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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2019 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


March 11, 2016  RSS feed
Rabbinically Speaking

Text: T T T

Jewish wedding customs are meaningful and beautiful

By RABBI GARY KLEIN Temple Ahavat Shalom, Palm Harbor

For this special Wedding Edition of our community’s’ wonderful Jewish Press, I would like to devote this column to a brief discussion of our people’s wedding customs. They are so meaningful and so beautiful!

The Hebrew term for marriage is Kiddushin. That same Hebrew word is also used to mean sanctification. I believe our ancestors selected the same term for marriage and for sanctification because they knew that marriage holds wonderful potential for helping people create holiness in their lives. Each of our customs reflects this view.

The chuppah, the canopy under which the couple stands during the wedding ceremony, symbolizes the home they are establishing together. Our tradition places bride and groom in this symbolic home during their wedding ceremony because we can be certain that during the ceremony, bride and groom are relating to each other in the most sensitive, loving and caring manner. This is conduct that creates holiness. By placing them in their symbolic home while they are relating to each other in such a beautiful way, Judaism gives them the opportunity to symbolically pledge to do everything they can to relate to each other in just as ennobling a fashion when they dwell together in their real home.

The wedding rings symbolize the marriage bond, as the rings, according to tradition, are a perfect circle without beginning and without end. When bride and groom exchange rings, they pledge unending love for and devotion to each other.

When a Kiddush cup is used at a wedding ceremony, it symbolizes the cup of life. As bride and groom share the one cup of wine, they undertake to share all that the future may bring. Whatever sweetness life’s cup may hold for them should be sweeter because they share it. Whatever drops of bitterness life’s cup may contain, should be less bitter because the couple shares them.

There are several explanations for the custom of the groom breaking a glass near the end of the ceremony. One that has long been part of our tradition is that the breaking of a glass which is an unfortunate, disruptive event, reminds the couple to never forget that during the course of our history, the Jewish people has experienced so much misfortune due to anti-Semitism. As the groom breaks the glass, he symbolically pledges on both his and the bride’s behalf that throughout this marriage, bride and groom will do everything in their power to perpetuate Judaism which, as we all know, is a powerful source for good in the world.

Another of the many explanations for this custom is related to the fact that the breaking of a glass is an irreparable event. Once shattered, that glass can never be restored to its original condition. So, too, a person’s self-esteem. If either husband or wife ever hurt the other through something either of them says or does, while they may be able to continue in their marriage, it will not be the same. So, the groom in breaking the glass pledges, again, on his own behalf and on behalf of his bride, that both will do everything they can to be certain that neither ever hurts the other.

Mazel Tov to all who will become brides and grooms. Mazel Tov to their families as well. I pray that each marriage will truly be Kiddushin.

The Rabbinically Speaking column is provided as a public service by the Jewish Press in cooperation with the Pinellas County Board of Rabbis. Columns are assigned on a rotating basis by the board. The views expressed in the column are those of the rabbi and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Jewish Press or the Board of Rabbis.

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