FOR TRADITIONAL JEWISH WEDDINGS
Reprinted with permission by UltimateWeddings
By custom, all of the immediate relatives are part of the wedding party. The bride and groom are escorted down the aisle by their parents. To lead their children to the huppah is considered a parent's highest joy. Their fathers and mothers escort both bride and groom. If there are grandparents, they are given a special place in the procession. Under the huppah the bride stands to the right of the groom. Under Orthodox custom, the bride may circle the groom seven times (representing the seven wedding blessings) before taking her place at his right. The number seven represents the idea of the seven heavens, the seven wedding blessings and the seven days of Creation. Symbolically, the bride is thought to be entering the seven spheres of her beloved's soul. The circle created by the bride is regarded as the space the couple will now share, separate from parents.
The seven Jewish wedding blessings praise God for:
- Creating the fruit of the vine: the blessing over the wine, or kiddush
- Creating the earth and all that is in it
- Creating humanity
- Creating man and woman in God's image
- The miracle of birth
- Bringing the bride and groom together to rejoice and live in harmony as did the first couple, Adam and Eve
- The joy of the bride and groom and the hope for a world that will one day be filled with the joy of lovers and the laughter of children
The rabbi begins the ceremony by reading the invocation. Then, the rabbi recites the betrothal benediction over a glass of wine, a symbol of sanctification in which the praise to the one God is voiced. The prayer is: We praise you, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine. The bride and groom sip the wine. During most wedding ceremonies, the groom lifts the bride's veil after he has tasted the wine.
After the introduction by the rabbi, the groom recites his wedding vow and gives the ring to the bride. The wedding vow he recites in Hebrew is: Thou art consecrated unto me with this ring as my wife, according to the law of Moses and Israel.
Traditionally the ring for the bride is a simple gold band without any engravings. This type of ring is used because it shows the true value and purity of the ring. At the ceremony the ring is placed on the bride's right index finger because it is the finger that points at the words when reading the Torah. Modern brides that follow this custom will sometimes switch the ring to the left hand after the ceremony.
Next the ketubbah is read aloud. This is followed by a reading of the seven wedding benedictions by various guests. During this reading the bride and groom sip their wine. The seven benedictions are as follows:
- Blessed art Thou, O lord our God, King of the Universe who hast created the fruit of the vine.
- Blessed art Thou, O lord our God, King of the Universe who hast created all things for His glory.
- Blessed art Thou, O lord our God, King of the universe, creator of man.
- Blessed art Thou, O lord our God, King of the Universe who hast made man in his image, after his likeness, and hast prepared for him out of his very self, a perpetual fabric. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, creator of man.
- May she who was barren be exceedingly glad and rejoice when her children are united in her midst in joy.
- Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who makes Zion joyful through her children. Lord, make these beloved companions greatly rejoice even as Thou didst rejoice at Thy creation in the Garden of Eden as of old.
- Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who makest bridegroom and bride to rejoice.
- Blessed art Thou, O lord our God, King of the Universe, who hast created joy and gladness, bridegroom and bride, mirth and exultation, pleasure and delight, love, brotherhood, peace and fellowship. Soon may there be heard in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of joy and gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the jubilant voice of the bridegrooms from the canopies, and of youths from their feasts of song.
- Blessed art Thou, O Lord who makest the bridegroom to rejoice with the bride.
When the reading is done, the groom smashes a glass with his foot. The breaking of the glass symbolizes the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem centuries ago. When the wedding ceremony has ended, the guests wish the couple mazel tov, meaning good luck.