Wedding During the Days of the ‘Omer

Q: Dear Rabbi,

I plan to get married on Wednesday 28 May (43 Omer). I understand that for Sepharadim it’s okay to get married on the 34th day of the Omer and subsequently, but Ashkenazim can get married on Lag (33) B’Omer, or if not, they have to wait until Rosh Hodesh Sivan (i.e., Omer 45). Where does the difference come from and also can Ashkenazim attend the wedding of a Sepharadi person before Rosh Hodesh Sivan?

Many thanks for your help. And I hope you are coming to my wedding in France!



A: Dear Gabriel

Mazal tov on your upcoming wedding.

The principal minhag is not to have weddings during the 7 weeks of counting of the ‘Omer. However many observe this restriction only until the 33rd day: Lag B’Omer. As you correctly note, the custom among Sephardim is to allow weddings only from the following day, i.e. from daylight on the 34th of the ‘Omer. (The reason for this is that the Shulkhan ‘Arukh is apparently of the view that the plague which ravaged the disciples of Rabbi Akiva tapered off on the 33rd but did not stop until the 34th.)

Nevertheless, there are some Ashkenazic communities who observe a restriction on weddings throughout the entire month of Iyar (from 2 Iyar onward), ie allowing weddings until Rosh Hodesh Iyar and then only from Rosh Hodesh Sivan. The reason for this would seem to be as a remembrance of the massacres of the First Crusade (1096) and subsequently, many of which took place during the month of Iyar. Although they (tragically) continued into Sivan (eg 20 Sivan was proclaimed as a Fast by Rabbenu Tam [grandson of Rashi and greatest of the Tosafists] following the Blood Libel of Blois), since Sivan is the month of receiving the Torah and the festival of Shavuot, the restriction was not extended beyond the days of Iyar.

By the way, although this is the custom in the United Synagogue in Britain, this restriction is not universal within Ashkenaz either. I have conducted weddings in the days after Lag B’Omer (in accordance with the opinion of Rav Moshe Feinstein and others).

Insofar as your question about the permissibility of attending a wedding during those days when one’s personal or communal minhag is to forbid them: This is definitely allowed. So there is every reason to hope that your family and friends will be there in force to dance at your wedding.

Rabbi Simon