It’s basically a prenuptial agreement stating the groom’s responsibilities over his wife.
It’s basically is a one-side contract that specifies the groom’s responsibility for his wife. It requires the husband to provide her basic necessities, such as food, clothing and conjugal rights. It also requires the husband to pay a pre-specified amount of money in case the couple file for divorce.
The woman essentially get’s a bill of protection signed by her husband, and a fine piece of art – which might end up getting displayed in their future home, if the husband is (un)lucky.
Wait, But Why?
“Isn’t this a bit “old-fashioned”?
Many modern Jewish couples believe so.
There’s been a trend in the past few couple of years of slightly “modifying” the Ketubah to fit into our modern days of society, including even the language in which they write the Ketubah (originally written in Aramaic).
This obviously raises many questions (especially among Orthodox Jews)… but let’s not go into that debate shall we.
Veiling the Bride
“Upon seeing her husband-to-be, Isaac, for the first time, Rebecca “took her veil and covered herself.” (Gen. 25:65)
The veiling of the bride is also commonly known as “Badeken”.
The groom is led towards his bride, usually accompanied by the two fathers.
The veil most important role is to highlight the groom’s interest in his bride’s personality and inner beauty, VS her external beauty.
Wait, but Why?
What’s the real reasons behind the veil?
There are many other symbolical reasons why women wear a veil on their wedding night:
The veil represents dignity, honor and pureness.
It’s a symbol for modesty.
It conveys maturity and significance.
So it kind of makes sense why it represents married women – to signify the importance and holiness of this moment, and her new status as a married woman.
The Chuppah is probably the most emotional part of the wedding. It’s where the actual wedding ceremony takes place.
The Chuppah is actually the wedding canopy, but the word “Chuppah” was popularized to also describe the ceremony itself.
The Chuppah represents the future home the bride and groom will create. The “walls” of the Chuppah are actually played by the couple’s family & friends, to represent the future love and care they will surround their own home and family with.
In some Jewish cultures (especially Ashkenazi), it’s common for the bride to circle the groom seven times.
Why 7 times? To strengthen their new built foundation and symbolize their own “new world” they’re about to create.
Did You Know?
The number 7 has many strong associations in Judaism. It represents creation (the world was creation in 7 days), fortune and blessing (Sabbath = 7th day).
After the rabbi finishes reciting a few blessings over wine, the groom places a solid, gold ring on the woman’s finger while citing the Talmud:
“Be sanctified to me with this ring in accordance with the law of Moses and Israel”
“Why a solid, gold ring? What does it symbolize? Tell me more!”
There are actually quite a few reasons for it:
The ring’s circle shape represents the eternity of the bond the couple is now forming
Traditionally, the ring should be made of plan gold and have a solid exterior – without any ornamentation covering it, to represent the hope that the married couple’s marriage will be clean and solid as the ring
Here’s the number seven again.
The seven blessings, also known as “Sheva Berakhot”, is where the rabbi recites seven blessings for the new young couple.
The blessings cover several aspects:
Thanking & praising god for his creation
Wishing the couple will rejoice together forever like Adam & Eve
A prayer for rebuilding Jerusalem and the holy temple
Wait, but Why?
“What’s the real meaning of Sheva Berakhot?”
The true meaning of the seven blessings is to acknowledge that the couple’s marriage has a much higher goal than satisfying their own needs and desires.
They’re marriage represents completeness, the combining of two split souls into one complete soul, which was created in God’s image.
Break the Glass!
Yes, that’s usually how it goes.
The groom shatters a glass with his foot to express the destruction of the holy Temple in Jerusalem.
Wait, but Why?
“Ok, I get it… but why break a glass? That can’t be the only reason?”
The popular answer is that it commemorates the fall of Jerusalem.
But actually, there’s a deeper meaning behind it.
The breaking of the glass represents the two fragmented souls.
Before the souls were sent to this world, they were originally a one complete soul. When they got sent here, they were split into two soul fragments: one male, one female.
When a Jewish couple get’s married, their souls reunite again, which gave us a reason for this wonderful celebration.
The breaking of the glass symbolizes that everything happens for the best… and if your one soul wouldn’t have been shattered into two parts, you wouldn’t be able to celebrate with your loved ones this joyous moment of two souls reuniting into one soul again.
That’s also why people yell Mazal tov at this moment, because we trust that everything happens for the best.
Seudah (aka Party Time)
Yes, it’s called Seudah (feast).
But the highlight here is probably the drinking, the dancing and the partying.
It’s considered a huge Mitzvah to bring joy to the bride and groom at their special day, and this is where you get to express it.
So why not, have a glass of wine.
Wait, but Why?
“It’s their wedding day… aren’t they happy already? Why do they need me to dance like a mad man and spread my love?”
You get to fulfill the Mitzvah of “love thy neighbor as thyself”
Making one’s personal celebration a community celebration. Love is best celebrated when shared with many people, VS by yourself.
Finally, some alone time. No parents, friends, or cameramen to be found (I hope).
Just you and your new spouse. Together. Looking at each other’s eyes, reflecting on the day you just had, and on the life ahead of you together. And it starts right at this moment, at the Yichud.
Wait, but why
“Why do they need time to be alone?” I want to continue celebrating with them!”
You’ll understand when you grow older.
A Jewish wedding is a big deal.
Lot’s of happiness, joy and emotions involved.
It’s where Jewish tradition meats uniqueness.
Where old meets new.
Where old Jewish men/women will try to set you up with their niece/nephew (even when you’re not single).