בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ מְשַׂמֵּֽחַ צִיּוֹן בְּבָנֶֽיהָ׃

ו שַׂמֵּֽחַ תְּשַׂמַּח רֵעִים הָאֲהוּבִים כְּשַׂמֵּחֲךָ יְצִירְךָ בְּגַן עֵֽדֶן מִקֶּֽדֶם. ‏בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ מְשַׂמֵּֽחַ חָתָן וְכַלָּה׃‏

ז בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר בָּרָא שָׂשׂוֹן וְשִׂמְחָה חָתָן וְכַלָּה גִּילָה רִנָּה דִּיצָה וְחֶדְוָה אַהֲבָה וְאַחֲוָה וְשָׁלוֹם וְרֵעוּת.

מְהֵרָה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ יִשָּׁמַע בְּעָרֵי יְהוּדָה וּבְחֻצוֹת יְרוּשָׁלָםִ קוֹל שָׂשׂוֹן וְקוֹל שִׂמְחָה קוֹל חָתָן וְקוֹל כַּלָּה קוֹל מִצְהֲלוֹת חֲתָנִים מֵחֻפָּתָם וּנְעָרִים מִמִּשְׁתֵּה נְגִינָתָם. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ מְשַׂמֵּֽחַ חָתָן עִם הַכַּלָּה׃

1. May the life you share together be as sweet as this wine you drink today. Blessed is the Source of Life, who created the fruit of the vine.

2. May your love for one another always be a source of inspiration and happiness. Blessed is the Source of Joy, who creates a wonderful, brilliant world.

3. May your journey together be blessed with generosity and forgiveness. May you enable each other to fulfill your dreams, and may you be committed to the paths of courage and hope. Blessed is the Source of Generosity who created such good, remarkable people…you two!

4. Wherever you travel, and wherever life takes you, may the love of your family and friends always echo in your hearts…even across great distances and times. Blessed is the Source of Love who supports the edifice of love.

5. With the strength of your relationship, may you help transform the world in big ways and small ways. May your love for each other be a source of warmth and inspiration for your community. Blessed is the Source of Healing who brings wellbeing to the world through Her children.

6. May you always find a refuge tucked within your love – a place to hide out, and a place to reflect. Blessed is the Source of Safety, who brings joy to the brides.

7. Blessed is the Source of Life, who creates wonder, pleasure, song, and delight! May the bride and groom be filled with gladness, and rejoicing, love, harmony, and companionship. And may they be blessed with lots and lots of peace! Blessed is the Source of Life, who is the Source of Peace.

Courtesy of Rabbi Josh Bolton via Sefaria


Read the Sheva Brachot in Hebrew, transliteration and translation at Ritual Well.


 

Under the Chuppah

During the ceremony, the seven blessings are traditionally chanted in Hebrew and may also be read in English. In the Sephardic tradition, a parent often wraps the bride and groom in a tallit (prayer shawl) before the recitation of the blessings, to recognize the intimacy and significance of the moment. Many contemporary couples use the theme of “blessing” to creatively interpret the reading of the Sheva Brachot: They may invite seven friends or family members to each recite one of the blessings or have the traditional blessings sung in Hebrew while friends or family members offer seven non-traditional blessings in English.

There are many English interpretations of the Sheva Brachot available, some of which use neutral or feminine God language instead of the traditional male imagery. Often couples will include the Sheva Brachot in Hebrew and/or English in their wedding programs so that guests can fully participate in this important moment in the ceremony. Traditionally, everyone present joins with the leader in singing parts of the final blessing.


Some Alternative Versions of the Sheva Brachot

A New Seven Blessings

An Abbreviated Version of the Sheva Brachot

Sheva Brachot for Two Female-Identified Partners

Sheva Brachot for Two Men


At the Wedding Celebration

weddingpicforBLarticle

It is customary for the Sheva Brachot to be recited again during the wedding celebration over a glass of wine, following the Birkat Hamazon (grace after meals). This second sharing of the blessings gives couples an additional opportunity to honor their loved ones by inviting them to offer one of the blessings. Another beautiful custom for this sharing of the Sheva Brachot is for the wine to be divided into two different cups–representing bride and groom–that are then poured together into a third cup. The wine that has been mixed together is poured back into cups for the bride and groom, and also poured into the third cup, shared by the community. This ritual shows how the couple is now connected, and how their life together is intertwined with community.

The Week After the Wedding

While today most newly married couples are eager to sneak away for honeymoon time alone (and often to de-stress from their wedding planning marathons), Jewish tradition held that the bride and groom needed time with the community to help start their marriage out on the right foot. For the seven days following the wedding, the bride and groom were treated like a queen and king, and were invited to dine at the home of a different friend or relative on each night. These festive meals were called “Sheva Brachot.” Following dinner, the seven blessings would be recited again–as long as a minyan of 10 men were present and there was at least one new person (who hadn’t been at the wedding) present. The idea of the dinners was to have real community celebrations for the couple, and parties often went into the night. During generations when marriages were arranged and couples may have met just before marriage the Sheva Brachot meals served as a way for the couple to get to know each other, while being supported by the community.

Today the Sheva Brachot festive meals are still an important custom, though observed more regularly in traditional circles. Some couples postpone their honeymoon trips so that they can celebrate with their community first and then celebrate their marriage together later. Other Jewish couples are choosing to engage in the custom for some of their first week of marriage or will even celebrate a week of Sheva Brachot when they return from their honeymoons.

Some Debate

Traditionally, only Jewish men are counted in a minyan and only Jewish men can recite the Sheva Brachot, both under the chuppah and during the festive meals following the wedding. In liberal Jewish communities, both men and women are welcomed and encouraged to recite the Sheva Brachot. Some Orthodox feminists have challenged the halacha (Jewish law) surrounding this debate, but have largely not made ground in changing this tradition. Other Orthodox and some Conservative women, though, in a desire not to challenge the halacha but to still include women friends and family members in their wedding honors have created a new tradition: the Sheva Shevahot, or seven praises. These seven praises are recited before, rather than after, the wedding meal, and emphasize the psalms and poems which celebrate the accomplishments of Biblical women. The seventh praise is often the Shehechiyanu blessing.

Rabbi Dov Linzer, a Modern Orthodox rabbi, has written largely about another halachic compromise: calling both men and women up to the chuppah in pairs for a Sheva Brachot honor, with the man reciting the blessing in Hebrew and the woman reading an English translation. Rabbi Linzer also notes that in terms of halacha, the reciting of the Sheva Brachot after the meal at the wedding celebration is the obligation of the community, rather than the groom himself, and so since women are part of the community, they may participate in sharing those honors in Hebrew.

The Tradition Continues…

As with so many Jewish rituals, the expression of the Sheva Brachot has evolved over time, but their place and importance as the central celebratory liturgy in a Jewish wedding ceremony holds fast.


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