A Jewish wedding
Mazal Tov! All the information about your upcoming wedding.
A Jewish wedding - connecting the spiritual and Material
Dreaming of a Jewish wedding?
Want to break that glass? Wear that ring? Sing those songs?
What is a Jewish wedding?
A Jewish wedding consists of two parts
In the past these part were separated by a few months, up to a year. For hundreds of years both prats take place under the chupah, one following the other, with only a few moments separating.
In the kabbalah it’s explained that the Jewish wedding has two stages for deep reasons. The first stage Is the spiritual connection formed by the couple. As soon as the first stage is preformed the couple is married legally but physical connection is still prohibited. This stage is what builds the foundation for a special relationship based on spirituality.
The second stage that follows is a symbol of a life of sharing everything – spiritual and physical.
Below, we will see how these stages appear in the Jewish wedding ceremony.
So how does it happen?
What you have to bring
As an introduction to the ceremony the bridegroom enveils the bride, some hold this is part of the marriage itself. Others explain this act as to make sure that this is right woman as opposed to Yaakov our forefather who was tricked into marrying Leah instead of Rachel.
The first stage of Jewish marriage
This is the granting of the wedding ring. The ring must belong solely to the bridegroom. Those remarrying must take an act of granting the ring to the bridegroom prior to the wedding alternatively the bridegroom should buy a new one. The ring should be simple, no diamond or etching
The Rav, the couple, the chaperones (usually their parents) and a pair of witnesses will all be standing under the Chupah (a canopy). The witnesses (observant Jewish men, above 13, sometimes the Rav is one of the witnesses) are specially set aside, so others in the audience will pose a problem as non-kosher witnesses (e.g.: non-Jews, family members) of the wedding.
The Rav will fill a cup of wine and recite the blessings. The blessings are for the couple that must have in mind to fulfil their obligation to say them by hearing tיthem from the Rav. At this point the bridegroom will not give wine to the bride as a sign from refraining from physical contact.
Following the blessings the bridegroom will exclaim: “harei at mekudeshet li betaba’at zo kedat Moshe veyisrael” (You are married to me as the laws of Moshe and Israel”, and will put the ring on the bride’s left forefinger.
Those preset exclaim: “Mekudeshet Mekudeshet” (married, married).
Reading the Ketubah and signing it
The second stage of a Jewish wedding proceeds with reading of the Ketubah and signing it.
What is a Ketubah?
The Ketubah is the bridegroom’s commitment to support his new wife, and live with her as couples do. A monetary commitment in case of death of divorce. In some Ketubot there is a commitment to refrain from marrying another wife.
The Rav or other honorable individual read the Ketubah out loud. Some sign the Ketubah now, others had signed it prior to the ceremony.
In order to validate the bridegroom’s commitment to his wife according to Jewish law he must take a symbolic action which is done by accepting an article given by the Rav or witness. It’s as if he’s giving his word in exchange for the article.
Under the chupah the bridegroom hands the Ketubah over to his wife, thus finalizing his commitment to her.
A copy of the Ketubah is signed at the same time, handed to the bride and returned to Beit hadin that will hold it for years to come.
The ceremony proceeds with another cup of wine filled to the rim, and the seven blessings are recited. Honorable members of family and friends recite the blessings, and they have in mind to fulfil the obligation of the couple to recite the blessings, and the couple have in mind the same. The last blessing is sung by the congregation and the leader. At the conclusion the bridegroom takes a sip of the wine and gives his wife a sip too.
Explanation of the seven blessings can be read here.
Breaking the cup
One of the must exciting moments of wedding is the breaking of the glass as a token of remembering the destruction of the temple. Our happiness is not complete without the temple. Why is it so exciting? Halachically this moment is insignificant but since it’s the end of the ceremony, married at last!
Some break the cup after reading the Ketubah.
Room of singularity
According to the Ashkenazi custom and some of the other customs as well, following the chupah the couple enter a room where for the first time they are alone. Witnesses first check that the room is empty and later make sure that no one will enter the room for 5 minutes.