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Aufruf

 

By: Rabbi Ari Enkin

The Shabbat before a man is to be married is known as the “Shabbat Chatan” (lit: the groom’s Shabbat). The central event of this Shabbat is frequently referred to as the “Aufruf”, referring to the custom of calling a man to the Torah on the Shabbat prior to his wedding. The Aufruf is as ancient as it is exciting among Ashkenazi Jewry and is often accompanied with an elaborate festive meal, as well.

On this particular Shabbat, the future groom takes priority above all others in the congregation for receiving an Aliya.[1] In the event that a groom will be leaving his city some time before the wedding is to take place, such as in order to travel to the place where the wedding will be held, these privileges apply on the Shabbat before he leaves town. He may even choose which of the seven Aliyot he would like to receive. According to Sefardic tradition, it is usually the Shabbat following the wedding when these festivities take place.[2] 

It is reported[3] that the Aufruf custom actually derives from none other than King Solomon himself. When Solomon built the Temple, he intentionally prepared two entranceways for distinct events. One was to provide entry for grooms and the other was to provide entry for mourners. When onlookers would see someone enter through the opening reserved for grooms they would shower blessings upon him, especially that he be blessed with children. Similarly, when someone was seen entering the gate reserved for mourners, that person was offered condolences. Once the Temple was destroyed, the synagogue became the new venue for blessing both grooms and mourners.[4] 

The significance of calling a man to the Torah on the Shabbat before his wedding originates in the Talmud.[5] It is taught that a man who lacks a wife is “without happiness, without blessing, and without Torah.” The maturity that comes with marriage forces a fresh outlook to both the quality and application of one’s Torah studies. To cite but one example, a person is required to teach his family what he himself as learned. 

Many authorities insist that the groom receive an Aliya on the Shabbat following his wedding, as well.[6] This is intended to parallel the idea that a groom is to be treated like a king. Just as a king is required to write for himself two Torah scrolls, we similarly call a groom up to the Torah twice, both before and after his wedding.[7]

It appears from several sources that the elevated status that a groom enjoys throughout the week following his wedding actually commences from the Aufruf. Indeed, rabbinic literature compares a groom to a king in a number of different ways:[8] both a king and groom are forbidden to appear in public unaccompanied, both are subject to much praise, they both wear lavish clothing, both are in a constant state of celebration, and their faces seem to shine. As such, a bride or groom should not be left unaccompanied in public from the time of the Aufruf until after the week of Sheva Berachot.[9] Some authorities only require this ‘guarding’ of the bride and groom from their wedding day.[10] 

The custom of throwing sweets upon a groom after he has been called to the Torah likely originates from the Talmudic[11] practice of throwing foodstuffs at a bride and groom at their wedding. Perhaps at some point in history social attitudes had changed rendering throwing food at a wedding ceremony unacceptable. As such, the custom was shifted to the Aufruf.

While on the topic of throwing food at a groom, it is interesting to note that the idea of throwing candies is not to be found in any of the classical literature.[12] The candidate foods mentioned include nuts, almonds, and raisons, each with their own respective symbolism. For example, nuts, egoz in Hebrew, have the same numerical value as the word “sin” reflecting the idea that all of person’s sins are forgiven on the day they get married. An almond, being the fruit that ripens fastest, represents the blessing for children without delay.


[1] Biur Halacha 136

[2] Ta’amei Haminhagim 402

[3] Shita Mekubetzet;Ketubot 5a, Pirkei D’rabbi Eliezer 17, Tur Y.D. 393, Ta’amei Haminhagim

[4] This is likely the source of the custom for mourners to be formally welcomed into the congregation after the Kabbalat Shabbat service.

[5] Yevamot 62b

[6] Biur Halacha 136

[7] Midrash Talpiot p.223

[8] Pirkei D’rabbi Eliezer ibid.

[9] Minhag Yisrael Torah O.C. 239:4

[10] Berachot 54b

[11] Berachot 50b

[12] Ta’amei Haminhagim

 
 
The opinions and facts here are presented solely by the author. Torah Musings assumes no responsibility for them. Please address religious questions to your rabbi.
 

