Adapted from the writings of Dayan Yitzhak Grossman February 22, 2024 In secular American society,…
Excerpted and adapted from a shiur by HaRav Chaim Weg
October 1, 2021
And Hashem Elokim built the side that He had taken from the man into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
The Shulchan Aruch (E.H. 34:2) writes that the prevalent custom is to recite the birkas eirusin under the chupah over wine, so first hagafen is recited and then birkas eirusin. The P’nei Yehoshua (cited by the Pis’chei Teshuvah, E.H. 34:5) questioned the custom in his time that only the chasan and kallah drank the wine: A person can generally only fulfill another’s obligation for a birkas hamitzvah, not a birkas hanehenin, because neither of them is obligated to consume this food or drink, so no arvus (mutual halachic responsibility) exists (see Rosh Hashanah 28). So how can the mesader kidushin recite the bracha for the chassan and kallah if drinking the wine is a custom but not a mitzvah?
Because of this problem, R’ Chaim Soloveitchik suggested that the mesader kidushin spill some wine on his hand and then drink it from his hand. Others, like the Afikei Yam, hold that he should indeed drink some of the wine from the cup before handing it over.
Perhaps the justification of the custom is that the customary hagafen is still considered a birkas hamitzvah even if there is no absolute chiyuv to drink it. A bris milah is also customarily accompanied by wine, and a person other than the mevarech sometimes drinks it (e.g., on a fast day, when a child or the mother drinks it).