Israel's summer wedding season is set to kick off following the conclusion of "The Three Weeks" (a period of mourning commemorating the destruction of the First and Second Temples). Amid the difficult economic situation, Rabbi David Stav, chairman of the Tzohar rabbinical organization, has called on setting a monetary limit on gifts that people give for events such as bar mitzvahs and weddings: 300 shekels ($73) per couple.
According to Stav, if the gifts become cheaper, so will the expenses for the wedding. "Many times families allow themselves to have a very expensive wedding under the assumption that the guests will cover the cost of the wedding hall. This phenomenon causes many people financial distress due to the many events they are invited to."
Therefore, Stav suggests "limiting the sum of the gift to 300 shekels per couple, and overall reducing the cost of renting a wedding hall."
Stav also called on those planning their happy events to try and refrain from going overboard with their investment in just one night, "as important as it may be."
The cost of gifts is one of the more sensitive issues in the religious sector, and rabbis are consistently beseeched about the matter.
Rabbis have even been asked whether or not it was preferential to avoid attending an event altogether if going would cause financial difficulties.
Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the chief rabbi of Safed, touched on the matter: "All brides and grooms want people to attend, even if they come with nothing. The present is not the essence, although it is certainly important. Therefore, one mustn't cause himself anguish by over thinking this matter."
According to Eliyahu, "If we are talking about attending a wedding of a family that doesn't have much [money] — it's recommended to bring them a monetary gift or a gift that is worth money. If a family has enough money, one can bring a gift with spiritual value as opposed to monetary value. Such a gift can bring more joy than a check."