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When a baby boy has his Bris we wish him "K'shaim Shenichnas L'Bris Kain Yikones L'Torah L'Chupa U'Lmaasim Tovim" - just like you entered the covenant so to should you enter into Torah, marriage, and good deeds. Should not Maasim Tovim be prior to Torah and Chupa? (Derech Eretz Kodma L'Torah)

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Then you could make a case for torah being first, as it leads to ma'asim tovim. –  Monica Cellio Dec 2 '12 at 15:18
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Most things have a significance, and are not just made in the order of sounding good. Attending a Bris recently this struck me as out of order and thus the question. –  Gershon Gold Dec 2 '12 at 15:24
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@GershonGold What about the thousands of piyutim which are written specifically to rhyme (=sound good)? –  Double AA Dec 2 '12 at 15:26
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@DoubleAA: This does not rhyme. Do you know of something that is written without a rhyme just to sound good? –  Gershon Gold Dec 2 '12 at 15:28
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I have no source or answer at the moment, yet I would believe there is a purpose to this specific order. Perhaps I am wrong and it was only written this way to sound good. I would appreciate that answer if it is sourced. –  Gershon Gold Dec 2 '12 at 15:31

3 Answers 3

The Lubavitcher Rebbe explained the following (Toras Menachem Chelek Daled pg. 212, see also Iggros Kodesh Chelek Hey pg. 99):

It is known (Zohar Chelek Gimmel 257b, see Tur Orach Chaim end of Siman 417) that the three Avos correspond to the three festivals: Avraham, who characterized kindness, corresponds to the festival of Pesach when Hashem "passed over" the houses of the Jews and did not smite us. Yitzchok is the idea of severity, and the Torah was given on Shavuos "Mipi Hagevura", and Yaakov whose idea was Torah signifies the holiday of Sukkos (as Torah creates a "shade"- sukkah - for the soul).

We can similarly connect these three concepts to the three blessings of "Torah", "Chuppah" and "Massim Tovim". Avraham - kindness and charity - is "Massim Tovim". Yitzchok who is connected to Shavous, the marriage day between Hashem and the Jewish people, corresponds to "Chuppa", and Yaakov is the idea of "Torah".

In our personal G-dly service we need to emulate the actions of the three forefathers and thus must incorporate these three ideas. However, the balancing act between kindness and severity is often difficult - too much kindness can be inappropriate as can too much harshness. We balance the two by preceding the Chesed with Gevurah insuring that the kindness is directed to the proper channels. Thus the ideal order is to base ones actions on the directive of "Torah", which instructs us how and when to have the idea of "Chuppah" (Gevura) first, and then "Massim Tovim" (Chesed).


Alternatively, Likkutey Levi Yitzchok (Ha'aros to Sefer Hazohar, Breishis pg. 60, written by R' Levi Yitzchok Shnuerson, father of the Lubavitcher Rebbe) explains that Bris Milah corresponds to Rosh Hashana (a central theme of Rosh Hashana is the Zichronos of the "bris" between the Jewish people and Hashem commemorated by the blowing of the Shofar [see there for more connections between Rosh Hashana and Milah]). "Torah" corresponds to Yom Kippur when the second Luchos were given. The schach of Sukkos resembles the "Chuppah", and "Maasim Tovim" corresponds to Shmini Atzeres (he does not explain why).

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Likkuti Basar Likkuti (Agodas Hashas to Shabbos 137b) brings the following explanation from the author of "Iyun Menachem":

The Gemora (Kiddushin 29b) brings R' Yehuda in the name of Shmuel that one should marry first and then learn Torah, to which R' Yehuda responds that one is not able to learn Torah with the yoke of supporting his family. From this it is evident that before marriage it is easier to involve oneself in "Maasim Tovim" for then he has free time to learn Torah, and Chazal say (Kiddush 30) that "I created the Yetzer Horah, and I created the Torah as an antidote. If you involve yourselves in Torah you will not be given over to it." Since the obstacle to "Maasim Tovim" is the Yetzer Horah, and before marriage he had the Torah to protect him it was not so difficult to practise "Massim Tovim". However, after one gets married and assumes the yoke of supporting his family he is now susceptible to the Yetzer Horah who attempts to stop him from performing good deeds and he no longer has Torah to help. We therefore bless him that even after he gets married he should continue to do "Massim Tovim" despite the new difficulties.

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Shaalos U'Teshuvos Atzei Broshim Siman 57 brings in the name of the Avudram and also in the Bais Yosef Yoreh Deah 265 that a parent has a Chiyuv to teach a child Torah and to make their Chuppa, and then it is the childs responsibility to do Maasim Tovim.

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The Avudraham's point is that you aren't obligated in punishments until 20 which is after 18 when we expect you got married. I guess you don't need to do good deeds until you are threatened with punishment? –  Double AA Dec 2 '12 at 15:51

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