Can one celebrate two mitzvos with one meal? This year, as Purim falls on Shabbos, can the Shabbos seudah also be counted as a Purim seudah? Can a wedding banquet be combined with the Shabbos or Yom Tov meal? How does one fulfill the obligation of eating a special meal on Rosh Chodesh when it falls on Shabbos, and can one hold a single wedding celebration for two couples? What about a single Bris for two babies or a single Bar Mitzva for two boys? Which celebrations can be held on a holiday and Chol Hamoed, and which on Shabbos? Is there any difference between Shabbos and Chol Hamoed in this respect? Can a wedding be celebrated on Purim? Of this, and more, in the coming article.
Ein Mearvin Simcha B’simcha
The Mishna (Moed Katan, 8b) writes: “One may not marry a woman on the intermediate days of a festival (Chol Hamoed), not virgins and not widows, and one may not perform levirate marriage with his sister-in-law if his brother died childless, because it is a joyous occasion for him. However, one may remarry his divorced wife on the intermediate days of a festival, as this is not as great a joy for him.”
The Gemara offers several reasons why the fact that a wedding is a simcha is a reason to forbid marriage during the holiday:
According to Rabbi Chanina, it is because of the prohibition of “mixing simchos”. Rashi explains the prohibition: there is an obligation to rejoice with every mitzva separately.
According to Rav, the prohibition is because the joy of marriage will cause one to neglect the simcha of the festival and goes against the Torah’s command of: “You shall rejoice in your festival” (Devarim 16:14) which implies an exclusion of other rejoicing such as taking “joy with your new wife.”
Ula refers to the basic restriction of work on Chol Hamo’ed: since a Jew will be so concerned with properly preparing for the great simcha of his wedding, he is bound to invest a great deal of work. Such a strenuous effort is prohibited on Chol Hamo’ed.
Rabbi Yitzchak completes the list of explanations by pointing out that since getting married is such an occasion of simcha, a Jew will be tempted to put off his wedding until the festival when he is free from his work and when he is in a festive mood. Such a delay, postpones the fulfillment of the important mitzvah of marrying and bringing children into the world.
The Gemara (Moed Katan 9a) derives the halacha of not mixing celebrations from the inaugural ceremonies of the first Beis Hamikdash. The building was completed on the 8th of Tishrei, and the pasuk describes the celebrations: “Now Shlomo observed the Feast at that time and all Yisroel with him, a great assemblage from the entrance of Chamat to the brook of Egypt, before the Lord our G-d, seven days and seven days, [totaling] fourteen days.” (Melachim I, 8:65). The Gemara learns from the double mention “seven days and seven days” that even if the inaugural ceremonies had ended on Succos, it still would have been necessary to celebrate seven separate days in honor of the holiday. Combining both celebrations together was not permitted since “one does not mix one simcha with another.”
The Talmud Yerushalmi notes another source for this halacha (Moed Katan 1:7): after Yaakov discovered that Lavan had exchanged Rochel for Leah and demanded to marry Rachel, Lavan told Yaakov, “Complete the [wedding] week of this one [Leah], and we will give you this one [Rachel] too” (Bereshis 29:27). Here we learn not to combine one marriage celebration for two women. This source is mentioned in the Tosefos (Moed Katan 8b) and the Ramabm (Hilchos Ishus, 10:14).
The Tosefos add that this halacha is a d’oraysa: one must celebrate every joyous occasion separately as derived from the pesukim that speak of the inauguration of the Beis Hamikdash or Yaakov’s marriage with Leah and Rachel. The Tosefos add another reason for this halacha: “Ein osim mitzvos chaviolos chaovilos – mitzvos are not packaged together”, one should not look for ways to fulfill several mitzvos at the same time – every mitzva requires separate attention and celebration.
This halacha is ruled by the Rambam (ibid) and Shulchan Aruch (Even Hezer 62:2).
