Weddings on Yom Ha-Atzma'ut

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From the Eretz Hemdah website (link):

Q: Is it permitted to get married on Yom Ha’atzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim?

A: As you know, there is an ancient custom not to marry during the period of sefira, when we commemorate the death of the students of Rabbi Akiva. There are opinions that are lenient in a variety of cases of need and mitzva (see a survey of opinions in Yein Hatov II:11), but the minhag, in general, is kept strictly.

Chief Rabbi Nissim (ibid.) felt that celebrating the miracles and Divine blessings associated with Yom Ha’atzmaut (5 Iyar) is reason enough to allow a full suspension of the minhagim of sefira, including marriage, on that day. Other distinguished contemporaries of Rav Nissim, while appreciating, as he did, the importance of those crucial, historic events, believed that allowing marriages on Yom Ha’atzmaut was too revolutionary a leniency to adopt in our generation. See the responsa of Rav Ovadia Hadaya (Yaskil Avdi VI, 10) and Chief Rabbi Unterman (Shevet Miyehuda 60), who [adopt] the latter view.

After confirming with religious councils in Israel that the practice is to not allow marriages on Yom Ha’atzmaut, we feel that this custom should be followed, but those who decide to have the wedding then, have whom to rely on.

The situation on Yom Yerushalayim (28 Iyar) is different, as it falls after Lag Ba’omer. Since, according to the minhag of many, the restrictions of the sefira period are over (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 493 and Mishna Berura, ad loc.), there is significantly more room for leniency. Consequently, the Chief Rabbinate Council (under the presidency of Chief Rabbis Unterman and Nissim, z.t.l.) issued a directive to allow marriages on Yom Yerushalayim. In Bemareh Habazak III, pg. 100 we cited this ruling and stressed its particular relevance for those who have not yet fulfilled the mitzva of pru u’revu.

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

5 comments

  1. According to R’ Hershel Schachter, the Rav was opposed to suspension of Sefira for these days.

  2. R. Schachter’s daughter got engaged to a Merkaz HaRav student on Yom Ha-Atzma’ut. The yeshiva boys starting singing and dancing, and R. Schachter asked them to stop (as per the Magen Avraham and Rav Soloveitchik).

  3. Shalom Rosenfeld

    I don’t know enough about how the Israeli rabbinic system works: if a less-observant Israeli couple shows up to a rabbi’s office during Sefira (let’s assume before Lag BaOmer, and not on Yom Ha’aztmaut) and asks that he marry them; is he allowed to marry them by state law? By rabbanut policy? By the force of the minhag (it’s less than ideal, but how hard should he push them off)?

  4. No one “shows up” and gets married. They’d have to wait a couple of weeks anyway.

  5. If I may- it would be useful to provide more context for R’ Hadaya’s and R’ Unterman’s opinions. The phrasing that you’ve given, namely that weddings on Yom Haatzmaut were “too revolutionary a leniency to adopt in our generation,” is problematic for someone living in 2011, since R’ Hadaya was niftar in 1969 and R’ Unterman in 1976 (and had ended his term as chief rabbi in 1972). If their objections really were over how recent things were, surely that needs to be examined in every generation.

    Also, regarding Yom Yerushalayim- not sure if it’s just me, but I know of several Orthodox weddings happening here in the US during the second half of sefira, on completely random days (other than being Sundays or Memorial Day). This post seems to suggest that such practices are fine, as well. Was a directive really necessary to allow weddings on Yom Yerushalayim?

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