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The mesader kiddushin at my wedding did not conduct any classes with me, did not read the ketuba out loud, did not recite any of the brachot. While he gave a speech under the chupah and explained certain aspects of the ceremony, he didn't "do" anything sacramental. I think he signed the civil marriage document but that was in his rabbinic capacity -- it was not part of the wedding ceremony. He happened to have been my communal rabbi and we chose him because we wanted to give him an honor, but there seemed to be nothing in the role which demanded that he be Jewish, male or ordained.

What are the requirements for being a Mesader Kiddushin (sources appreciated) assuming that the person in the role does not say anything in way of ritual?

  • He didn't say the Birkrat Eirusin? (Not that that's a requirement, just it's pretty common.) – Double AA Nov 11 '15 at 16:56
  • Not as I recall. But since it isn't a requirement, let's consider the hypothetical where, for sure, the mesader kiddushin doesn't say it. – rosends Nov 11 '15 at 17:06
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    See a history here responsafortoday.com/vol3/8.pdf In short, there are no rules as there is no such Halachic position. Just it's in your interest to make sure someone there knows what's going on and ensures you don't mess things up. – Double AA Nov 11 '15 at 17:07
  • R' Herschel Schachter famously says that a monkey can serve as mesader kiddushin – Noach MiFrankfurt Oct 15 '18 at 0:20
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The Talmud Kiddushin (13a) states:

רב יהודה אמר שמואל: כל שאינו יודע בטיב גיטין וקדושין לא יהא לו עסק עמהן

Rav Yehuda said in the name of Sh'muel: anyone who is not familiar with the nature of divorces and marriages, should not be involved with them.

This is referenced by the Shulhan Arukh (EH 49:3) who explains that this means that one lacking expertise in these areas should not issue halakhic rulings about them. (Not that he cannot officiate the services).

The Taz (EH 49:1) writes that one need not have such great expertise to conduct a kiddushin, since it is simple and does not require issuing halakhic rulings.

דבנתינת קידושין אין שם הרבה פרטים באותו סידור ואין מצוין שינוים שם ששייך בהם הוראה ...וכן המנהג בינינו שמכבדין בסידור קידושין אפילו אינו למדן גדול

For in giving kiddushin there arent many details, and details that require legal rulings are not present there...And so is the custom among us to honor with siddur kiddushin even one who is not a great scholar.

Maharsha writes similarly, in his Hiddushei Aggadot to Kiddushin (13a):

דבקדושין לחוד הכל יודעין בו גם להתיר פנויה לאיש הוא דבר קל ולזה נשתרבב המנהג בדורינו שנותנין רשות לכל אדם היודע קצת לעסוק בקדושין... משא"כ בגיטין שרבו כמו רבו דיניה והלכותיה בחומר א"א להתירה אין לאדם לעסוק בהן כ"א היודע כו' וכן בקדושין שאחר הגיטין באלו לא יהיה מתעסק בהן כ"א היודע בטיב גיטין שהיו קודם הקידושין אם גיטין גמורים היו דשמא לא היה גט ויתיר ע"י קדושין שאחריו א"א לעלמא

For regarding mere marriage everyone is familiar with it. Also to permit an unmarried woman to a man is a minor thing, and because of this, the custom in our generation developed that we let anyone who is a little familiar with kiddsuhin, [be mesader kiddushin]...In contradistinction to divorce which has many laws and relates to the stringency of permitting a married woman, a person should only deal with them if he knows etc. And similarly, with marriage that follows a divorce, regarding these, a person should only deal with them if he knows the nature of the divorce that preceded the marriage, whether it was a proper divorce, for maybe it wasn't a divorce, and he would be permitting a married woman to remarry.


In summary, while it is very difficult to prove the negative; that is, that there are no requirements, the only Talmudic source AFAIK that could be interpreted as assigning formal requirements for a mesader kiddushin (an institution that incidentally probably did not even exist in the time of Hazal), is the passage in Kiddushin. As noted, the SHA explains (following Rashi) that this refers to issuing legal rulings, and the Taz clarifies that simply officiating a wedding is not included in this. Maharsha similarly implies that the requirement for expertise when dealing with marriage, only applies to remarriage, which is an extension of the expertise required for divorce.

