By Rabbi Yehoshua Berman
Kesubos 7 – Count Your Blessings However They Come
Birchas chassanim is an exciting topic. Better known to us as the brachos under the chuppah and throughout the week of sheva brachos, who doesn’t get a certain thrill when learning this sugyah? Whether a bachur who is imagining the day when he’ll have his own sheva brachos, the young (or relatively young) married man who still fondly recalls his own, or an older parent who is or will soon be going through the stage of the birchas chassanim of his own children, almost everyone has good reason to feel a surge of excitement when coming across this topic.
There is a certain unique enjoyment in looking into all the various questions dealt with by the Poskim regarding this sugyah of birchas chassanim. One day versus seven days. What exactly constitutes panim chadashos. Two kosos or one. And, of course, how could we forget about the birchas eirusin? Nowadays we know this as the bracha which is assigned to the chashuveh Rav who is given the honor of mesader kidushin.
With all the fun and hype, though, this parsha is not always perfectly smooth and rosy for everyone. Not everyone gets to have their first pick at great Rav or Rosh Yeshiva who will be mesader kidushin or the respectable uncles or grandparents who will recite brachos under the chuppah.
Tosafos quotes Maseches Kallah that provides the source for birchas eirusin, “and they blessed Rivkah.” If you put two and two together, what that means is that Rivkah’s “mesader kidushin” was none other than Lavan (Besuel was dead according to the Medrash that says he wanted to poison Eliezer and the Malach switched the food). Lavan was also the “big man on campus” when it came to the next big chasunah of Yaakov and Leah, and Rachel as well. Perhaps Yaakov somehow managed to arrange a better mesader kidushin, but one thing is clear, Lavan clearly featured prominently as the baal simcha.
Amazingly (and I say this only half-way tongue-in-cheek), we don’t find that this disreputable and ignominious family representation caused any dampening of their simcha. Yitzchak, Rivkah, Yaakov, Rachel, and Leah, although they all did have certain issues they needed to deal with relating to their marriages, we don’t find that one of them was the lack of an honorable mesader kidushin or respectables for all the brachos under the chupah and throughout sheva brachos.
Perhaps you’ll reason that this was so because they did not perceive the brachos as being all that important in the grand scheme of things. That’s a hard one to posit, though, considering the fact that Chazal made the permissibility of husband and wife to one another contingent on the recitation of these brachos. Kallah b’lo bracha asurah l’baalah k’nidah. Apparently, these brachos do in fact carry great significance.
What this would necessarily bring us to conclude, then, is that if Hashem arranged that the conduit of these brachos would be a Lavan, then that is how those brachos were meant to get to them. That is not something we can readily understand. How someone as wicked and awful as Lavan could serve as the channel to bring so much bracha to the Avos and Imahos, and by extension all of Klal Yisrael, is definitely not within the immediate realm of our conception; but, the fact is that this is what the Hashgacha arranged. And if there is anything that could be said about the Avos and Imahos it is that they lived their lives with a keen sense of Hashgacha. That, it would seem, is the key to why a mesader kidushin such as Lavan would not phase them.
In just about every facet of life, we have our designs and expectations in mind about how things should be. If that is true in the rest of life, how much more so when it comes to a chasunah where most people want everything to be just so. It can be a bitter pill to swallow to have things not turn out the way we want, particularly when it comes to a wedding which we fervently hope will be a once-in-a-lifetime event. We have definite ideas in our minds about who we want to serve as mesader kidushin, who we would like to have saying the brachos under the chupah, and so on and so forth. Keeping in mind, though, that, ultimately, we are not the ones who know best how bracha will come to us, can be key to ensuring that our simcha won’t be marred when the inevitable surprises and disappointments arise here and there. When we remember that it is the unfathomable wisdom of Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu that determines precisely which conduit will bring us our bracha, we can joyously accept our brachos in whatever form they come.
Rabbi Yehoshua Berman serves as the Rosh Kollel of Kollel Reshet HaDaf in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel. In addition to having authored Reflections on the Parsha, Rabbi Berman regularly delivers shiurim on Halacha and Hashkafa, writes comprehensive chazara questions (in Hebrew) for the advanced Daf Yomi learner, and weekly words of inspiration from the Parsha. Rabbi Berman can be contacted at email@example.com.