JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Re: Three marriage bans #general

Judith Romney Wegner

An 1836 Polish marriage record mentions the reading of the three
bans in the synagogue before the marriage. A google search on the
topic only brings up Christian references.

1. Was this practice wide-spread among the Jews?
2. What's the exact nature and purpose of these bans?
First, we may note that when used in this meaning it is usual (and
in British English absolutely routine) to spell the word "banns" with
two n's. (Presumably this distinction originated in a desire to
distinguish this use of the word rom the word "ban" used in its more
normal meaning of "prohibition." The original meaning of "ban" was
a simply a proclamation (i.e. not necessarily limited to a
proclamation prohibiting some course of action). So in the case of
marriage a "bann" means simply a proclamation or announcement
(usually made in church) of a forthcoming marriage.

It was a requirement of ecclesiastical law, that the bann (i.e. the
announcement) be read in Church on three successive Sundays --
which obviously explains why it was and in many places still is
routine among Christians but not among Jews. (Presumably the
publication of the upcoming marriage was intended to put people on
notice, in case someone knew of some impediment to the proposed
marriage (such as that one or other party was already married!) ,
which would enable the person with that knowledge to come forward in
time to prevent the commission of a grievous sin .)

However, in cases where the civil laws of a country likewise
required the publication of the "banns" (as seems to have been the
case in Poland based on the document discussed above) presumably Jews
would automatically have followed suit, making the announcement in
the synagogue.

Judith Romney Wegner

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