Level of Prohibition
According to the Tosefos (Moed Katan 8b; Kesubos 47a) the deduction of not mixing one simcha with another and rejoicing with the holiday and not with a new wife is d’oraysa. The Magen Avraham (546:4, 696:18) rules accordingly. However, the Rashba (part III, chapter 276) and Beis Yosef (Orech Chayim 546:3) maintain that this is a rabbinic prohibition. Sha’ar Hatziyon (546:2) writes that one who marries before the holiday and postpones the meal to the holiday or one who marries on the holiday and postpones the meal to after the holiday, although forbidden, has transgressed a rabbinic prohibition.
Mixing with Shabbos
The Shita Mekubetzes (Kesubos 7b) quotes the Rambam’s opinion (Hilchos Ishus 10:14) that not mixing celebrations also pertains to combining the Shabbos seudah with other celebrations. However, he disagrees arguing that since there is no mitzva of rejoicing on Shabbos, only honoring and taking pleasure (kavod and oneg), there is no issue of mixing celebrations. Only on holidays is there an explicit mitzva to rejoice. Therefore, only on holidays there is a prohibition to mix celebrations.
Similarly, the Turei Even writes (Chagiga 8b) that on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, whereas there is no mitzva of simcha, mixing celebrations is not prohibited.
Although the Levush (696:8) and the Rama of Pano (78) follow the Rambam that the prohibition of mixing celebrations pertains to Shabbos as well, the Shevus Yaakov (volume III, chapter 31) differs and follows the opinion of the Shita.
Marrying on the Day Before a Holiday
The Shulchan Aruch (646:3) permits marrying right before a holiday and eating the wedding meal on the holiday eve. But the Mishna Brura (footnotes 9, 10) maintains that the custom is not to do so, and if necessary, the wedding should be held during the morning so the first meal after the wedding should be during the day, before the holiday. Then, the next meal, even if it is the main wedding celebration, will be on the holiday. Under extenuating circumstances, one can rely upon the lenient opinions and celebrate a wedding in the afternoon before a holiday, with the wedding meal serving also as the holiday seudah.
Shabbos seems to have a different halachic status in regard to mixing celebrations. According to the Shulchan Aruch (Even Ha’ezer, 64:3) some prohibit marrying on Erev Shabbos to prevent desecration of Shabbos, while most permit it. The accepted custom was to marry on Friday afternoons. The Magen Avraham (footnote 4) writes that although it is forbidden to marry right before a holiday, the accepted custom is to hold the Chuppa on Erev Shabbos, close to sundown.
The Rambam (ibid) forbids marrying on Erev Shabbos, but Hagahos Maimonios notes that the Ra’aviya recorded the accepted custom to marry on Friday afternoon due to takanas aniyim (a halachic enactment to save poor people the expense of the wedding).
According to the Taz (Orech Chayim 546:2) even the meal served to day in honor of signing a wedding agreement (vort, or engagement celebrations) is forbidden on Chol Hamoed. However, the Mishna Brura (footnote 2) notes that the Achronim disagree with the Taz, maintaining that it is permitted on the holiday, especially if only light refreshments are served.
Bris and Pidyon Haben
The Shulchan Aruch (Orech Chayim 646:4) rules that the seudos served in honor of a Bris and Pidyon Haben are permitted on holidays. The Mishna Brura (footnote 11) adds that this is true both if the mitzva occurred on the holiday or if it took place before the holiday and the celebration was postponed till Chol Hamoed. This is because the seudah is not considered a big enough simcha to fall into the category of “ein me’arvin simcha b’simcha“. Only wedding celebrations, which are especially joyous occasions, invoke this prohibition.
Rabbi Meir Arik (Minchas Pitim, Prech Chayim, 546) and the Sdei Chemed (Asifas Dinim, Chol Hamoed, 23) raise a question: in light of the Gemara that mentions that thee Beis Hamikdash’s inauguration was forbidden on the holiday, can one celebrate entering a new house on Chol Hamoed? They both mention a possible difference between the Beis Hamikdash and one’s private home. The Kaf Hachayim (Orech Chayim 546 footnote 19) rules that it is clearly permissible because the joy in a new house in no greater than the joy of celebrating a Bris or Pidyon Haben, which are both permitted on a holiday.
