Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Double-ring ceremony - prohibited by Rav Moshe Feinstein זצ''ל

Sydney Rabbi writes:
I am surprised that none of my Melbourne colleagues knows of the Tshuva by Rav Moshe Feinstein ז''ל where he clearly and unambiguously writes that it is assur for the bride to give the groom a ring under the Chuppah. They should look it up themselves in Igros Moshe, Even HaEzer vol 3, siman 18.


  1. This Sydney so-called rabbi seriously misrepresents the teshuvah. Read it yourself, carefully and without an agenda, and you will see what I mean.

  2. Milhouse, which part of 'assur lasos kein beshaas chuppah' don't you undertsnad?

  3. Read the teshuvah; the whole teshuvah, not just the words you like. What does "kein" refer to?

  4. Milhouse, can you be a little more explicit? I don't see anything ambiguous about the teshuvah, and I also don't know what you're referring to by "kein".

  5. I'm not not a rabbi, although not a rabbi, but it does seem to me that RMF is talking about any transfer of a ring from the kallah to the chatan under the chupah.

  6. He's very explicitly not talking about any transfer of a ring. He makes it very clear what he's objecting to, and it's not the ring transfer. Read it again, without any preconceptions, and keep reading it until you see what I'm talking about. This is not some obscure diyyuk, the words are right there in the text and it's beyond me how you could miss them.

  7. I read it again (and again) and that is exacty what he talking about. That the giving of a ring by bride to groom is assur. R" Feinstein write it not once - but FOUR times.

    Milhouse normally you make sense. But I don't know what happened to you here.

  8. Milhouse, I keep reading it the same way. The first paragraph says that a marriage involving the transfer of a ring from a man to a woman for the purpose of marriage is effective even if it's conditioned explicitly on an exchange of the ring.

    The second paragraph says that it's forbidden to exchange rings, because it's inconsistent with the Torah and it's a non-Jewish practice.

    The third paragraph says it's forbidden even if she gives him a ring without a declaration, even if it's outside the chupah but nearby, because it's similar to the gezeirah against rinsing oneself after using a mikvah: you don't want people to think that the rinse is part of the taharah. This is analogous to our case - but it's worse, because people may come to think that women can instigate a valid marriage. Even though no beis din has actually forbidden this practice, anything that can have this perverse result is forbidden.

    Fourth paragraph: the big problem with this is that people will come to forget what the law actually is. There are often cases where we could use, e.g., a beis din's authority to smooth away an awkward situation by making it appear that the law is other than what it is. However, since this would lead to the true law being forgotten it is forbidden. In this case it would make people think that you need an exchange of rings to conduct a marriage, and this potential confusion means that an exchange of rings is forbidden.

    Milhouse - do you dispute my understanding of this ruling? I'm personally surprised that RMF expressed himself so forcefully, but the ruling is what it is.

  9. Commenter Moshe, Reb Moshe does NOT say "that the giving of a ring by bride to groom is assur". He doesn't say it four times, he doesn't even say it once. It is simply a sheker. If you saw that in the teshuvah then you need glasses. He is very clear in specifying what he is talking about, and indeed he repeats it four times, so it's astounding to me that you could miss it. Joe, the same goes for you: read the teshuvah, honestly and carefully, without inserting your own agenda. Just take the words for what they say, and don't leave any of them out because they don't accord with your preconceptions. It couldn't be clearer.

    The topic of the teshuvah is not "an exchange of rings" but "a woman purporting to be mekadesh a man". We know that such a thing is legally impossible; she can pretend all she likes, but it will have no effect. As Reb Moshe says, it's not even harmful; it's simply nothing. So there could be a sevara to allow it: let them do whatever they like, and think whatever they like, and we can laugh at them for being so foolish.

    But Reb Moshe says that if we allow them to go through with such a ritual, they will naturally think that it does have effect, and that it is possible for a woman to be mekadesh a man. And that, says Reb Moshe, is itself a harm that we must avoid, even if it has no practical implications whatsoever. We must not allow people to form the impression that kiddushin can take effect in such a way.

    None of this, however, has anything to do with an exchange of rings, or with her giving him a ring, for some purpose other than kiddushin. Reb Moshe in this teshuvah neither forbids nor permits such a practise, because he simply never considers it.


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