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I always heard that a Chasan and Kallah should not meet with each other for a week before the wedding. I was recently told that there is no source for this concept and that it is completely permitted to do so. Can you please clarify this for me
While it is true that there is no letter of the law prohibition against a Chasan and Kallah meeting each other the week before the wedding, nonetheless, the age-old custom is to avoid doing so, and so is the official Chabad custom as recorded in Sefer Haminhagim.
Explanation: The age-old custom of many generations used to be that the Chasan and Kallah would not meet each other at all between the engagement and wedding, and so is followed until this very day among some sects of Orthodox Jewry, especially amongst Chassidic sects. With time, the custom in many circles became to permit for the Chasan and Kallah to meet with each other before the wedding, up until the week before the wedding, by which they would not meet at all, and so is the current Chabad custom, as stated above. [Accordingly, the question should not be as to what is the basis for not meeting the week before the wedding, but rather what is the basis for changing from the age-old custom of meeting at all between the engagement and wedding.]
Now as to the reason behind the custom of not meeting at all between the engagement and wedding, this is mainly due to reasons of modesty, and to prevent forbidden activity that is contrary to Jewish law from taking place. As for why the week of the wedding contains an even greater restriction several reasons have been offered:
- When meeting very close to the wedding there is greater worry that forbidden intimate speech or action, or forbidden thought, may occur.
- A Kallah must count seven clean days and immerse herself before the wedding due to Dam Chimud, and meeting so close to the wedding can cause Dam Chimud to come.
- The Gemara [Nidda 31b] states that the reason the Torah says a woman should be separated from her husband for seven days when she menstruates is in order so should be beloved to her husband like the day she entered the Chuppah. Hence, we likewise have an extra separation the week before the wedding in order to enhance the longing and desire to meet with the Kallah on the day of the wedding.
Sources: See regarding the custom to not meet each other at all between the engagement and wedding: Radak Bereishis 24:5; Maharashdam E.H. 31; Mahram Chagiz Eileh Hamitzvos Mitzvah 552; Meil Tzedaka 19; Yifei Laleiv E.H. 9:68; Pela Yoeitz Kalaha; Bris Kehuna E.H. 5:2; Shoel Venishal E.H. 5:2; Nefesh Chayah Mareches Ches 11; Nitei Gavriel Shidduchim 43:1 and 17 footnote 1 See regarding the custom to not meet each other the week before the wedding: Nefesh Chayah Mareches Ches 11 that so is Minhag Ashkenazim [while Sephardim don’t meet at all between the engagement and wedding]; Maaseh Nissim Y.D. 197; Sefer Haminhagim p. 75 “On the week before the wedding the bride and groom abstain from seeing each other even during the day”; Shulchan Menachem 6:185; Shevach Nissuin 3; Nitei Gavriel Shidduchim 43:17; Emes Leyaakov E.H. 65; Orchos Rabbeinu 4:248; Taharas Habayis 1:482