WITHIN THE WEDDING CANOPY: THE MYSTICAL MEANING OF JEWISH WEDDING CUSTOMS


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In Orthodox communities, after the tish the ketubah Jewish marriage contract is signed by the groom, the rabbi, and two male witnesses. In Reform and Conservative congregations, the bride may also sign the ketubah, and additonal lines can be added for female witnesses, too.

Despite its testimony that the groom has "acquired" the bride, the ketubah is all about the bride's rights and her willingness to take part in the marriage. In fact, the ketubah belongs solely to the bride and is hers to keep as proof of her rights and the groom's responsibilities to her under Jewish law. The first time a bride and groom see each other in an Orthodox wedding is during the b'deken , or veiling of the bride. Both fathers and all the men lead the groom to the bride's room, where both mothers and all the women surround her. The groom lowers the veil over her face, setting her apart from everyone else and indicating that he is solely interested in her inner beauty.

The ceremony is based on the biblical story in which Jacob did not see his bride's face beforehand and was tricked into marrying the wrong sister, Leah. Some couples have created a more egalitarian veiling ceremony in which the bride places a yarmulke on the groom as he covers her with the veil. The huppah , or wedding canopy, dates back to the tent-dwelling Jewish nomadic days in the desert.

Historically, Jewish wedding ceremonies were held outdoors, and the huppah created an intimate, sanctified space. The canopy offers one of the best opportunities to personalize your ceremony. Since there are no formal requirements for its size, shape, or appearance, you can make your own huppah.

When the couple first enters the huppah, the bride circles the groom seven times, representing the seven wedding blessings and seven days of creation, and demonstrating that the groom is the center of her world.

The tradition and wonder of a Jewish wedding ceremony

To make the ancient ritual reciprocal, many couples opt to circle each other. The kiddushin betrothal ceremony takes place under the huppah. It begins with greetings, a blessing over the wine, and a sip taken by the bride and groom. Next come the rings: The groom recites an ancient Aramaic phrase as he places the wedding band on his bride's right index finger -- the finger believed to be directly connected to the heart.

In a double-ring ceremony not permitted in some Orthodox weddings the bride also places a ring on the grooms index finger while repeating a feminine form of the Aramaic phrase, or a biblical verse from Hosea or Song of Songs. The ketubah is then read aloud in English and Aramaic. The sheva b'rachot , or seven blessings, consist of praise for God, a prayer for peace in Jerusalem, and good wishes for the couple.

In Sephardic weddings, before the sheva b'rachot are recited, the parents wrap the couple in a tallis , literally binding them together. The rabbi doesn't have to say all seven blessings. You can honor special guests by asking them to read -- or even sing -- some of the blessings. Nothing says "Jewish wedding" more than the sound of breaking glass.

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But what's the point? To make a space separate from the surrounding marketplace, the rabbis sanctioned the use of a chuppah.

Wedding Customs: Old, New, and Reinvented | Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ

The original meaning of chuppah was "room" or "covering", from the phrase in the Bible: "Let the bridegroom go forth from his chamber and the bride out of her pavilion chuppah. The chuppah symbolizes the new Jewish home that the couple creates together. It may also have origin in a reference in the Bible to a bridal retreat, where the newlywed couple was confined at the end of the wedding ceremony.


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In the Middle Ages the custom evolved into a cloth, or outer covering, that was spread over the bridal couple during the ceremony as a means of protecting them from harm and evil spirits. The custom of veiling the bride badecken is traditionally explained by the reference to Rebecca in Genesis.


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Popular legend attributes the bedecken to the Biblical story of Jacob and his wives. After trying for seven years for permission to marry Rachel, Jacob was tricked on his wedding day into marrying Leah, instead Genesis. To avoid such a mishap, according to legend, the groom "checks" to be sure than it is, indeed, his bride, before her veil is lowered over her face.

The Bridal Canopy (Chuppah)

It is so designed to serve as an affirmation that the bride is placing her complete faith and trust in the man whom she is about to marry. During Jewish ceremonies, it is traditional that males wear kippot yarmulkes in Yiddish , skullcaps, as a head covering. The covering of the head is a demonstration of awareness that there is something which is infinitely above our intellect and symbolizes our respect and humility in the presence of such a Being. Non-Jewish males may choose to wear a kippah, as well.

The tradition of having honor attendants Bridal Party also has some Jewish roots. Legend has it that Michael. Honor attendants are thus considered to be. Almost every Jewish wedding ends with the traditional breaking of the glass. The traditional explanation is that the smashing of the glass dates back to Talmudic times when Rabbi Mar de-Rabina felt that his disciples had become too frivolous at the marriage of his son.

Legend has it that he grabbed a costly glass and threw it to the floor.

Explanation

This had a sobering effect on his guests and gave the clear message that in celebration there should also be awe and "trembling," as well. Some believe that even in the height of their joy, the couple must pause to remember the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. The shattered glass is a reminder to all that the world is filled with imperfections. There once was a widespread belief that demons were afraid of fire and scared away by light.

WITHIN THE WEDDING CANOPY: THE MYSTICAL MEANING OF JEWISH WEDDING CUSTOMS WITHIN THE WEDDING CANOPY: THE MYSTICAL MEANING OF JEWISH WEDDING CUSTOMS
WITHIN THE WEDDING CANOPY: THE MYSTICAL MEANING OF JEWISH WEDDING CUSTOMS WITHIN THE WEDDING CANOPY: THE MYSTICAL MEANING OF JEWISH WEDDING CUSTOMS
WITHIN THE WEDDING CANOPY: THE MYSTICAL MEANING OF JEWISH WEDDING CUSTOMS WITHIN THE WEDDING CANOPY: THE MYSTICAL MEANING OF JEWISH WEDDING CUSTOMS
WITHIN THE WEDDING CANOPY: THE MYSTICAL MEANING OF JEWISH WEDDING CUSTOMS WITHIN THE WEDDING CANOPY: THE MYSTICAL MEANING OF JEWISH WEDDING CUSTOMS
WITHIN THE WEDDING CANOPY: THE MYSTICAL MEANING OF JEWISH WEDDING CUSTOMS WITHIN THE WEDDING CANOPY: THE MYSTICAL MEANING OF JEWISH WEDDING CUSTOMS
WITHIN THE WEDDING CANOPY: THE MYSTICAL MEANING OF JEWISH WEDDING CUSTOMS WITHIN THE WEDDING CANOPY: THE MYSTICAL MEANING OF JEWISH WEDDING CUSTOMS
WITHIN THE WEDDING CANOPY: THE MYSTICAL MEANING OF JEWISH WEDDING CUSTOMS WITHIN THE WEDDING CANOPY: THE MYSTICAL MEANING OF JEWISH WEDDING CUSTOMS

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