May 6, 2009

Live and Learn

one of the interesting things about learning halacha is learning about something that you actually do. It is particularly interesting to learn a halacha and see you have been doing something wrong, or that what you thought was a halacha is really one of various minhagim, or what you thought was a minhag is a halacha, or even better - what you did not realize was a halacha (or minhag) at all, really is.

Last night in our halacha shiur we learned about a halacha that I did not previously know was a halacha.

It is very common by weddings for the officiating rabbi to crack some "rabbinic humor" under the chupa. The most common of these instances is when the guy whips out the wedding band and the rabbi looks at it. He then, often, asks the witnesses humorously to look at the ring and affirm that it is worth more than a pruta.

Depending on his tone and inflection during the request, considering how ridiculous the request usually is considering the ring usually costs in the range of $100, the whole place cracks up.

Until now I thought that was simply a touch of rabbinic humor used to lighten the tension perhaps. Last night we learned that no matter how obvious it is, the rabbi has to make sure the witnesses are aware it is worth more than a pruta - he is supposed to ask them if it is worth more, and they have to say yes to affirm it.

Live and learn!


  1. Addedraba, he asks if its worth more than a shaveh prutah, davka because we want the Isha to understand that she is getting "niknes" by a shaveh prutah, and not a ring worth $100, bc if its only $99, then its a shaila of gmiras daas

  2. that is when they tell her it is worth a shava pruta. But aside from that the officiating rabbi has to ask the witnesses and get confirmation of their awareness - even if the wife does not understand what is going on.
    2 separate things.

  3. The problem is if the aidim know how much a pruta is worth,and how much did the ring cost.Were they at the store when the Chatan bought the ring? Or are they just depending on his word.

  4. anon - that is less of a problem. since a pruta is about 4 agurot (1 penny more or less), you will be hard pressed to find a ring that is not worth at least that. I do not know if they have to know the actual real value - just that it is more than a shava pruta.

    in a case where a ring is not being used, but some cheap material (maybe in a very poor third world country), your question would be a valid problem.

  5. Mordechai Y. ScherMay 06, 2009 7:44 PM

    Anthropologically interesting that you seem to have seen this in the past as a humorous act. I've never seen it done in a 'light' manner. It was always pretty straightforward and clear to achieve the purpose of verification.

  6. I have been to many weddings, and it is often done in a humorous way, with a smile and a chuckle, and the crowd, at least those who can hear, start laughing...

  7. My brother decided he'd be funny and under the chupa when he was asked if the ring was worth shava pruta he answered "More or less."

    Afterwards they had to redo the kiddushin b/c he didn't give the right answer. While everybody was shmoozing at the shmorg, they got new eidim and did the "harei at" again.

  8. I've seen a chuppah held up when the chatan said that he had bought the ring only a couple of days before and he had paid for it with his VISA card, which hadn't yet charged his account - so he reckoned that he had not yet paid for the ring, and was therefore not the owner.
    After a few minutes of discussion, it was decided that he had to buy a ring for a couple of pounds from a friend, and use that ring to marry his wife, instead of the fancy ring that he 'hadn't yet paid for'.


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