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I have been to many weddings where the chassan and kallah hold hands after the chupah on their way to the yichud room. It seems like a widespread (minhag?) thing that everyone does, even by couples that would never be seen touching in public afterwards. This lead me to my question if his is a minhag? Is this discussed anywhere?

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    I know of a custom not to, so as not to embarrass a bride who is a Niddah. – Seth J Jan 15 '13 at 22:19
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    These days anything at a wedding becomes an official minhag. – Double AA Jan 16 '13 at 1:05
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Nitei Gavriel Nisuin1 37 mentions this in the name of Shaalos U'Teshuvos Pri Haadama 3:10, Shaar Hamifakaid Kidushin 16b 12, Klilas Chasanim 10:4, Shulchan HaEzer 8:8:3 (daf 67a). However he mentions that many Gedolim oppose this Minhag based on the Biur Hagra 25:1.

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    Just FTR, that Biur Hagra is just one quoting older midrashim about the importance of being extra tzanua in general, not anything explicit about this custom. Invoking his name here is a little disingenuous IMHO. – Double AA Jan 16 '13 at 17:58
  • @DoubleAA, invoking his name here is fine if that's what the Nit'e Gavriel says. – msh210 Jan 18 '13 at 2:58
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    @msh210 It wasn't a complaint against our trusty green-gravatared transcriber, nor have I downvoted this post. – Double AA Jan 18 '13 at 3:00
  • @DoubleAA, the Nit'e Gavriel's invoking his name is fine if that's what the "many Gedolim" say. – msh210 Jan 18 '13 at 3:12
  • @msh210 Absolutely! If the "many Gedolim" base their entirely stated claim (אכן דעת כמה גדולי דורנו עקב פרצת הדורות להנהיג שהחתן רק ילך עם הכלה וא״צ לאחזה ידו, שעיקר הקנין הוא ע״י שהולך עמה, וכמ״ש בביאור הגר״א סי׳ כ״ה סק״א.) on solely that Beiur HaGra, then there is absolutely nothing disingenuous about the Nit'ei Gavriel's ascribing that to them. – Double AA Jan 18 '13 at 5:58
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The work Edus L'Avraham Sherusa DeTzelusa (which collects customs on weddings, brises, and the like) says "the proper custom is arm-in-arm. Holding hands is for those too meek." Note that this volume leans towards Hassidic customs.

(Personally I certainly understand those concerned about making it clear whether or not the bride is a nidah.)

I'd asked Rabbi Yitzchak Breitowitz about holding hands, he didn't sound crazy about it and said "eh it's a Chassidish custom." Though, may I note, his own son and his bride did hold hands at their wedding a few years later.

Update: Rabbi Hershel Schachter also notes it was common practice in Eastern Europe to hold hands or arms, and some invoked a creatively-literal reading of the verse "should a man take a woman ..." (H/t).

  • I've heard that it is in large due to this custom that many Chassidish communities uses hormonal drugs to prevents "chupas niddah". – Michoel Jan 16 '13 at 2:52
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    @Michoel I imagine there are other stronger reasons to avoid chupas niddah than this. – Double AA Jan 16 '13 at 4:22
  • @DoubleAA Perhaps, but reason and incentive are not the same and not holding hands would be very noticeable and embarrassing (as opposed to slipping on the ring without touching her, not handing her the Kesuba, Yichud room etc.) and the Halachic reasons not necessarily require such measures. – Michoel Jan 16 '13 at 4:26
  • By now, this minhag has become so essential that some will do it even by a chuppas niddah! My Rov has seen it by chassidishe weddings. – Adám Dec 25 '13 at 15:43
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    @NBZ That is ridiculous. If your Rov approved that you should get a new Rov. – Double AA Mar 24 '14 at 16:44
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There are a few sources for the Chassan and Kallah to hold hands (not necessarily between the chuppah and yichud):

R. Elazar of Worms, Sefer Harokeach Hilchos Eirusin V'nissuin # 352

וכשהכלה נכנסת לבא בשער הבית אז החתן הולך שם לקראתה ולוקח ידה ונותן אותה אל המשקוף למעלה יד שערים לפי קרת

And when the bride enters to come in the gate of the house the groom goes to greet her and takes her hand and brings her to the top of the gate by the crossbeam.

R. Jacob Moelin, Maharil Hilchos Nissuin # 2

והחתן תופש אותה בידו ובחיבורן יחד זורקין כל העם על גבי ראשן חטין ואומרים פרו ורבו ג"פ

And the groom grasps her in his hand, and while they are together the whole crowd throws wheat kernels on their heads, saying "peru u'revu" three times.

R. Yuzpeh Shamash, Minhagim D'K"K Vermaisa Vol. II Nissuin #231

והחתן אוחז הכלה בידו

And the groom grasps the bride in his hand.

R. Avraham Melamed discusses the appropriateness of these customs. At first he notes that it seems inappropriate, but he goes on to quote a number of acharonim, and potential explanations/justifications are that it might be a form of kinyan or a remembrance to Yitzchak bringing Rivka into Sarah's tent.

