Jewish Wedding Tradition

Jewish wedding draws its philosophy from the concept of creation. God made Eve from a rib of Adam. Adam and Eve actually came to this world as one entity. Likewise, Jewish culture believes that man and woman must become one when they get married. This oneness is imperative for a couple to start a new life absolutely of their own.

The wedding tradition of the Jews is very rich and complex symbolizing the oneness and joyous union of the couple at every step. It also includes their patriotic sentiments regarding Jerusalem. It entails a plethora of symbolic rituals to celebrate a wedding.

Here we strive to simplify the whole wedding ceremony in a step by step fashion:

Fixing the Wedding Date:

The bride and the groom have to meet the Rabbi shortly after they get engaged to fix a wedding date and be properly advised. The Hebrew calendar is Lunar and holidays are celebrated on a different day each year. Therefore, this visit is very important. However, the time of the day for wedding is completely left to the couple.

Wedding Invitation:

A Jewish wedding invitation, generally, is a two sided text. The left side is Hebrew and the right side is English. Instead of requesting the honour of presence the invitations invite to “dance at” or to “share the joy of” the wedding. Moreover, in reflecting the idea of giving to the poor at the times of one’s happiness some invitations also request to make a donation to charity in lieu of bringing gifts for the couples.

Before the wedding:

Since one person is only half a soul the wedding day is seen as the new beginning of a complete and unified soul. Therefore, the couple strives to lay foundation of better lives for themselves by increasing the quality and quantity of their Torah learning. Thus, before the wedding they spend their time in these activities so that they can form a stronger bond with God.

One Week before the Wedding:

From one week prior to the wedding until the day the couple will be abstain from seeing each other. This separation increases the anticipation and excitement of the event and it prepares the ground for the special relationship between the couple.

On the Wedding Day:

The wedding day is considered to be the holiest day of a person’s life. On that day both the bride and the groom hold a fast. It is believed that on the wedding day God forgives one’s previous sins. So the couple recites the psalms and prays to God so that their past mistakes are forgiven.

The following are some of the characteristics attached to the wedding day:

Chuppah:

The wedding takes place under the Chuppah (canopy). It is the replica of a house to be made and shared by the couple. The Chuppah is open on all sides just as Abraham and Sarah had their tents open on all sides for guests. It is generally made under the open sky so that the couple is bestowed with the blessings of God.

No Jewelry:

Neither the bride nor the groom wears any jewelry under the Chuppa. It reflects the idea of being what they really are. They are normal human beings, not any material gimmick.

Procession to the Chuppah:

The Bride followed by the Groom comes to the Chuppah. They are escorted by their respective set of parents.

Circumambulation:

Under the Chuppah the bride circumambulates the groom seven times. It is reflective of the seven days in which the world was created. The bride’s circling the groom is figurative of building walls around the couple’s new world together.

Taking Position:

After the circumambulation is over the bride takes her place on the right hand side of the bridegroom.

Betrothal Blessings:

The betrothal blessings are recited, which is accompanied by wine. After the betrothal blessings the couple drinks wine.

Giving Ring:

The bridegroom places a ring on the forefinger of his bride in front of at least two witnesses. According to the Jewish law, marriage becomes official only after the groom gives his bride an object of some value. Traditionally it’s a ring, which is made of only gold without any blemishes or any ornamentation (fort ex, stones). As per the Jewish law this is the central moment of the wedding ceremony and the couple is officially married at this point.

The Marriage Contract (Ketubah):

Ketubah or the marriage contract is an integral part of a Jewish wedding. According to the Jewish law the groom takes upon himself some responsibilities. Some of his prior responsibilities are to provide food, clothing and shelter to his wife, and also to attend to her emotional needs. The marriage contract is signed in front of two witnesses. The protection of the bride is so important that until the Ketubah is red out the marriage may not be solemnised.

The Seven Blessings:

The seven blessings will be recited at this juncture. It will be done by the rabbis or other people whom the families wish to honour. The blessings will be recited with the drinking of wine.

Breaking of Glass:

A glass will be placed on the floor and the groom will break it with his foot. It expresses his grief for the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. This ritual symbolizes the identification of the couple with the spiritual and national destiny of all the Jewish people.

Leaving the Couple Alone:

After this the couple is left alone in a room for some time. The time spent with each other in seclusion signifies their new status of living together as spouses.

The Festive Meals:

At wedding the guests bring happiness and joy for the couple. A feast is held for everybody gathered. The guests dance and make merry to celebrate the wedding. After the feast they shower grace on the couple. During the week following the wedding it is customary for the friends to host feasts and celebrate the marriage of the newly married couple.