Lemaan Yilmedu’s Chuppa VeKiddushin course has trained many Shluchim in the intricacies of officiating a wedding kehalacha. The course, which runs over a 11-month period, is led by Rabbi Mordechai Farkash, a Rov and Shliach in Bellevue, Wash., and an expert in this area of Halacha.
Graduates are certified by Rabbi David Lau and other prominent rabbonim, making any wedding they conduct recognized by the Israeli Rabbanut and rabbinic authorities worldwide.
We spoke with Rabbi Farkash to learn more about the course, and with alumni Rabbis Yosef Rice of Palm Beach, Fla., and Rabbi Laivi Forta of Chabad of Aventura, Fla.
Q. Who is this course for?
Rabbi Yosef Rice: I think this course should be mandatory for anyone who wants to officiate a wedding. From this class, you learn that you really can’t take these things lightly.
Q. Does learning these halachos really need to take a year? Isn’t reading a practical sefer on it sufficient?
Rabbi Mordechai Farkash: In general, you cannot compare methodically learning the material from the original sources in Gemara and Poskim to using a contemporary sefer that summarizes the practical rulings.
Such a sefer gives you the bottom line, but it also references the sources. After you learn the material from the sources, then you can understand and internalize the practical rulings.
A Shliach must give himself the opportunity to learn the subject from the Shulchan Aruch and Poskim. The Poskim warn that one cannot Pasken from sifrei kitzurim.
Q. What does the course cover?
Rabbi Mordechai Farkash: We will cover a number of subjects—which is why it takes a year.
Let’s break it down, starting with the shtar kesubah: What does the shtar mean? What is the amount the Chosson owes the Kallah? What is the difference between those three sums? How does the amount vary according to the Kallah’s status?
How did the kesubah develop into what it is today? What was it in the Gemarah and what was added later? All this is part of the fundamentals of the sugya.
We will learn how the shtar must be written in a way that avoids potential forgery, how the shtar must end, where the witnesses sign. How do you correct mistakes in a shtar?
Now comes Kiddushin: What happens if the ring belongs to someone else? What if the statement of “Harei At” wasn’t said properly?
We will spend several weeks learning about who can be a proper witness—many Shluchim are living in communities where kosher eidim are a commodity. We also cover all the halachos and minhagim surrounding the wedding.
Q. What are some of the pitfalls that can occur if one isn’t proficient in the Halachos?
Rabbi Mordechai Farkash: The Shliach must verify that both parties are Jewish. Now, even if they are, can they marry each other? This is the next subject we cover. I don’t want to focus on the negative, but if a Shliach wasn’t aware or didn’t ask the right questions properly, he can end up marrying a Kohen to a woman he wasn’t allowed to marry. You can end up chas ve’shalom marrying a non-Jew.
Rabbi Yosef Rice: It can happen that you’re at the wedding in front of a big crowd and you make a mistake. For example, you get the order of the brochos wrong. Are you going to go back? Are you going to call a Rov to ask a shayla? You need to know on the spot what to do.
Q. How did participating in the course help your Shlichus?
Rabbi Laivi Forta: I’ve been doing weddings for 20 years, about 15 per year. There are many seforim on the subject, but to have a Rov like Rabbi Farkash available to you, almost one-on-one for an entire year straight, is priceless.
For me personally—I’m very busy; we’re all very busy. This was an opportunity to schedule something to learn for myself. I teach a lot, but that isn’t personal learning. It was a big commitment to spend devote two consecutive hours per week joining the shiurim, but it was a very worthwhile course.
Rabbi Yosef Rice: Passing the tests gave me a certificate, which is important. And the course incentivized learning Torah be’iyun, it gave me tests and a structure. The course also taught me that you can’t take these things lightly. It saves you a lot of stress and agony when you know what to look for, what questions to ask, and when to ask a Rov.
This week, Machon Lemaan Yilmedu's first cohort of "Seder Nashim," an in-depth halacha learning program for women, began with over forty women.
At Machon Lemaan Yilmedu the days of sefira were used by dozens of chassanim who participated in the special program for chassanim that prepares them for the wedding and beyond, establishing a Jewish home.
Over sixty men participated in another exam given by the Lemaan Yilmedu semicha program. Rabbi Gedalia Oberlander, rav of the Chabad shul and community "Heichal Menachem" in Monsey conducted the test.