Mazal Tov

Weddings are moments of remarkable joy.  Jewish mysticism teaches that the souls are separated prior to birth.  The joy is because the souls have rediscovered each other.  A wedding is not that two people have met; from a Kabbalistic perspective, the souls that were once one, have now reunited.
Jewish weddings are rich in tradition.  Many have the custom that the bride and groom do not see each other for the week prior to the wedding.  This gives them time for reflection and makes their meeting under the chuppah special.  The day of wedding is a personal Yom Kippur.  It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.  Sins are forgiven.  The slate is wiped clean.  The bride and groom fast until the ceremony, since it’s a day of spiritual reflection and repentance.
At the reception prior to the ceremony, the rabbi finalizes the ketubah (wedding contract).  It outlines the responsibilities of the groom to provide for his wife.  The groom places a veil over the bride.  This recalls the ancient story of our patriarch, Jacob, who married Leah instead of Rachel.  Grandparents and parents take this special moment to bless their children.  The mystics teach that the veil represents a two-fold commitment.  The groom is not solely interested in external beauty that may fade with time, but rather on the inner beauty she will never lose. The bride is saying that from this moment  she reserves her beauty for her husband.
The wedding canopy is a chuppah, held on four poles.  Some use a talit.  Many do the chuppah outside.  This represents G-d’s blessing to Abraham of abundant children.  The open-sided canopy is symbolic of establishing a home that is open and welcome to all.  The  bride and groom are escorted by their parents.  First the groom arrives, and then the bride circles the groom seven times, symbolic of her husband building a home and her commitment to her husband.
The ceremony begins with the rabbi making blessings over the wine.  Then the groom presents a ring to the bride.  Many use one of pure gold with no stones, representing the purity of the love between bride and groom.  The groom weds his wife the moment he places the ring on her finger and states, “You are wedded to me according to the laws of Moses and Israel.”  The ketubah is read and  presented to the bride.
The focus now turns to the final stage of the wedding, the “Seven Blessings.”  They recall the first wedding in mankind between Adam and Eve, invoke G-d’s blessing this auspicious moment and shower the new couple with hope for the future.  The wedding is concluded with the breaking of the glass to remember the tragic moments of Jewish history, in particular the destruction of the Temple two millennia ago.  After the chuppah the bride and groom have a few private moments in the yichud (seclusion) room, prior to joining their guests.
Weddings are moments of great joy.  A new Jewish family is being established.  The link in history that began three thousand years ago at Mt Sinai is reaching into the future.  The souls separated in heaven and found each other.  We all join in celebration with the bridge and groom, wishing them well.


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