27 Responses

  1. Sharon says:

    What is the source for the following statement?
    “To cite but one example, a person is required to teach his family what he himself as learned.”

  2. tziki kedera says:

    the singing on the way to shule is for publicity in case of mamzerut, bigamy etc…

  3. Ari Enkin says:

    Sharon-

    AAARRGH. Cant believe I missed it. I will try to find it.

    Ari Enkin

  4. Michael says:

    “According to Sefardic tradition, it is usually the Shabbat following the wedding when these festivities take place.[2]”

    -I’ve noticed since coming on aliyah 2 years ago that Ashkenazi communities in Israel (at least in the dati le’umi sector) also seem to make the Shabbat Chatan during Sheva B’rachot week.

    “it is interesting to note that the idea of throwing candies is not to be found in any of the classical literature.[12]”

    -I didn’t think that candies, as we know them today, are that old anyway.

  5. Michael says:

    On a completely unrelated note, (just thinking b/c of Rosh Chodesh) Maybe you could cover the topic of Tefillin on Rosh Chodesh. Specifically when to take them off, and the priority given to wrapping them or starting Musaf with the Chazan.

  6. Ari Enkin says:

    Michael,

    I like it. Ill get it in queue asap.

    Ari

  7. joe26nj says:

    what is the etymology of the word aufruf?

  8. Ari Enkin says:

    I think it means “to get up” or “to call up”.

    Ari

  9. Anonymous says:

    “what is the etymology of the word aufruf?”

    It is a German word. It means “call, appeal, invocation, proclamation, summons, calling-in.” link

  10. Joseph Kaplan says:

    This is the first time I ever heard this Shabbat referred to as “Shabbat Chatan,” although in recent years I’ve heard it referred to as Shabbat Callah in the bride’s community where the bride’s friends and family join her in celebration (possibly at a WTG or a Shirah Chadassha davening if there is one and she participates in those groups). So I’m curious; what’s the earliest written source you have for calling it Shabbat Chatan?

  11. Ari Enkin says:

    Joseph-

    Good question. I dont have a date, but the term is certainly in use. See for example:

    http://he.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D7%A9%D7%91%D7%AA_%D7%97%D7%AA%D7%9F

    http://www.kipa.co.il/ask/show/55539-%D7%A9%D7%91%D7%AA-%D7%97%D7%AA%D7%9F

    Ari Enkin

  12. S. says:

    It’s an Israeli term. They weren’t very well going to call it an “aufruf,” except of course for the exceptions to such things.

    It’s possible that it is a Sefardic term which precedes its Israeliness, but this is not entirely likely because a full text search of Google Books reveals absolutely zero uses of the term, and a search of the 52,000 books on Otzar Hachochma also returned few results, and none of them old. Still, it could have been one of those “low prestige” terms used by the masses, so that’s why you don’t find it in old seforim. But I’m leaning toward its Israeli-Pre-Israeli coinage in place of “aufruf,” and that the Sefardim called it something in Arabic.

  13. Nachum says:

    Ever since I went to an exhibit on the Warsaw Ghetto (the Ringelblum archives) at the New York Jewish Heritage Museum, I’ve tried to avoid using the word “aufruf.”

    One item on display was a sign listing people to report to the square on a certain day- to be taken to their deaths, of course. Atop the sign was one large word: “AUFRUF.”

    And this Shabbat is mine!

  14. SO says:

    Regarding the origin of throwing candy at a simcha, I believe there is a historical reason for this. In my article on “Secular Names” (Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society Fall, 1997)I wrote the following:
    Rabbi Avraham Moshe Tendlau (1801-1877) wrote that the word “kreisch” used in the sense of “Tze’aka” comes from the old German “kreien”, or “kreischen”. This is similar to the English word in use today, ‘cry’]. On the first Shabbat that the mother came to Shul, the children of the community would be invited to the home of the new baby. They would lift up the cradle and call out the nickname, the shem chol, of the new baby. The adults would throw fruit to the children. The sixteenth-century rabbi, Rabbi Yosef Hahn Neuerlingen, author of Yosef Ohmetz, warned about the custom of throwing fruit to the children. The fruit got squashed and this was Bizui Ochlin, a desecration of food. The custom arose to throw candy to the children. This is probably the origin of today’s custom to throw candy to the children at joyous occasions in shul. (See “Shorshei Minhag Ashkenaz”)

