Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Nefesh (keshura) B'Nefesh Proposal - Is her "I Do" a Done Deal?

Ah-h-h, the diamond business. I remember it well, Horatio.

In my youth it was a great business. A wholesome, straightforward, and honorable business. It put a lot of food on my plate and it still does, to some extent. But, aside from it being a kosher lucrative business, it was also a cheerful business.

This is because there is a long standing tradition for a groom to present his bride with a diamond ring in the early stages of the engagement. This is a custom that seems to be shared by many cultures so it is practiced by Jew and non-Jew alike, which suits us in the diamond business just fine.

For the young Jewish grooms of our little village of Anatev um-er, Natwich, my father always got a sense of satisfaction helping them to gladden the hearts of their intendeds for rock bottom prices. As a fringe benefit, we often had the earliest scoop on who is about to get hitched.

Actually, in the times before formal Chassan guidance courses became commonplace, Dad (LOY"T) was always happy to fill in the role at no extra charge. Okay, he didn't mix in to the intimate aspects but he is certainly a "mumcheh" in the Halachos of Kiddushin and Nissuin. This means what kind of ring to use for what and when and how to deliver it. Obviously, it all comes with the territory.

A big problem in the American scene is that, although there is a Jewish way of doing things, we are all enraptured by the chukos hagoyim. The goyish way always seems more "romantic". So even Jews get down on one knee to "pop the question" and carry the bride across the threshold.

These may seem like innocuous "romanticisms", but, if misunderstood, they can make problems. We frum Jews in the diamond business know the rules. What you should do, and what you shouldn't do. And one of the rules is that when you give the diamond engagement ring to the new Kallah, you give it to her in private. If there are people around, some rabbanim even advise to mention that this ring is "shelo l'shem kiddushin" (not for the purpose of betrothal). What you don't do is what you see here.



Now isn't that an adorable couple? They do indeed look very tzugepass'd and I wish them a long life of bracha and happiness and true Yiddish nachas. May they build a bayis neeman b'Yisrael. Mazel Tov on their engagement.

But---are they merely engaged? I am not so sure. He asked her to marry her in front of a lot of witnesses, some of whom are Mitzva observant adult men. She accepted in front of all those witnesses and he put a valuable ring on her finger in front of all those witnesses (and captured on video). Could it be that this constitutes a Halachic betrothal (erussin) and she is actually already mekudeshet and an eishet ish?

I think it can. And, if so, it may be a little late for Rabbi Fass to officiate (Tzippi Livni beat him to it). No, I am not a posek but I do think that one should be consulted.

Now, assuming this radiant couple follows through to a typical marriage ceremony in the near future - and there is every indication from their enthusiasm that they will, IY"H, there are not many major ramifications to this question. The main issue is: should they conduct the erussin at the wedding with reciting the Birkat Erussin or not. If the erussin already took effect, it would be a bracha l'vatala. Another ramification is that according to many authorities (not all) the requirement for a married woman to cover her hair may already be in effect.

Obviously, the bigger question would be in the unfortunate scenario that (chas v'shalom) one of the parties may reconsider going through with the match.

Would she require a get?

I certainly hope that this negative scenario is unthinkable because the get question is not.

For all you singles (particularly the remaining 80 from the Nefesh b'Nefesh flight) out there. There is a Jewish way to do things and a non-Jewish way. And when you do something the non-Jewish way, you may actually be doing something else the Jewish way.

It pays to know what you are doing.

I do not know if my concern of a valid Keddushin is correct (I discussed the matter with a few colleagues in the Kehilat Bnei Torah Beis Midrash without resolving the question), but it is worth checking out. And if it is:

Mazel Tov Mrs. Nechama Dina Taylor (and Zach)!!

7 comments:

Dan - Israeli Uncensored News said...

A curious perspective, indeed. I agree with you, this looks like a full-fledged betrothal.

YF said...

If one of the eidim in a "kat" (group) of eidim is posul, it posels the whole kat. There were many entire families there, which means relatives were eidim together. That's why, at many chupahs, we are makpid that the chassan points to (or appoints) two people and says "atam edai ve-lo acheirim" (you are my witnesses and not others) or we announce the eidim and say "to the exclusion of all others." In this case, no such statement was made, so it's hard to say that large group qualified as kosher eidim.

