Question: [Tuesday, 10th Sivan, 5782]
I am getting married next week and would like to use a special silver cup that is a family heirloom for the blessings that are said under the Chuppah. The cup was inherited from my great grandfather who was a Holocaust survivor and who himself received it from his parents as a gift. We have a family tradition to use this cup for all of our family weddings. However, the local Chabad Shliach Rabbi who was asked to officiate by the wedding said that we must use a glass cup, as the same cup that we use for the chuppah needs to be the one that is then broken by me, the Chassan. No issue was ever made by other family weddings [including Chabad!] and we simply used another glass cup to break. My family including my elderly grandparents would be extremely pained if this cup was not used. What should we do?
If you yourself are not Chabad, meaning that you are not particular to follow all Chabad customs, then you may continue to follow your family tradition to use the silver cup for the blessings under the chuppah, and use a separate glass cup for the breaking at the conclusion of the Chuppah, and this indeed is the custom of the world to use a separate cup for the breaking as recorded in many Poskim.
If, however, you do follow Chabad custom for everything, then it is indeed our custom to use a glass cup for the blessings under the Chuppah, and then break it, as recorded also in the Rishonim and Poskim. Nonetheless, if the matter means very much to you and your family I would say that you can choose to follow your tradition in this matter, as is the tradition of the world to use a separate glass cup for the breaking. In addition, I can offer the following two alternatives as a compromise: 1) buy a small glass cup of a Revius in size which you will fit inside the silver Becher and fill up the silver cup to the top with wine and then when you are done take out the glass cup and break it. 2) Use the glass cup for the blessing of the Eirusin, and the silver cup for the blessing of the Nissuin.
Whatever you choose it should be with the agreement of the families, and the main thing is that it should not lead to any friction and hence the most peaceful solution should be chosen, as peace is of greater importance than a matter that is just a stringency or custom, and whatever you choose is Halachically valid and has basis in the Poskim. As for the officiating rabbi’s opinion, I would humbly suggest for him to leave this decision to you and to not get involved being that both approaches follow Halacha.
It is an old tradition dating back to the times of the Ashkenazi Rishonim, and based on the Talmud, to break a cup during the time of the Chuppah. This tradition is recorded in the Rama in the Shulchan Aruch in both Orach Chaim and Even Haezer. This practice is likewise followed by many Sephardim and has been recorded in a number of leading Sephardi Poskim. We find however various discrepancies regarding this custom.
Number one, regarding its reason, we find a variety of opinions and explanation in the Rishonim with some holding that it is to commemorate the destruction of the temple, and others holding that it is in order to give the side of severities their fair share, and others holding that it is done in order to distract from being over joyous so it not lead to frivolous behavior.
Number two regarding the material cup to be broken, and if it should be of glass or earthenware, although practically the Poskim conclude that it is to be of glass as is recorded in the vast majority of the Rishonim, and so is the custom of the world.
Number three, there is a discussion regarding which cup to break: You see, in previous times the vast majority of Rishonim record the custom of taking two separate cups for these blessings, one cup for the blessings of the Eirusin, and a 2nd cup for the blessings of the Nissuin [i.e. Sheva Brachos] and so is likewise the implied ruling of the Rama in E.H. According to this custom of using two separate cups, some Rishonim and Poskim record that one should specifically break the Eirusin cup, and not the Nissuin cup, stating that it is a bad omen to break the Nissuin cup. However, other Rishonim record that one is to break specifically the Nissuin cup. Both of these customs are recorded in the Rama in Even Haezer. A further discussion amongst these opinions is regarding if the cup should be broken between the Eirusin and Nissuin or only after the Nissuin, with some siding like the former approach and some like the latter approach. Here too, both approaches are recorded in the Rama. A minority of Rishonim however record the custom to use one cup for both sets of blessings. Furthermore, they record that one should use this cup for the breaking, and hence it is broken after the Chuppah as is indeed the Chabad custom today as recorded in Sefer Haminhagim. Nonetheless, some Achronim rule that when using the same cup for both sets of blessings then one should specifically use a different cup for the breaking, and not break the cup of the Nissuin, and they record that so is the custom, and so indeed is the custom of the world today.