Melamedcha Leho'il E.H. 36:12

ובענין שיש נוהגים שהחתן נותן יד לכלה בדרכם לחדר יחוד אצל מנהג אשכנז על פניו נראה שזה מנהג מכוער לעשות כן לעיני כל אך ראיתי בספר מנהג ישראל תורה (בנושא חדר יחוד ס"ק כח ד"ה כתב) שכתב בס' פרי האדמה (ח"ג די"ד ע"א) מנהג ארץ ישראל שהחתן מוליך הכלה בידו לבית הנשואין יותר מד' אמות כשהיא טהורה מנהג נכון די"א דהחתן קונה אותה בהולכה זו ע"כ והו"ד בשלחן העזר (סי' ס"ח סק"ג) והעיר שמש"כ שמוליכה לבית הנשואין זה למנהג הספרדים שאין נוהגין לעשות יחוד אחר החופה אבל לאשכנזים החתן מוליכה בידו לחדר יחוד ע"כ ובספר שער המפקד (הל' קדושין אות יב) הקשה על ס' פרי האדמה הנ"ל שאינו מטעם קנין אלא לזכרון מש"כ ויביאה יצחק האהלה שרה אמו ושבזה תהיה חביבה על בעלה וכן להורות שהחתן אוחז בידה ומכניסה תחת רשותו שתהיה נשמעת אליו מהיום הזה והלאה ובזה יעלה זיווגם יפה ע"כ וכ"כ במהרי"ל (מנהגים הל' נישואין סק"ב) והחתן תופש אותה בידו ובחיבורן יחד זורקין כל העם על גבי ראשן חטין ואומרים פרו ורבו ג"פ ע"כ

As for the general propriety of couples holding hands in public, R. Yehuda Herzl Henkin has a responsum where he allows it. He claims that holding hands is not an intimate activity that is a precursor to sexual activity.

Shu"t Benei Vanim 4:12

ולכן ממה שרבים אוחזים ידיים ברחוב איש עם אשתו וחבר עם חברתו אף על פי שלנו אסור למי שאינו נשוי או אם אשתו אינה טהורה מכל מקום נשמע שאחיזת ידיים ברחוב אינה מן הפעולות של התקרבות לתשמיש וגם אינה נעשית בהצנע ואינה דומה לפליית כנים כשהאיש שוכב עם ראשו בתיקת אשתו כמובא בגמרא לגבי אברהם ושרה ולכן מותר לזוג נשוי כשהאשה טהורה

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    +1 Note that Maharil and R. Yuzpe were describing the ancient ashkenazic minhag of ‘huppat main’, which used to take place during the early morning of the wedding day. This custom is discussed at length in Shoroshei Minhag Ashkenaz vol. IV – Joel K May 28 '18 at 19:18
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In Made in Heaven pg. 206, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan writes that in many circles it is the custom for the groom to take the bride's hand and lead her to the yichud room. In footnote 1 he brings the sources listed in the other answers (Sheyarey Kenesses HaGedolah, Orach Chaim 339:10, Pri Adamah III 14a, Shulchan HaEzer 8:3:3).

Although I checked the Sheyarey Kenesses HaGedolah and didn't find anything, just that he questions the validity of our "chuppahs" today, and the Pri HaAdamah uses that to justify the minhag to escort the bride by hand to the yichud room, in order to effect nisuin. The Pri HaAdamah is based on a Taz (Even HaEzer 50 s.k. 4 and 64 s.k. 1) who says the groom should escort the bride to effect kiddushin, and the Pri HaAdamah understands this means by hand.

However, Rabbi Kaplan adds:

Some say his taking her hand to lead her to yichud completes the ceremony (Rabbi Raphael Aharon of Cairo, Nahar Pakud on Shaar HaMafkid (Cairo 1908)).

The Shulchan HaEzer also brings the Nahar Pakud and writes that it says the reason isn't kinyan nisuin, as the Pri HaAdamah says, rather it's to avoid a hefsek of walking to the yichud room. I assume he means a hefsek in the birkas nisuin.

I later found the sefer Shoshanas HaAmakim on Chuppah and Kiddushin, written by the Sefardi Rav Eliyahu Bachbut. On page 287 he writes very strongly against the minhag. He says the Pri HaAdamah was only talking about erev shabbos, and there was never a minhag to hold hands other days. Even if we assume there was, the Pri HaAdamah clearly says to guide her hand in hand only four amos and a bit, not more.

In the course of describing how horrible this minhag is, he brings those who give explanations for it (who he disagrees with).

Siddur HaGeonim VeHamekubalim Vol. 20 Gate 16 Chapter 4 Simman 14 (by Rav Ben Tzion Weinstock) writes that the reason is to avoid a hefsek between the chuppah and the yichud room (presumably referring to the birkas nisuin). This is also in Edus LeYisroel pg. 45. This is like the Nahar Pakud says above, but this is clearly not what the Pri HaAdamah writes.

Otzar Minhagei Nisuin pg. 155 (5767 edition) (by Rav Elyakum Dworks) brings from the sefer Sisu VeSimchu that the minhag is to publicize the marriage. Although it sounds like he's assuming there were only ten people at the chuppah and more people will be on the way to the yichud room.

The Shoshanas HaAmakim also brings the Nahar Pakud that Rabbi Kaplan did, but quotes from it that there's no halachic reason to do it, rather it's just a nice way to fulfill some verses that reference this idea. This doesn't sound like what the Shulchan HaEzer brought from the Nahar Pakud; I'll have to check it out later.

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