Similarly, other celebrations such as a Siyum or Bar Mitva are permitted on Chol Hamoed, even if the actual Bar Mitzva did not occur on the holiday.
Kiddush Levana on Shabbos and Yom Tov
Kiddush Levana is recited when one is in a buoyant, happy mood. This is the reason why, customarily, Kiddush Levana takes place on Motzei Shabbos when people are still dressed in Shabbos finery and in the Shabbos mode. The Rama of Pano (78) wonders if it wouldn’t be more appropriate to recite Kiddush Levana on Shabbos or Yom Tov eve instead. He goes on to explain the reason it is not done — one doesn’t mix one joyous occasion with another. Kiddush Levana is a joyous occasion of “greeting the Shechina”. Since it is considered a joyous occasion, it is not mixed with the joy of Shabbos or Yom Tov. Shevus Yaakov, however, argues with this opinion and maintains that only a big celebration such as a wedding is forbidden, and Kiddush Levana does not fall into that category. He adds that there is no obligation of rejoicing on Shabbos, only oneg Shabbos, therefore this reason is inapplicable here.
The Rashba (volume III chapter 276) and the Shulchan Aruch (Orech Chayim 696:5) write that holding a wedding on Purim is permitted and only forbidden on a holiday. Since this is a rabbinic prohibition, one can be lenient with it on Purim. The Magen Avraham (footnote 18) writes that this follows their earlier ruling that the halachos of not mixing one simcha with another is d’rabonon. However, since we follow the Tosefos, who maintain that the prohibition to mix celebrations is a Torah prohibition, Purim is no different from other holidays in which celebrations are not mixed. Therefore, if necessary, one should hold the Chuppah on Taanis Ester, and the wedding banquet on Purim night. However, the Mishna Brura (footnote 28) quotes the Sha’arei Teshuva (footnote 12) that the accepted custom is to hold a wedding even on Purim itself, as per the Shulchan Aruch’s opinion. The Mishna Brura adds, though that preferably, one should first eat a proper seudah on Purim and only after fulfilling the obligation of rejoicing on Purim, hold the wedding at the end of the day so the wedding celebrations will not interfere with Purim.
It is interesting to note that Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zatal’s wedding was held in Jerusalem, on Friday of a Purim Meshulash (Halichos Shlomo, chapter 21:9). His speech at his wedding mentioned this topic, explaining why marrying on Purim was permitted: the joy of Purim is “ad delo youda ben baruch Mordechai l’arur Haman” – i.e. a certain degree of joy, not a specific focus. Since the reason for not mixing one simcha with another is because the simcha one has in getting married will make it impossible to single-mindedly focus on the simcha of the festival, this reason does not pertain to Purim.
Combining Wedding Celebrations
The Mishna Brura (546:1) writes that the halacha of not mixing one simcha with another requires not scheduling a wedding on the same day of another simcha obligation. But two people are permitted to celebrate their weddings together. Therefore, one who makes a wedding and wishes to sponsor a wedding for a poor bride on the same day or even in the same venue, is praiseworthy. However, marrying two children on the same occasion is not accepted. The Mishna Brura adds (546, Shaar Hatziyun, footnote 3) that as long as the two are not on the same day there is no concern, even if both weddings are in the same week.
The source for refraining from marrying off two children on the same day is in the Rama (Even Ha’ezer chapter 62:2). There he notes that it is not accepted to marry off two children on the same day for fear that one bride will feel jealous that the other was honored more than she was.
While the above-mentioned Tosefos writes that the reason for not mixing simchos is a gzeira, there is rationale to it: mitzvos should not be combined to allow for showing every mitzva proper attention. The Rishonim (Sota 8a, Rashi, Tosefos; Pesachim 102b, Rashbam) note an additional reason: combining mitzvos together shows disrespect to the mitzvos as it implies that the mitzvos are a heavy burden which one wishes to get rid of in the most cost effective and effort-conserving way.
The Magen Avraham (147:11) writes that the prohibition of “packaging mitzvos together” only applies when one is fully obligated in each mitzva. But if he is not obligated, and serving a meal is just a praiseworthy deed, there is no problem combining several together.