In addition, there is a need for da'at koneh and da'at makneh. I doubt there was any in this case.

I am not advocating these public proposals (I understand the arguments of tzniut issues or doing non-Jewish things, etc.), but having learned the sugyas, I am not convinced there is even chashash kiddushin here.

Yechezkel said...

>>If one of the eidim in a "kat" (group) of eidim is posul, it posels the whole kat. There were many entire families there, which means relatives were eidim together.

This applies to maasei beis din – monetary or corporal judgments and a group only becomes a “kat” when they show up to Beis din (or if they give hasra’ah – see Mishna Makkos 6a). Kiddushin is a “challos” and not a maaseh beis din, so this will not necessarily apply. See Rambam Hilchos Ishus 3:8 and the Magid Mishna

>>That's why, at many chupahs, we are makpid that the chassan points to (or appoints) two people and says "atam edai ve-lo acheirim" (you are my witnesses and not others) or we announce the eidim and say "to the exclusion of all others." In this case, no such statement was made, so it's hard to say that large group qualified as kosher eidim.

Do you mean to say at a wedding where this was not done there is no kiddushin d’oraisa? Usually the chosson and kallah’s parents are standing right there! This is actually a “Brisker chumra” and, according to aforementioned Rambam – a minhag shtuss.

>>In addition, there is a need for da'at koneh and da'at makneh. I doubt there was any in this case.

There was much more daas than when there is a make believe play (like what once happened at a co-ed Bnei Akiva camp in Wisconsin) or “kiddushei tzchok”. Yet, these sh’eilos come up all the time and are taken very seriously.

>>I am not advocating these public proposals (I understand the arguments of tzniut issues or doing non-Jewish things, etc.), but having learned the sugyas, I am not convinced there is even chashash kiddushin here.

Rav Nissan Kaplan agreed with you. Harav Yitzchok Mordechai HaCohen Rubin, Rav Ephraim Poliakov, Rav Eliahu Feldman (son of Rav Aharon Feldman of Baltimore) and most other (albeit lesser) scholars that I discussed this with agree with me.

hubscubs said...

i see that you have consulted with some of the aformentioned rabbanim regarding your hypothesis. did you consult with them whether they deemed it proper for you to besmirch the new happy couple? to publicly discuss: a) their willingness to do things the "goyish" way and more importantly b)the likelihood or lack thereof of breaking off the engagement, seems like a violation of privacy if you ask me.

did you ask the couple's permission to blog about this in this fashion?

a response of "they did it in such a public fashion that they're asking for public attention/comments" would not fly with hilchot lashon hara.

my own two cents on the matter is that aside from "daas", the engagement ring is not for the purposes of kiddushin, neither said outright nor b'"Tzchok" like the example you gave. as a professional in the diamond industry, you of everyone should be well aware that "will you marry me?" with a diamond ring is not even close to "haarei at mekudeshet li".

finally, why is it acceptable to you and the professional in your industry to embrace the "minhag" of jewish chattanim to buy diamond rings, but not the other "goyish" customs of carrying over the threshhold or employing romance at an engagement?

hubscubs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Milhouse said...

If you look at the true history of the goyisher minhag of the diamond engagement ring, you will be appalled, and certainly agree that it is not appropriate for kosher Jews. I won't go into details in a public forum, but it implies certain things that we should hope are neither happening nor intended.

There are presents that are appropriate between chosson and kalloh, but a ring, and especially a diamond one, is not one of them. If she davka wants one, give it to her after the wedding.

Mikewind Dale said...

I see the question you raise, and it's an interesting one.

However, I would think that it is obvious that the couple doesn't intend to do a real engagement, erusin.

Everyone knows that this engagement is just an engagement to be halakhically engaged, arus.

Devarim she'ba'lev einam devarim, aval devarim she'ba'lev kol adam yeshnam devarim.

In this case, the devarim are devarim that are ABSENT from the heart of everyone.