It may be a bit shocking, but the Marriage Foundation has studied the issue extensively and has determined that, statistically, 31% of second marriages fail. That is not what is surprising, however. The surprising statistic is that 45% of first marriages end in divorce. Thus, second marriages are actually more stable and successful than first marriages.
This comes as a surprise to most people. This is not the only thing that is not so well-known about second marriages. Many people are also unfamiliar with their halachos as well. With this in mind, it may be prudent to study the halachos of the second wedding.
Forbidden to Remain Single
It is forbidden for a man to remain single, even if he has already performed the mitzvah of pru urvu. This halacha is based upon the Gemara in Yevamos 61b and is codified in Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 1:8). The Gemara tells us of an additional mitzvah to the one of being fruitful and multiplying. It is based on the verse: “In the evening, do not let your hand rest.”
Ideally, if it is feasible, a man should marry a woman who is still capable of having children (Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer 1:8 and Yevamos 62b). If he himself is aware, however, that he is incapable of fathering children, he should look to marry a woman who is not capable of having children as well (Ramah Even HaEzer 1:8).
There are four exceptions to this halacha, however.
If he has already fulfilled the mitzvah of pru urvu (one boy and one girl), and he is studying Torah and is concerned that remarriage would take away from his study he may remain single. This is only true, however, if his yetzer harah does not overtake him (Chochmas Adam 123:4).
If a person is older and is certain that his yetzer harah no longer controls him (Aruch HaShulchan 1:7).
If a person has physical or medical conditions that would prevent him from marriage (Aruch HaShulchan 1:7).
If a person does not have the means to support a wife (Aruch HaShulchan 1:7).
There is also a mitzvah upon a woman to be married, as well (Ramah Even HaEzer 1:10). The mitzvah is not as strong as it is for a man, however. Indeed, the mitzvah for a woman to remarry is even if she has a son and daughter already (Taz 1:2).
Paying for the Wedding
Generally speaking, there is an obligation for a parent to marry off his son and daughter. For a second marriage, however, there is no such obligation (Aizer MiKodesh, Siman 1). The financial costs are borne by the couple themselves. If they cannot afford it, the community should donate particularly if the bride is an orphan.
The Talmud Yerushalmi (Kesuvos 1:1) states that Moshe Rabbeinu enacted that there should be seven days of rejoicing whenever a wedding takes place. For a second wedding, the rejoicing is for three days (Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer 64:2). If, however, the groom was never married, there is a debate whether the rejoicing is for three days or for seven days. The Chasam Sofer (Even HaEzer 123) rules that it should be done for seven days.
Generally speaking, in order to cheer a bride and groom, we even cease the learning of Torah study. What about ceasing Torah study for a second marriage? Rav Shimon Sopher in his Sefer Hisorerus Teshuvah (Volume III, Number 72) is uncertain in regard to this matter.
The laws of Shana Rishona — that a husband must strive to make his wife especially happy during the first year of marriage — apply to a second marriage as well (Sefer HaChinuch, Number 582 and Gemara Sotah 44a). Thus, the husband should try to stay home with his wife during the first year.
Whenever the groom is present at shul, the Tachanun is not recited for the entire seven days following the wedding (Mishna Berura 131:26).
There is no obligation for the husband to get an aliyah on the Shabbos prior to his wedding (Biur Halacha 137), nor after his wedding. Nonetheless, it is proper to do so as long as he does not set aside other chiyuvim (Shaarei Ephraim 2:6). Candy is not thrown at a groom at the aufruf of a second wedding (Maharil Hilchos Nissuin).
A bride and groom on the day of their second wedding do fast, and the groom wears a kittel (page 312).
When the Wedding Can Be Held
With the exception of someone who is remarrying his ex-wife, the same restrictions on when one may not marry for a first wedding apply to a second marriage as well. When remarrying an ex-wife, the ceremony may transpire during Chol HaMoed (Shulchan Aruch 546:2), sefira, and during the Three Weeks.
Rav Elyashiv, zt”l, ruled that one may never hold a wedding on Isru Chag after Pesach and even if plans were made they should be canceled (Beyadcha Isosai, page 105).
Ideally, the woman should be in a state of taharah when the second marriage is performed. The reason is because what affects the marriage in a second wedding is the yichud, the seclusion that occurs after the chuppah itself. The chuppah ceremony is not what affects the marriage in a second wedding (Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer 64:5). Nonetheless, a blessing can still be recited even though the actual yichud will only take place after several days.
Some have the custom not to print invitations to a second wedding, but rather to perform the wedding in a small and quiet manner — similar to the manner in which the second set of luchos were given (Nitei Gavriel Nissuin, Volume I, page 311)
The Tenaim and Kesubah
There is a debate as to whether the tenaim document is used in a second wedding. The Chsam Sopher did use a tenaim document just like at a first wedding. The Tshuras Shai (Volume II, Siman 150) holds that it is not used, rather just a mere kabbalas abals kinyan is done.
The Kesubah of a widow and divorcee is slightly different from that of a first time bride. For a second wedding, the amount filled in the Kesubah is 100 zuz, as opposed to the 200 zuz in a first time wedding.
The Ceremony Itself
At the badeken, the custom is that others place the veil upon the face of the bride and not the groom (Shulchan HaAizer page 26). Others are of the opinion that the veil is not placed over the Kallah at all (Aruch HaShulchan 55:24).
The chuppah ceremony is performed indoors and not under the sky or under a skylight (Pischei Teshuvah Even HaEzer 62:1) as in a first wedding. However, if the groom was never married, the ceremony is performed under the sky.
It is the custom for sons and daughters of either the groom or the bride not to attend the wedding (Minhag Wormes, page 51). It is questionable what the halacha is in regard to grandchildren.
Rice is not thrown, nor are the chosson and kallah accompanied with live music. There is no obligation to dance before the bride as well.
There is a debate as to whether the Kesubah is read aloud under the chuppah when a widower or widow is involved (Zechor L’Avrohom, Number2 discourages it, Shulchan Aizer Volume II, page 45 states that it should be read). The minhag is to read it however.
The dancing at a second wedding should not be as exuberant as at a first wedding (see inference in Rashi, Kesuvos 16b: “Sh’rakdu lefaneha”).
It should be noted, however, that the mitzvah of “v’ahavta l’rayacha kamocha,” applies equally to a second wedding and everything should be done to make them feel happy and to help them recognize the miracles of how Hashem is mezaveg zivugim.
By Rabbi Yair Hoffman
The author can be reached at [email protected]