Therefore, the seudos of a Bris, Pidyon Haben, and Siyum, which are not full-obligations but only a custom (albeit proper) carry no prohibition of combining mitzvos. Indeed, many Bar Mitzva boys try to make a siyum on the day of their Bar Mitzva, and their Bar Mitzva celebration serves a siyum as well. However, the seudos on Shabbos, Purim or a wedding which are obligatory, may not be combined with other celebrations.
The Magen Avraham (147:11) writes that if there are two babies who need a Bris – whether they are twins, two children from separate families, or any other scenario (honoring Rav Chayim Kaniyevsky as a Sandek, for example) – both babies should not be brought in and given a Bris together. The Rishonim dispute the nature of this prohibition. According to the Rambam both babies may be brought in at once and the Mohel will give a Bris to the first and then to the second. However, having two Mohalim giving a Bris to two babies at once is forbidden.
Therefore, if the situation presents itself, only after the first baby is brought in and has his Bris should the second be brought in. The meal served afterwards can include both together because the Bris seudah is non-obligatory, and the ban on mixing simchas is not relevant.
Rosh Chodesh on Shabbos
The Mishna Brura writes (419:2) that when Rosh Chodesh falls on Shabbos, one should serve an additional dish at the Shabbos meal in honor of Rosh Chodesh. This is to indicate that the meal is also in honor of Rosh Chodesh. One who forgets to do so, can do so for Melave Malka.
It seems that this is true for all Shabbos meals that include another celebration, such as a Bris, Pidyon Haben or Siyum – one should add an extra dish in honor of the additional celebration.
Purim Seudah on Shabbos
This year, in walled cities, Purim falls on Shabbos. The Shulchan Aruch writes (Orech Chayim 688:6) that when this is the case reading the Megillah and giving Matanos L’evyonim take place on Friday; Al Hanisim and the special Krias HaTorah is on Shabbos; the Purim Seudah and Mishlaoch Manos is on Sunday. The source for this ruling is found in the Yerushalmi (Megillah 1:4): seudos in honor of Rosh Chodesh and Purim may be postponed, but not celebrated in advance. The reason not to eat the seudah on Shabbos is explained in the Yerushalmi: the Megillah writes that the days should be “days of feasting and joy…” (Esther 9:22). The days should be instituted as specific days for feasting and joy, not on a day which is already that. The Levush (697:8) explains this is because of the prohibition of mixing one simcha with another, whereas the Magen Avraham (696:18) is of the opinion that a seudah on Shabbos does not indicate that this is a meal served in honor of the Purim miracle. Therefore, the seudah should be served on Sunday to clearly indicate its status of a Purim Seudah commemorating the miracle our nation experienced.
The Maharalbach (chapter 32), though, opines that the seudah should be served on Shabbos. He explains that the main obligation of instituting the days as days of feasting and rejoicing is to prevent people from fasting and eulogizing on Purim. Therefore, a feast on Shabbos does not contradict this reason, and the Purim seudah may be served on Shabbos.
The Mishna Brura (688:18) presents both opinions, concluding that most Achronim follow the Shulchan Aruch’s ruling that the seudah should take place on Sunday, not on Shabbos. In their opinion since the Gemara does not mention what should be done when Purim falls on Shabbos, halachic ruling follows the Talmud Yerushalmi. However, the Sha’ar Hatziyun (footnote 30) quotes the Pri Chadash’s opinion: one should eat a seudah and deliver Mishlaoch Manos, where feasible, both on Shabbos, and on Sunday in honor of Purim.
The halacha of not mixing celebrations refers only to significant celebrations such as the inauguration of the Beis Hamikdash and a wedding feast. Some add Shabbos and Purim seudos to the list. This ruling does not refer to other joyous celebrations. Therefore, celebrations of a Bris, Pidyon Haben, Rosh Chodesh, Siyum, Bar mitzva, Chanukas Habayis and others can be combined together, as well as with a Shabbos or holiday meal.
Combining obligatory celebrations in honor of several mitzvos is prohibited under the prohibition of “combining mitzvos together”.