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Chabad's page on What is the role and function of the officiating celebrant in a Jewish wedding? answers your question as follows:

The officiating rabbi at a wedding, known in Hebrew as the mesader kiddushin, has two primary functions: The first and primary function of the rabbi is to ensure that the entire wedding is properly conducted according to Jewish law and custom. He makes sure that all the "paperwork," i.e. the ketubah (marriage contract), is in order; that the marriage witnesses meet all halachic criteria; and that all other parts of the ceremony conform to halachic standards. Secondly, there is a blessing that is technically the groom's responsibility to recite before placing the wedding ring on the bride's finger. Since the groom will likely be too nervous at this juncture to properly pronounce the blessing, the rabbi recites it in his stead.

So he does need to be someone who knows the relevant laws (including how to remedy problematic situations) and can make sure that the laws are fulfilled.

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The accepted answer certainly presents one side of the argument. I thought I would present the opposing side.

The Taz (EH 49:1) writes his opinion about the mesader kiddushin not requiring great expertise, and he contrasts this with the laws of a get:

אבל בסידור גיטין הרבה מאוד פרטים וזהו ודאי בכלל הוראה ואין ליתן לסדר גיטין אלא למומחה ברבים

However, with being mesader a get, there are many many details, and this is definitely included in "ruling", and [thus] only a public expert should arrange a get.

The Pischei Teshuvah (EH 49:2) writes:

עבה"ט מ"ש ט"ז...ועיין בתשו' שבו"י ח"ג סי' קט"ז שלא כ"כ אלא דה"ה שלא יסדר קידושין לכתחילה ולהכי נקט הש"ס לא יהא לי עסק משמע כל התעסקות בענין קדושין וגיטין וגם רש"י ז"ל שכ' שלא יהא דיין בדבר לא כיון דוקא אם יהי' דיין לדון על הגיטין או הקדושין אם הם כהוגן רק דה"ה שלא יסדר לכתחלה וזה נכלל ג"כ בכלל דיין וכן משמע בתשו' מהרי"ו סי' פ"ה כו'

ובודאי לא בחנם הורגלו דורות הללו שאין מסדרין קדושין בלתי התרת הרב כי יש לחוש להרבה מכשולים שיבא לקדש ח"ו איסור ערוה או שני' כאשר קרה בזמנינו כו'

ושם בתשו' הגאון בעל כנ"י כתב שדבר זה הוא תקנה מרבני צרפת שהיו בימי ר"ת שגזרו ואמרו שלא יסדר שום אדם קדושין כ"א מי שנבחר לרב או מ"צ בקהילתו...‏

Look at the Be'er Heitev, who brings the Taz...and look at Responsa Shevus Yaakov III § 116, who doesn't write so. Rather, the same is so for Kiddushin, that at the onset [someone who is not an expert should not] be mesader the Kiddushin. This is why the gemarra used the expression "you should not have dealings [with someone who isn't an expert]", which implies any dealings, i.e. kiddushin and gittin. Rashi as well, who says they shouldn't be a judge, didn't only mean a judge to rule on gittin or kiddushin if they were done properly, rather he also means that they shouldn't at the onset be mesader them, and this is included in being a judge. Similarly it sounds like this from Responsa Mahari Veil § 85.

Definitely it wasn't for naught that these generations were accustomed to only give away the honor of mesader kiddushin with the permission of a Rav, because there are many stumbling blocks to worry about, such as forbidden relationships could get married, which happens sometimes in our generation.

The Kenesses HaGedolah in a Responsa writes that it is an enactment of the French Rabbis which were in the days of Rabbeinu Tam, that they decreed that only someone who was chosen to be a Rav can be mesader kiddushin, or is a halachic decisor for a community...

The Aruch HaShulchan (EH 49:8) first brings the opinion of the Taz, and then finishes with the opinion of the Shevus Yaakov and Kenesses HaGedolah, which could indicate his preference for the latter.

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