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Aug 14, 2013

Interesting Psak: Double-Ring ceremony is invalid

Kooker and Rotter are reporting on an interesting psak given by Rav Efraim Mendelovitz, rav of Mazkeret Batya.

Rav Mendelovitz was booked to officiate at the wedding of a secular couple. Several days prior to the wedding, the bride informed the rav that she insists on having a "double ring" ceremony and that she would be saying "Harei Ata Mekudash Lee b'tabaat zu" - with this ring you are betrothed to me..

I have heard of double ring ceremonies. Rav Moshe Feinstein was against double ring ceremonies under the chupa, but as far as I know he said a double ring ceremony would not invalidate a wedding. As well, some double ring ceremonies have the woman making a different statement - not the gender-altered version of the "harei at" that this bride wanted to say, but a more symbolic statement of the ring representing the love and commitment between the couple. Such a symbolic statement would be less of a problem than the altered "harei at".

Rav Mendelovitz however refused to officiate at the wedding of this couple after hearing her insistence.on the double ceremony. Rav Mendelovitz's rationale, which he explained to the bride, was that the chupa ceremony is based on the male partner being the giver and the female partner being the recipient. That is the reality, that is what is built into our natures and the woman giving a ring cannot change the situation determined by the higher power.

The marriage ceremony, the rav explained, is set to consist of the bringing the woman under the chupa, giving the ring, writing and giving the ketuba. That is it. What she wants to do is prohibited. Even though her giving the ring is prohibited, that on it's own is a meaningless act does not ruin the ceremony, Rav Moshe Feinstein  says it is prohibited for two reasons :
1. it is what the non-Jews do
2. the chupa must be in according with the halachos of Moshe and the Jewish people, and this is not a Jewish act in any way.

As well, there is a concern that even though the double ring does not on it's own invalidate the ceremony, someone viewing it as one of the guests might misunderstand what took place, and it could lead to problems elsewhere. People will see it and will say that the woman also has the power to initiate the marriage with the man, or they might say that both the man and woman are required to initiate the marriage. Thsi would cause, God forbid, people to forget the actual law of what should be at the wedding ceremony, or maybe even to change the halacha.

Therefore, the rav decided to refuse to officiate at such a ceremony.

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  1. Replies
    1. Maybe he puts it on himself without any female statement!

    2. ummm, no. a double ring ceremony is not jewish. a man wearing a wedding band, you have no basis to say this at all from here. your logic and deduction is very flawed.

  2. Rav Moshe (Even HaEzer III:18) writes explicitly that it is prohibited to perform a double ring ceremony. The fact that he holds that after the fact the wedding is valid (and the couple would require a get if they wanted to divorce) does not allow a Rabbi to officiate at such a ceremony. Rav Moshe only permits the wife giving a ring after the ceremony without saying any words.
    I think it clear from the Gemara (Kiddushin 4b) that a wife giving a ring while reciting this formula is not the correct thing to do:

    הוה אמינא היכא דיהבה (ליה) איהי לדידיה וקידשתו הוו קידושי כתב רחמנא כי יקח ולא כי תקח

    And had Scripture written: ‘and she shall go out for nothing,’ I would have thought, if she [the
    wife] gives him [the husband] money and betroths him, it is valid Kiddushin: therefore Scripture wrote, ‘when a man taketh’, but not, ‘when a woman taketh’

    So, I'm not sure what is interesting or novel about this p'sak. If someone argued on Rav Moshe, and was able to explain the Gemara and demonstrate that a double ring ceremony is permitted it would be an interesting p'sak.
    Surely we expect Rabbis to follow the normative halacha. When they do so it should not be newsworthy.

  3. I understood, perhaps incorrectly, that a double ring ceremony could be permitted if the text said by the woman does not mirror the marriage statement made by the man but is just a symbolic statement of love and commitment.

  4. HA-HA! What did we tell you?

    Wedding bands on men are not Jewish!

    and of course the Talmud is replete with sources of wedding bands for women. oops, never mind, it's not.
    Joel Rich

  5. I'm going to argue with the Psak, but I do wonder why it would be prohibited. The Gemara simply says that it doesn't work. It doesn't even hint that it is Assur to do so.

    And yes, wedding rings are not a Jewish innovation and were definitely copied from the surrounding culture. I don't know if that culture was Christian or not. That's irrelevant.

  6. I was at such a wedding in Israel. The officiator interpreted rabbi Feinstein to allow it as long as 2 things: the couples alternative is not orthodox and there is a obvious separation between the man giving first and the woman giving second. I think he read the kesuba in between.

  7. Rabbi Sedley, thanks for the confirmation. I was scared that I would not be able to come home tonight for fear of ichud and an invalid marriage. My wife insisted on giving me a ring, but the rabbi (who turns out to me a liberal one, only approved if it was after the ceremony (before the cup) and just as a present). Esser, baruch Hashem, I don't wear it anymore.

  8. I was told that the husband giving the wife a wedding ring was an act of kinyon. By her giving something in return that act of kinyon has been turned into a straight up trade nullifying the kinyon.


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