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A common practice in some segments of today's Jewish world is for brides and grooms to attend "Chattan/kallah classes" where the attendees receive instruction and advice on relationship dynamics and intimacy (see here for more info.). It has become so popular that one who does not attend such classes prior to marriage is looked upon with a raised eyebrow and, depending on the individual's circles, met with objection.

I am curious if a study has been done tracing the inception of this practice or if any readers can shed light on it.

I am not asking for reasons why it began (exposure -or, lack of- to "the way of the world"; social influences etc.). I'm only interested in early documented sources or anything indicating its inception. As for the implications of such a study, that too is beyond this question.

(My research: this practice isn't older than a few decades.)

  • I don't have sources (which is why I'm leaving as a comment): historically, parents would teach their child the relevant Halachos prior to getting married. Post-Holocaust, there simply weren't many parents to teach the Halachos, so a movement was created to have the Halachos formally taught through 'classes'. – Salmononius2 Sep 5 '18 at 2:50
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    Perhaps the classes were invented because some parents were too embarrassed to teach their children these subjects, or maybe because the children were too embarrassed to learn from their parents. @Salmononius2 – ezra Sep 5 '18 at 3:23
  • @Salmononius2 The parents who weren't around post-Holocaust didn't have kids; and the ones that were around and had kids - how were they (competently) different than the ones pre-Holocaust who taught their children? In any case, the classes given today -which are the type I'm inquiring about- aren't centralized around only halachah, it's more like "counseling" about marriage (relationships etc.) and at times a general crash course of the relevant halachot. More so, I've observed thatthey (both male and female "counselors") assume a guidance rôle on all sorts of issues that arise later on. – Oliver Sep 5 '18 at 3:28
  • more on this in Mi Yodeya chat – msh210 Sep 5 '18 at 4:26
  • @Oliver I may not have been so clear in my first comment, but there were definitely quite a few orphans in the post-war era who did not have any family to properly teach them the laws of Niddah. And YMMV, but from what I've seen (although to be fair, I only personally attended one 'set' of courses), the large majority of the courses were Halachah based (and partially Hashkafah based, to help one understand the reasons behind the Halachos). Of the dozen or so classes I took, there was maybe 1 that focused on "relationship dynamics and intimacy" – Salmononius2 Sep 5 '18 at 11:52
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Based on the book "Halachos of Niddah" by Rabbi Shimon D. Eider (first published in 1981), the origin of the modern Chassan and Kallah classes began shortly after the Holocaust. Historically, mothers would teach their daughters the relevant Halachos shortly before they were married. Unfortunately, after the Holocaust, there were many orphans who did not have anyone to learn the Halachos from, so formal 'classes' were established to fill this crucial function left in the wake of the destruction.

Additionally, there were a large number of people who came from irreligious families who were Chozer B'Teshuva, who could also not learn the Halachos from their family. The Teshuva phenomenon likely also added to the popularity of Chassan and Kallah classes.

Based on the above, it is likely that Chassan and Kallah classes became popular around the 1950's-1960's.

(Note that the question asks about classes that give "instruction and advice on relationship dynamics and intimacy". The main focus of the Chassan and Kallah classes are to learn the rules of Taharas Hamishpacha, per the linked question, but it's very likely that parts of the 'course material' evolved to include "instruction and advice on relationship dynamics and intimacy" due to the related subject matter. However, the main focus and intent of these classes is to teach the laws of Taharas Hamishpacha)

Quote from the book (from the preface, pages xvi-xvii):

During the period of the Rishonim and even until recent times, daughters were taught by their mothers, the responsibility of Jewish womanhood. Tradition was transferred - in the home - from generation to generation. The halachos themselves, the severity of their violation and the need to ask a Rav were inculcated in the hearts of Jewish women by their mothers.[…]

The years of the holocaust and the upheaval it caused cast a gap in the Jewish family. Mothers, who would have otherwise instructed their daughters, perished at the hands of the latter day Amalek. As a result, their daughters lost this vital link in the chain of tradition. As a result, their daughters lost this vital link in the chain of tradition.[…] In addition, we are blessed, nowadays, with the new phenomenon of women […] who, through their own awakening, yearn to observe these mitzvos impeccably. Therefore, in many Jewish communities, this responsibility has been transferred or assumed by Yeshivos for girls, kallah classes, and individual instruction by Rebbetzins.

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