  15. Treasures of Ashkenaz says:

    “The custom of throwing sweets upon a groom after he has been called to the Torah likely originates from the Talmudic[11] practice of throwing foodstuffs at a bride and groom at their wedding. Perhaps at some point in history social attitudes had changed rendering throwing food at a wedding ceremony unacceptable. As such, the custom was shifted to the Aufruf.”

    שרשי מנהג אשכנז חלק ד discusses this at length. The recent English synopsis volume has some info on it as well.

    Briefly, historic minhag Ashkenaz does not have the later practice of throwing candies or fruit in Shul on the Shabbos before the chassunah. It was not accepted for various reasons, among them bizayon ochlin, bizayon beis haknesses, and the problem re eating in Shul.

    Instead, the old minhog of throwing wheat kernels on the day of the chassunah is followed.

  16. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    at a sfardi’s aufruf in my ashkenazi shul (the kalah was a certified yekke), i volunterred to be in charge of candy, and arranged wrapped candy, etc which is similar to sfardi style nuts, candy, etc still done today (askl nachum what they had for him.) the person in chasrge of cleaning up was afraid of cleaning it, and missing come wrapped candy. i assured her there will be plenty of “mice” to ensure every single pc of candy is found. i was right.

    2. is it possible the gemara’s throwing wheat kernels is not done today because of non jews throwing rice, etc? (rice, of course, is an old world item; otherwise ity would be kitniyot.)

  17. Rafael Araujo says:

    “Instead, the old minhog of throwing wheat kernels on the day of the chassunah is followed.”

    What are the chances my local kosher grocery store carries candy and fruit vs. wheat kernels?

    Regardless, thank you for that information.

  18. Mair Zvi says:

    In our Shul, after the Chosson completes his aliyah and is pelted with little bags of soft candies, the Chosson and men circle dance, Hakoffes-style, around the Bimah while singing “siman tov n’mazal tov” etc. for several minutes. The candies usually end up in the hands, pockets, and mouths of little boys who impatiently wait for the candies to be thrown by the women from the second-storey Ezras Nashim.

  19. Nachum says:

    MeMedinat- not yet! Someone recommended we bring over those jelly discs from the US- wrapped, and not hard. But in Israel, you buy these big bags with little hard toffee-like candies wrapped in labels that say “Mazal Tov.”

    Then again, at my cousin’s recent weekday Aufruff (now *there’s* a topic- the wedding was Tuesday, most relations arrived Sunday, so they gave him an aliya Monday)- they threw, I kid you not, miniature Toblerones. Ouch. And bags of small candies, I think.

  20. Sharon says:

    R. Enkin, if you have a chance, would it be possible to please post the source for “…a person is required to teach his family what he himself as learned.”
    Many thanks!

  21. Ari Enkin says:

    Whoa! Lebowitz is a star in print and in audio! Baruch shechalak…

    Ari Enkin

  22. Israel Fathers Rights Advocacy Council says:

    Shabbat Chatan is not the aufruf. It is the shabbat of Sheva brachot. The term has been borrowed by ignorant Ashkinazim and their group travel planners for whatever it is those Litvaks celebrate before the wedding. Big difference. Sefardim know to keep their powder dry until the glass is officially broken under the chupa :-)

  23. Guest says:

    “Perhaps at some point in history social attitudes had changed rendering throwing food at a wedding ceremony unacceptable.”

    But to throw food in shul… that’s perfectly acceptable.

  24. Ari Enkin says:

    Sharon-

    I spent alot of time today trying to track down that source. No luck. If I come accross it, I will post it here.

    Regards,

    Ari Enkin

  25. birkat hedyot says:

    “And this Shabbat is mine!”

    Mazel tov, Nachum! Much happiness always

 
 

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