Based on all this it is understood that both the custom of using a separate cup for the breaking and using the same cup for the breaking have a root in Halacha, and it is simply a matter of community Minhag. Accordingly, we concluded that in mitigating circumstances, and especially for the sake of not offending other family members by not using the family heirloom cup, one may choose to swerve from his accepted custom, following the great rule recorded in Shulchan Aruch that so great is peace that we nullify a custom and stringency for its sake. This is all in addition to the fact that it is implied from the talks of the Rebbe that even in Chabad it was not always the custom to use the same cup, and that specifically by the wedding of the daughter of the Rebbe Rayatz the same cup was used. The basis of the first compromise, is an explicit ruling in the Poskim that there is no issue with placing an item in your kiddush cup when you make kiddush. The basis for the second compromise is the explicit custom recorded in many of the Rishonim, and the second custom in the Rama, to use two separate cups for the Eirusin and Nissuin and then break the cup of the Eirusin.
Sources: See Nitei Gavriel Nissuin 36; Chikrei Minhaim Gurary p. 281; Koveitz Or Yisrael 52 p. 147 See regarding the general custom of breaking a cup under the Chuppah: Rama O.C. 560:2; E.H. 65:3; Brachos 31a; Tosafos Brachos 31a; Kol Bo 62; Shulchan Gavoa 560:5 and Kaf Hachaim 560:21 that so is custom of all; Ben Ish Chaiy Shoftim 1:11; Aruch Hashulchan 560:2; Yalkut Yosef Sova Semachos p. 86; Rav Yaakov Yosef; See however Or Letziyon 3:277 who protests the fact the Sephardim do not keep this custom; See regarding its reason: Many Rishonim in Koveitz Or Yisrael 52; See regarding using a glass cup for this purpose: Avnei Shoham 51; P”M 560 M”Z 4; Shaareiy Teshuvah 560:3; Moed Lekol Chaiy 10:96; Kaf Hachaim 560:21; Poskim in Nitei Gavriel Nissuin 36 footnote 5; See regarding using the cup that was used for the blessings under the Chuppah for this purpose: Rama E.H. 65:3 “the custom in these provinces is to break the vessel which the blessings of Eirusin were said over”; Kol Bo 62 [cup of Eirusin]; Machzor Vitri and Haorah 2:79 of Rashi [same cup of Eirusin and Nissuin]; Maharil [break cup of Nissuin]; Maharam Mintz 109 [break cup of Eirusin]; Kneses Haegola E.H. 65; P”M 560 M”Z 4 [If break cup of Eirusin before Sheva Brachos]; Sefer Haminhagim p. 76 [cup of Nissuin, after Sheva Brachos]; Toras Menachem 10:200 in the description of the wedding of Rebbetzin Sheina with Rav MM Hornstein that they used the same cup and not a different cup; Seder Kiddushin Venissuin [Farkash] p. 58; Chikrei Minhaim Gurary p. 281 See regarding using a different cup for this purpose: P”M 560 M”Z 4 [regarding if break after Nissuin]; Rosh Pina E.H. 65:3 “in today’s times we are no longer accustomed to break the original cup used for the blessings, but rather break a different cup “; Shulchan Haezer p. 50; Likkutei Maharich 3 Seder Nissuin 133; Nitei Gavriel Nissuin 36:4 footnote 6 See regarding when to break the cup: After the Sheva Brachos: 1st custom in Rama E.H. 65:3; Kol Bo 62; Maharil; Machzor Vitri; Maharam Mintz 109; P”M 560 M”Z 4; Aruch Hashulchan 65:5; Sefer Haminhagim p. 76; Koveitz Or Yisrael 52 p. 147 that so is custom of London, Amsterdam, Hungary, Bobov, Satmar and Nadvorna; Nitei Gavriel Nissuin 36 footnote 2 Before Sheva Brachos, after Birchas Eirusin: Implication of 2nd custom in Rama E.H. 65:3; Mateh Moshe 3:1-9; Rosh Pina E.H. 65:3 that so is our custom; Ben Ish Chaiy Shoftim 1:11; Koveitz Or Yisrael 52 p. 147 that so is custom in Chernobyl, Vizhnitz, Tzanz, Munkatzh; Nitei Gavriel Nissuin 36 footnote 3; See regarding using two different cups for the Eirusin and Nissuin: Implication of Rama ibid; Maharil ibid; Minhagei Mahrahm Merothenberg; Maharam Mintz ibid; Kneses Hagedola ibid See regarding using the same cup for the Eirusin and Nissuin: Machzor Vitri ibid; See regarding the allowance to place an item in the Kos Shel Bracha: Admur 182:4 that there is no need for the cup to be filled 100% with actual wine and one may enter an item to take up volume for it to reach the top; Ketzos Hashulchan 46:5; M”B 182:19 and 32; Piskeiy Teshuvos 183:5; See regarding that one may compromise on a mere custom for the sake of peace: Admur 468:14; See Igros Kodesh 14:391 regarding Nussach of Davening; 5:91; 16:12 and 99; 19:249 regarding wearing a Tallis as Chazan