The sixth and seventh of the seven Berachot recited under the Hupa at a wedding conclude with similar, yet not identical, texts. The sixth Beracha – Same’ah Tesamah – ends with the blessing, “Baruch Ata Hashem Mesame’ah Hatan Ve’kalla” (“Blessed are You, Hashem, who blesses the groom and bride”), whereas the seventh concludes, “Baruch Ata Hashem Mesame’ah Hatan Im Ha’kalla” (“Blessed are You, Hashem, who blesses the groom with the bride”). What is the reason for the subtle difference between the two Berachot? Why in the sixth Beracha do we praise Hashem for bringing joy to “the bride and groom” whereas in the seventh we say “the bride with the groom”?
The answer to this question is given by Rashi, in his commentary to Masechet Ketubot. He explains that in the sixth Beracha, we pray that Hashem should bless the bride and groom with success as individuals, that they should each individually enjoy God’s blessing, and we therefore conclude, “Mesame’ah Hatan Ve’kalla.” In the seventh Beracha, by contrast, we pray for the bride and groom’s success as a unit, as a married couple, and we therefore recite the text of “Masame’ah Hatan Im Ha’kalla,” as we speak of the bride and groom’s collective blessing.
In the seventh Beracha, we give praise to Hashem for creating “Sasson Ve’simha, Hatan Ve’kalla” – “Rejoicing and happiness; groom and bride.” What is the precise meaning of this text? Why do we mention “Sasson Ve’simha” followed by “Hatan Ve’kalla”?
The answer is that this Beracha refers to the sequence of a person’s life. A man’s life begins with “Sasson,” a term which the Gemara understands as referring to Berit Mila, as indicated by the verse that says about Berit Mila, “Sas Anochi Al Imratecha Ke’moseh Shalal Rav” (“I rejoice over Your command like one who finds a large treasure” – Tehillim 119:162). Then comes “Simha,” which refers to the joy of Torah learning, as indicated by the verse, “Pikudeh Hashem Yesharim Mesameheh Leb” (“The ordinances of Hashem are upright, and bring joy to the heart” – Tehillim 19:8). Already at a young age, once a boy is able to speak, his parents must begin giving him a Torah education, and thus the next significant stage after “Sasson” – the Berit Mila – is “Simha.” Then, upon reaching adulthood, the boy reaches the stage of “Hatan Ve’kalla” – when he gets married.
It thus emerges that the text of “Sasson Ve’simha, Hatan Ve’kalla” is similar to the prayer that we customarily recite at a Berit Mila – “Ke’shem She’nichnas La’berit Ken Yikanes Le’Torah Le’Hupa U’le’ma’asim Tobim” – “Just as he entered the Berit, so may he enter Torah, the canopy and good deeds.” We pray at the Berit Mila that the boy should grow to experience the joy of Torah and then get married, and at the time of the wedding we give praise to Hashem for blessing us with these three joyous and meaningful stages of life.